Mr. Huckabee has long believed he's the best friend, that evangelicals are, the savior(s) of Jews and Israel, that without people like him (in positions of influence) Israel and Jews everywhere would fall victim to Muslims, neo-Nazis, online African Princes who want to deposit umpteen billion in y/our bank accounts...name-the- scourge.

     And for just as long, I hve been irritated by right-leaning American and Israeli Jews who knowingly swallow (if not lap up) evangelical condescension in order to claim political allies who contribute to one Israeli/Jewish Cause or another (even if it's nothing more than Church Group Tourism). My sense is that Israel and Jews do alright for ourselves and needn't tolerate all that  inevitably comes with evangelical support. Evangelicals see it as protecting Israel and Jews for the End-Times. I have, on occasion, asked fellow Jews who welcome what they well know to be evangelical condescension this question:

     Whom do you imagine evangelicals see as running Israel in the Not-So-Great By-and-By (and Before)? 

          (Whoever it is isn't a Jew.)

     Now that that irritant's behind me, Mr. Huckabee's comeuppance is nailed by Sarah Posner today in Religion Dispatches.  I'll be pleased to hear your take.

--

Alright, Governor Huckabee, since you asked. . .

After Mike Huckabee, who portrays himself as perhaps the most loyal friend Israel has in..., told Breitbart News that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven,” Israelis and American Jews were justifiably horrified. The Anti-Defamation League called the presidential hopeful’s comments “completely out of line and unacceptable;” the National Jewish Democratic Council said the comments were “not only disgustingly offensive to the President and the White House, but shows utter, callous disregard for the millions of lives lost in the Shoah and to the pain still felt by their descendants today,” adding his words “may be the most inexcusable we’ve encountered in recent memory.”

Objections were hardly partisan. Former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, who served under former President George W. Bush, said Huckabee’s remarks were “outrageous,” telling MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, “for anybody to equate what the president’s doing to what Adolph Hitler did in World War II is just extraordinary.” But Kurtzer didn’t stop there: “in some ways,” he added, “it’s a form of incitement . . . the same kind of incitement against Yitzhak Rabin and that led to a tragic outcome,” referring to the 1995 assassination of the Israeli prime minister by a Jewish extremist.

As Ed Kilgore notes, “Huckabee has a remarkably intimate relationship with the Holocaust as he sees it, and has been prone to violating the unwritten rule against Holocaust analogies for years.” Not just the Obama-is-the-next-Chamberlain-and-Iran-is-the-next-Nazi-Germany analogies that have become so commonplace they no longer provoke much of a reaction. Huckabee, Kilgore documents, has made repeated comparisons of abortion to the Holocaust as well. He even had the gall, Kilgore remindsus, to visit Auschwitz and then declare, “If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers?”

Huckabee’s over-the-top efforts to win the hearts of Christian Zionsts may not win him Jewish support beyond the Zionist Organization of America, which stood pretty much alone in saying it “agrees with Governor Huckabee that this Iran deal could lead to a Holocaust-like massacre of the Jews.” And we also know from the recent past that comments that offend (most) Jews may not stand in the way of Christian Zionists supporting a fellow Christian:  John Hagee, whose own comments about the Holocaust that came to light during the 2008 presidential campaign offended many Jews, but his Christian Zionist activism marches on.

But Baylor University historian Thomas Kidd thinks Huckabee has gone too far even for evangelicals. Writing in the Washington Post, Kidd says Huckabee had already “jumped the shark” with other antics but that his ovens comment will doom his candidacy. “Everyone in politics knows that if you have to play the Nazi card, you’re getting desperate,” Kidd observes.

Sadly, though, we may never know what will ultimately crush Huckabee’s presidential ambitions. He ran in 2008 as the aw-shucks, I’m-a-conservative-but-not-mad-ab0ut-it candidate, and he took a lot of heat from Arkansas conservatives for being too much of a softy. In many ways, Huckabee has run in the opposite direction from that of his base—or at least the part of the base you’d think he’d be going for. He ran as the nice guy in 2008; in 2016 he’s running as a crank. But he need look no further than his own denomination, whose political point man, Russell Moore, has deliberately changed course from that of his predecessor, Richard Land, and has been sounding a consistent call for dialing backincendiary rhetoric and sensationalistic pandering.

