On Mike Huckabee Comments

Mike Huckabee's comparison of the nuclear weapons deal with Iran to the Holocaust


“Mike Huckabee’s comparison of the nuclear weapons deal with Iran to the Holocaust, with the phrase that President Obama ‘will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven,’ is shockingly insensitive and unacceptable.  Most politicians have learned that Holocaust metaphors are inappropriate and insulting, especially to the memory of the millions murdered by the Nazis.  If Mike Huckabee loves Israel as much as he professes, he will apologize and urge others to avoid using language that trivializes the Holocaust.”

My Response

Dear Jack,

I know that, especially in politics, many things are said, and many things are not said, because of implications and consequences that are not obvious to others. This may be one of them.

I read what you wrote (in the name of the American Council for World Jewry) about Mike Huckabee with reference to his expression ‘will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven’.

One can argue with the figure of speech Huckabee used, as you have done. Some think it was not useful and others that it was damaging. Personally I do not think it to be very inappropriate because that is exactly what is the expressed intention of the present Iranian government. Similar, if not identical in methodology, to what Hitler did. And unfortunately for us, Hitler was basically successful. It is true, the Iranians have not said they want to lead the Israelis to the door of the oven. They want to turn the State of Israel into a crematorium. A former President of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani, said several years ago “…because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality”.

I do not think we should alienate the friends we have, especially in the present hostile environment in some segments of American society and, of course, in the population at large in Europe.

Let us bear in mind that Mike Huckabee, in addition to being an intelligent, warm and kind individual, is an extraordinary and devoted friend of the Jewish people and of Israel. If President Obama feels hurt by the above expression, as he stated, it is not our place to defend him, in this instance.

The President is a very enigmatic individual. It is impossible, if not very difficult to penetrate his inner thoughts. I still remember the fact that after hearing the many vitriolic sermons from Jeremiah Wright, this Reverend never received a proper response from Obama, nor did the American people. (Obama may have done so, and I am unaware of this fact. It is possible). Obama did not walk out of Church when he heard attacks against the American Government.

I know that Barack Obama is President of the USA, and that, therefore, Israel is not his prime preoccupation (except when some new apartments are being built in territories he considers off limits for Israel).

I, for one, think that the generation that was witness to the Holocaust cannot remain silent when overt threats of annihilation are made by anyone who can carry out those threats. And the highest political leadership of Iran has verbalized these threats in more than one occasion.

But politics has its own nuances and rules, and one has to do sometimes things which do not follow an impecable moral high road. I saw a clip from AIPAC where candidate Obama declared that Jerusalem will be the undivided capital of Israel under his presidency. He probably is not the only one who said one thing as a candidate and acted differently, forgetting that particular promise, when later in the White House.

I learned from Chavez, who in turn learned from Castro, not to let any insult or threat pass by without an immediate firm reaction.

Personally, I would have preferred a statement from the Council for World Jewry in response to what Khomenei said immediately after the signing of the agreement. When the people in a mass meeting in Iran shouted death to USA and death to Israel, Khomenei reacted by saying that God should listen to their prayers.

Several spokesmen of the Iranian government have said that their support for those groups, we consider terrorists, will continue after the signing as before, neither will their attitude toward Israel be changed.

Therefore, I think, our voice of protest should be constant. We should miss no opportunity to protest against the brazen and murderous attitude of Iran, that preaches the destruction of a bona fide member of the United Nations, the State of Israel. We should repeat, in every podium, and ad nauseam, this mantra: It is unacceptable, nay immoral, for an established government to advocate the destruction of another legally established State. A country that advocates such a course of action against another country, merits to be expelled from the United Nations.

Kindest personal regards,

Pynchas Brener

Rabbi Emeritus

Unión Israelita de Caracas