“As a private citizen,” Huckabee wrote, “I have commented on what I have seen based on my past experiences. When I visited Israel in the 1970’s and 1980’s I had no problem visiting Nablus.”
But this time, I couldn’t go because I was with Israelis, and they cannot enter Nablus or Bethlehem or Ramallah. I commented on this because I thought it was remarkable that there are places Israelis can’t go in their own country.
I agree with Huckabee that it is unfortunate that Israelis cannot visit Nablus, Bethlehem and Ramallah more freely, but of course Nablus, Bethlehem and Ramallah are not in Israel. They are in the Palestinian territories, under Israeli military occupation. Huckabee doesn’t recognize this because he doesn’t recognize any Palestinian claim to Palestine, and sees the Palestinian people themselves as mere inconveniences to the goal of “redeeming” the biblical land of Israel.
As I wrote in my article for the American Prospect today, Huckabee’s folksy manner shouldn’t distract you from the extremism of these views: They are the mirror image of Hamas’s views. Or, as Spencer Ackerman pointed out yesterday, at least they were until Hamas accepted a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines. So Huckabee has positioned himself to Hamas’s right on the question of two states for two peoples.
Just as I believe that Israelis should be able to travel to all parts of their country, I believe they should be able to live wherever they want in that country, and that the U. S. government should not tell an Israeli family that they can’t add a nursery to their house when they welcome a new baby, or tell an Israeli village that they can’t add a classroom to their schoolhouse. As a private citizen, I disagree, and I have a right to disagree, with President Obama’s demand for a freeze on Israel’s building new settlements, and with his further demand for a freeze on expansion of existing settlements, despite the natural growth that a community experiences. His call for such a complete freeze contradicts the policy not just of President Bush, but of President Clinton, indeed of all our presidents since Israel’s victory in the 1967 war.
Of course Huckabee has a right to disagree with U.S. policy. But it would probably be helpful if he would actually do the reading before he spoke up in class. Not even the Netanyahu government has insisted on a right to build new settlements, but they have insisted upon their right to build within existing settlements. President Obama, however, is holding the Israelis to the letter of President Bush’s 2003 road map, which Huckabee apparently hasn’t read, in which Israel committed to “freez[ing] all settlement activity.”
What’s really interesting, though, is that, having denied any Palestinian claim to Palestine, opposing Israel’s relinquishing control of any Palestinian land and suggesting that the Palestinians should be made to take a state “elsewhere,” Huckabee then blames President Obama’s focus on settlements for “hurting” the peace process. That is, he criticizes Obama for mismanaging a peace process that Huckabee has already admitted that he doesn’t support. It’s almost as if Huckabee is arguing in bad faith or something.
Meanwhile, Amjad Atallah responds to Huckabee’s transfer talk with a modest proposal.