It’s true that Moore doesn’t represent the views of all evangelicals—not even close. After all, if you have 20 percent or so of evangelicals supporting Donald Trump, it’s hard to see why they’d be mightily offended by Huckabee’s outrageous comments but not Trump’s. Given the shape of the field—Bush the heir to a political dynasty, Walker the boring one, Rubio the inexperienced, Trump the blowhard, and a cast of thousands—it’s a kind of political malpractice that Huckabee hasn’t revived his 2008 persona, that same persona which led many to think he would be the new face of the Christian right.

Huckabee’s ovens statement was a ham-handed effort to solidify his “pro-Israel” cred and show he was a tough guy standing up to that appeaser Barack Obama (and it’s that tough guy thing that the evangelical Trump lovers supposedly admire). But Huckabee didn’t just offend Jews. He provided evangelicals, the very type of evangelicals he might have had the greatest chance of impressing, another piece of evidence at which to cringe.

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Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 4:52am

Excellent Thursday.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 4:59am

:)  :)   well-said, SB!

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 6:49am

Donna    It's not that the ovens haven't been tried on Jews (en mase), and it's not as if there are Muslims who want all Jews gone. (There are Christians who want that, too.) And it's not as if Jews don't get that; I certainly get that. Yet the comparing of

this

negotion to a deliberate effort at mass annihilation is simply ahistorical if not nuts.

The point is that the alternative to a deal is Iran's being free to build nuclear weapong far more efficiently and more quickly. The Israeli and American Jewish Right do not want some rhetorical "better" deal: they want no deal bc they want a war in which they'd rather young Americans rather than young Israelis die. 

I am a Zionist. I am hardly the sole Zionist who thinks this negotion is a better option than 

a) no deal (in which case Iran gets to build bombs fast and more powerfully) 

b) another Near East war.

Some believe that a West/Israel v. Islam world war is inevitable and needed. I am not among them and I'm betting you're not either. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 6:59am

And a last point:   In 1933 no nation had the immediate power or wherewithal or caring for Jews that could stop Nazis. Germans knew that

The US always has the option and the means to flatten Iran and so does Israel if Iran does not respect this agreement and/or, suddenly move against "Jews everywhere"...hardly a likely prospect as there are few if any Jews in Iran or  where Iran holds sway...and Israel with its F-16s is an hour's flight...and Israeli tech capability is such that it can continue to degrade Iran's military technology (as it already has on several occasions). 

The Holocaust analogy is riddled with innacuracy. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 7:27am

Donna    here's a really interesting piece that adds to the conversation: 

It’s Not a Nuclear-Armed Iran That Israel and Saudi Arabia Really Fear

It’s that the Vienna Agreement opens the door for the United States and Iran to develop important financial and trade ties.

 

 

Don’t sweat the details of the July nuclear accord between the United States and Iran. What matters is that the calculus of power in the Middle East just changed in significant ways..

Washington and Tehran announced their nuclear agreement on July 14 and, yes, some of the details are still classified. Of course the Obama administration negotiated alongside China, Russia, Great Britain, France, and Germany, which means Iran and five other governments must approve the detailed 159-page “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” The UN, which also had to sign off on the deal, has already agreed to measures to end its sanctions against Iran.

If we’re not all yet insta-experts on centrifuges and enrichment ratios, the media will ensure that in the next two months—during which Congress will debate and weigh approving the agreement—we’ll become so. Verification strategies will be debated. The Israelis will claim that the apocalypse is nigh. And everyone who is anyone will swear to the skies that the devil is in the details. On Sunday talk shows, war hawks will fuss endlessly about the nightmare to come, as well as the weak knees of the president and his “delusional” secretary of state, John Kerry. (No one of note, however, will ask why the president’s past decisions to launch or continue wars in the Middle East were not greeted with at least the same sort of skepticism as his present efforts to forestall one.)

There are two crucial points to take away from all the angry chatter to come: First, none of this matters; and second, the devil is not in the details, though he may indeed appear on those Sunday talk shows.

Here’s what actually matters most: At a crucial moment and without a shot being fired, the United States and Iran have come to a turning point away from an era of outright hostility. The nuclear accord binds the two nations to years of engagement and leaves the door open to a far fuller relationship. Understanding how significant that is requires a look backward.

A VERY QUICK HISTORY OF US-IRANIAN RELATIONS

The short version: Relations have been terrible for almost four decades. A slightly longer version would, however, begin in 1953 when the CIA helped orchestrate a coup to oust Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. A secular leader—just the sort of guy US officials have dreamed about ever since the ayatollahs took power in 1979—Mosaddegh sought to nationalize Iran’s oil industry. That, at the time, was a total no-no for Washington and London. Hence, he had to go.

In his place, Washington installed a puppet leader worthy of the sleaziest of banana republics, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The United States assisted him in maintaining a particularly grim secret police force, the Savak, which he aimed directly at his political opponents, democratic and otherwise, including the ones who espoused a brand of Islamic fundamentalism unfamiliar to the West at the time. Washington lapped up the Shah’s oil and, in return, sold him the modern weapons he fetishized. Through the 1970s, the United States also supplied nuclear fuel and reactor technology to Iran to build on President Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative, which had kicked off Iran’s nuclear program in 1957.



In 1979, following months of demonstrations and seeing his fate in the streets of Tehran, the Shah fled. Religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to take control of the nation in what became known as the Islamic Revolution. Iranian “students” channeled decades of anti-American rage over the Shah and his secret police into a takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran. In an event that few Americans of a certain age are likely to forget, 52 American staffers were held hostage there for some 15 months.

In retaliation, the United States would, among other things, assist Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein (remember him?) in his war with Iran in the 1980s, and in 1988, an American guided missile cruiser in the Persian Gulf would shoot down a civilian Iran Air flight, killing all 290 people on board. (Washington claimed it was an accident.) In 2003, when Iran reached out to Washington, following American military successes in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush declared that country part of the “Axis of Evil.”

Iran later funded, trained, and helped lead a Shiite insurgency against the United States in Iraq. In tit-for-tat fashion, US forces raided an Iranian diplomatic office there and arrested several staffers. As Washington slowly withdrew its military from that country, Iran increased its support for pro-Tehran leaders in Baghdad. When Iran’s nuclear program grew, the United States attacked its computers with malware, launching what was in effect thefirst cyberwar in history. At the same time, Washington imposed economic sanctions on the country and its crucial energy production sector.

In short, for the last 36 years, the US-Iranian relationship has been hostile, antagonistic, unproductive, and often just plain mean. Neither country seems to have benefited, even as both remained committed to the fight.

IRAN ASCENDANT

Despite the best efforts of the United States, Iran is now the co-dominant power in the Middle East. And rising. (Washington remains the other half of that “co.”)

Another quick plunge into largely forgotten history: The United States stumbled into the post-9/11 era with two invasions that neatly eliminated Iran’s key enemies on its eastern and western borders—Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. (The former is, of course, gone for good; the latter is doing better these days, though unlikely to threaten Iran for some time.) As those wars bled on without the promised victories, America’s military weariness sapped the desire in the Bush administration for military strikes against Iran. Jump almost a decade ahead, and Washington now quietly supports at least some of that country’s military efforts in Iraq against the insurgent Islamic State. The Obama administration is seemingly at least half-resigned to looking the other way while Tehran ensures that it will have a puppet regime in Baghdad. In its serially failing strategies in Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria, Washington has all but begged the Iranians to assume a leading role in those places. They have.


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And that only scratches the surface of the new Iranian ascendancy in the region. Despite the damage done by US-led economic sanctions, Iran’s real strength lies at home. It is probably the most stable Muslim nation in the Middle East. It has existed more or less within its current borders for thousands of years. It is almost completely ethnically, religiously, culturally, and linguistically homogeneous, with its minorities comparatively under control. While still governed in large part by its clerics, the country has nonetheless experienced a series of increasingly democratic electoral transitions since the 1979 revolution. Most significantly, unlike nearly every other nation in the Middle East, Iran’s leaders do not rule in fear of an Islamic revolution. They already had one.

WHY IRAN WON’T HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Now, about those nukes. It would take a blind man in the dark not to notice one obvious fact about the Greater Middle East: Regimes the United States opposes tend to find themselves blasted into chaos once they lose their nuclear programs. The Israelis destroyed Saddam’s program, as they did Syria’s, from the air. Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya went down the drain thanks to American/NATO-inspired regime change after he voluntarily gave up his nuclear ambitions. At the same time, no one in Tehran could miss how North Korea’s membership in the regime-change club wasn’t renewed once that country went nuclear. Consider those pretty good reasons for Iran to develop a robust nuclear weapons program—and not give it up entirely.


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While, since 2002, Washington hasn’t taken a day off in its saber-rattling toward Iran, it isn’t the only country the clerics fear. They are quite convinced that Israel, with its unacknowledged but all too real nuclear arsenal, is capable and might someday be willing to deliver a strike via missile, aircraft, or submarine.

Now, here’s the added irony: American sabers and Israeli nukes also explain why Iran will always remain a nuclear-threshold state—one that holds most or all of the technology and materials needed to make such a weapon, but chooses not to take the final steps. Just exactly how close a country is at any given moment to having a working nuclear weapon is called “breakout time.” If Iran were to get too close, with too short a breakout time, or actually went nuclear, a devastating attack by Israel and/or the United States would be a near inevitability. Iran is not a third-world society. Its urban areas and infrastructure are exactly the kinds of things bombing campaigns are designed to blow away. So call Iran’s nuclear program a game of chicken, but one in which all the players involved always knew who would blink first.



THE US-IRAN NUCLEAR ACCORD

So if Iran was never going to be a true nuclear power and if the world has lived with Iran as a threshold state for some time now, does the July accord matter?

There are two answers to that question: It doesn’t and it does.

It doesn’t really matter, because the deal changes so little on the ground. If the provisions of the accord are implemented as best we currently understand them, with no cheating, then Iran will slowly move from its current two- to three-monthbreakout time to a year or more. Iran doesn’t have nukes now, it would not have nukes if there were no accord, and it won’t have nukes with the accord. In other words, the Vienna agreement successfully eliminated weapons of mass destruction that never existed.

It does really matter, because, for the first time in decades, the two major powers in the Middle East have opened the door to relations. Without the political cover of the accord, the White House could never envisage taking a second step forward.

It’s a breakthrough because through it the United States and Iran acknowledge shared interests for the first time, even as they recognize their ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. That’s how adversaries work together: You don’t have to make deals like the July accord with your friends. Indeed, President Obama’s description of how the deal will be implemented—based on verification, not trust—represents a precise choice of words. The reference is to President Ronald Reagan, who used the phrase “trust but verify” in 1987 when signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the Russians.

The agreement was reached the old-school way, by sitting down at a table over many months and negotiating. Diplomats consulted experts. Men and women in suits, not in uniform, did most of the talking. The process, perhaps unfamiliar to a post-9/11 generation raised on the machismo of “you’re either with us or against us,” is called compromise. It’s an essential part of a skill that is increasingly unfamiliar to Americans: diplomacy. The goal is not to defeat an enemy, find quick fixes, solve every bilateral issue, or even gain the release of the four Americans held in Iran. The goal is to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution to a specific problem. Such deft statecraft demonstrates the sort of foreign-policy dexterity American voters have seldom seen exercised since Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize (Cuba being the sole exception).



IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

While diplomacy brought the United States and Iran to this point, cash is what will expand and sustain the relationship.

Iran, with the fourth-largest proven crude-oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves on the planet, is ready to start selling on world markets as soon as sanctions lift. Its young people reportedly yearn for greater engagement with the West. The lifting of sanctions will allow Iranian businesses access to global capital and outside businesses access to starved Iranian commercial markets.

Since November 2014, the Chinese, for example, have already doubled their investment in Iran. European companies, including Shell and Peugeot, are now holding talks with Iranian officials. Apple is contacting Iranian distributors. Germany sent a trade delegation to Tehran. Ads for European cars and luxury goods are starting to reappear in the Iranian capital. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of foreign technology and expertise will need to be acquired if the country is to update its frayed oil and natural gas infrastructure. Many of its airliners are decades old and need replacement. Airlines in Dubai are fast adding new Iran routes to meet growing demand. The money will flow. After that, it will be very hard for the war hawks in Washington, Tel Aviv, or Riyadh to put the toothpaste back in the tube, which is why you hear such screaming and grinding of teeth now.

THE REAL FEARS OF THE ISRAELIS AND THE SAUDIS

Neither Israel nor the Saudis ever really expected to trade missile volleys with a nuclear-armed Iran, nor do their other primary objections to the accord hold much water. Critics have said the deal will last only 10 years. (The key provisions scale in over 10 years, then taper off.) Leaving aside that a decade is a lifetime in politics, this line of thinking also presumes that, as the calendar rolls over to 10 years and a day, Iran will bolt from the deal and go rogue. It’s a curious argument to make.

Similarly, any talk of the accord touching off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is long out of date. Israel has long had the bomb, with no arms race triggered. Latent fears that Iran will create “the Islamic Bomb” ignore the fact that Pakistan, with its own hands dirty from abetting terror and plenty of Islamic extremists on hand, has been a nuclear power since at least 1998.

No, what fundamentally worries the Israelis and the Saudis is that Iran will rejoin the community of nations as a diplomatic and trading partner of the United States, Asia, and Europe. Embarking on a diplomatic offensive in the wake of its nuclear deal, Iranian officials assured fellow Muslim countries in the region that they hoped the accord would pave the way for greater cooperation. American policy in the Persian Gulf, once reliably focused only on its own security and energy needs, may (finally) start to line up with an increasingly multifaceted Eurasian reality. A powerful Iran is indeed a threat to the status quo—hence the upset in Tel Aviv and Riyadh—just not a military one. Real power in the 21st century, short of total war, rests with money.

The July accord acknowledges the real-world power map of the Middle East. It does not make Iran and the United States friends. It does, however, open the door for the two biggest regional players to talk to each other and develop the kinds of financial and trade ties that will make conflict more impractical. After more than three decades of US-Iranian hostility in the world’s most volatile region, that is no small accomplishment. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 7:28am

(pls excuse the ads for other articles in the above)

Comment by koshersalaami on July 30, 2015 at 7:44am
It's ham handed and it's a bad analogy. I'll bet Bibi isn't offended. At all. I think he'd defend Huckabee here. We're annoyed in part because we don't need Huckabee (or Netanyahu) speaking for us; that part is condescending. We have our own extremely loud voice here.

Strangely, in this case, the Nazi analogy involves no hyperbole.

It's a bad analogy because, unlike with the Holocaust, an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel would be suicidal. However, an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel would involve Jewish deaths on a Nazi scale.

The question is twofold.

One is how you view Iranian leadership. They are rather conservative, leading to the conclusion that a nuclear armed Iran would not be inclined to use its weaponry. However, they are also rather fanatical clerics in a religious movement that views suicide bombing as a religiously good thing followed by an inevitable eternal celestial reward. If Israeli nuclear retaliation sends a whole nation to eternal Heaven, does that retaliation constitute a deterrent to the Iranian government?

Bibi would say it doesn't. Not that the Israeli intelligence community agrees with him, but he personally would say it doesn't. If you hold that view, once the Iranians achieve nuclear capability, Israel is dead.

The second question has to do with the agreement. The Obama administration contends that the agreement they have is the most effective way to at least slow down, and very drastically, Iranian nuclear arms development. The Republicans think a better alternative is available. They are wrong. Very wrong. War with Iran would be a regional disaster and they discount what the delay buys us. The Iranian public is neither anti American nor anti Israeli. There has been a significant online civilian anti war campaign - just about war between Iran and Israel - involving civilians of both countries talking to each other. There is also the possibility that during that period someone will be elected in Israel who will get serious about defusing tensions with the Palestinians and really work toward statehood. If the Palestinians get a state, the big reason for war goes away.

So, while I certainly don't appreciate Huckabee's action, I get it.

As regards the abortion question:
That is a question of definition. We don't relate to this kind of talk because we define fetuses as fetuses, not as babies, and we view them as not being the same thing at all. But how do you react if you do define them as the same thing? How would you react if fifty-five million babies were legally killed in the United States?

Here's how we argue that issue:
It's a women's rights issue and most Americans want the killing of babies that young to be legal.

That is what Huckabee hears. If that's how we argue, how do you expect him to react? If you thought fifty-five million babies had been murdered in American hospitals and clinics with government support, how would you react?

We approach the abortion issue strictly by mobilizing voters, never by getting into the definitions involved. The logical result of that formula is Huckabee and abortion clinic terrorism.

where I think Huckabee switches from genuine heartfelt morality into politics is in doing what all the Republicans have done regarding the Iranian nuclear deal: they haven't read it and are just assuming they know what it says. Past that, though I Find Huckabee's reaction irritating, it's way more defensible than a lot of what else we've heard in ths campaign.
Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 7:48am

Kosh thanks...and I'll want your and others' takes on the article immediately above.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 8:08am

Donna  I look forward to it. 

Comment by koshersalaami on July 30, 2015 at 8:58am
Donna,
If you can put anything up on Open Salon, my hat's off to you.

Jon,
Good article.
I think trade with Iran is a good idea. More integrated countries tend to be more moderate countries. Less of the straight propaganda mishegas. I don't care about Saudi worries and we"ll see about Israel's.

One great point the article makes is that Iran isn't worried about an Islamic Revolution. Not only have they had one, but it' s'more conservative than new ones would be, and that's a very good thing.

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