The symptomatic madness of Mike Huckabee

So, Mike Huckabee has gone to occupied East Jerusalem, hosted by a group of Israeli extremists and religious fanatics, and declared that, as AP puts it, “the international community should consider establishing a Palestinian state some place else.” The former Governor of Arkansas and GOP presidential nomination candidate is quoted as saying, "The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic."

He has uttered such wicked twaddle many times in the past. In 2007, Huckabee is reported to have “stated that he supports creating a Palestinian state, but believes that it should be formed outside of Israel. He named Egypt and Saudi Arabia as possible alternatives…” This of course suggests the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the occupied territories into other Arab areas, for the convenience of Israel and to fulfill Huckabee’s political and, I have no doubt, religious fantasies.

Just to clarify, then, Huckabee thinks that it is “unrealistic” to establish a Palestinian state in Palestine – the place where most Palestinians live, where the population of the occupied territories is overwhelmingly Palestinian, and where both international law and international, Arab and Palestinian consensus, and the majority of Israelis if one is to believe the polls, believe a Palestinian state should be established – and that it should be “somewhere else” because all of Palestine constitutes simply “the Jewish homeland.” Apparently he also thinks it is “realistic,” for more than 5 million Palestinians to simply pick up and leave their homes, or be forced out, and relocate “somewhere else.”

Unfortunately, we need not wonder where such ridiculous ideas come from, or what motivates them. Huckabee is a fundamentalist Christian preacher, a former staffer of TV huckster James Robison, an adherent of “Bible inerrancy,” an obscurantist creationist opposed to science, and, judging from his attitudes on the Middle East, quite possibly a pre-millennial dispensationalist to boot. His comments opposing Palestinian national rights and supporting not only the occupation but the annexation and ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories are usually couched in terms of Israel’s “security,” but his, shall we say, unrealistic or even surreal attitudes could well betray the weird dogma of what is often wrongly called “Christian Zionism.”

This is generally derived from pre-millennial dispensationalism, a bizarre strand of Christian theology which holds that all of history is divided up into a series of discrete teleological dispensations, and that we are currently living at the last stages of the final dispensation leading up to the Apocalypse and the second coming of Christ. Many adherents of this prodigious delusion believe that the complete control by Jews of all of “the [biblical] land of Israel” (now completely and conveniently conflated with precise territory of mandatory Palestine between the two world wars) is required before Armageddon, Apocalypse and the return of Christ to rule over the kingdom of heaven on earth or some such gobbledygook. No prizes for guessing what then happens to the Jews and all others who do not instantly convert to the cause of Jesus (hence, this is anything but Zionism no matter what these fanatics and those Jewish Israelis and freinds of Israel who foolishly accept their tainted support may care to tell themselves or others).

Huckabee’s madness in this instance is particularly shameless and off the wall, but at its heart, it represents a very widespread symptom and shares several key features with all other efforts to think up some kind of alternative scenario to ending the occupation and having two states living side-by-side in peace. Huckabee’s solution – simply move the Palestinians out – joins the ranks of all of those “solutions” to the conflict that are completely unacceptable to one of the two parties. It’s certainly wackier, more ruthless and indeed evil than most, but insofar as it is completely unworkable, a nonstarter and utterly unimaginable given the complete resistance any such idea would meet, it ultimately belongs in the same category as other all the other unworkable notions that ignore the basic national interests of one of the two parties. The bottom line is this: any scenario that does not address the minimal requirements of both Israelis and Palestinians is not an idea for ending the conflict or a “solution” at all. They are placeholders, substitutes for having an idea, excuses for avoiding the most difficult choices facing Israelis and Palestinians, and their allies around the world.

Anything that falls short of full recognition of Israel in its internationally recognized borders won’t fly – and that includes Hamas’ hudna, the idea of an Islamic state, and the idea of a single democratic state. It’s obvious that Israelis won’t accept any of these, and will fight bitterly, vigorously and virtually unanimously against them. Anything that falls short of ending the occupation and the establishment of a fully sovereign, viable Palestinian state – and that includes any notion a provisional or limited statehood, a modified, pacified occupation, or the return of Gaza to Egypt and parts of the West Bank to Jordan – won’t be accepted by the Palestinians and the other Arabs, and they will fight bitterly, vigorously and virtually unanimously against them too.

Huckabee’s comments are particularly ridiculous, but they’re useful in reminding us of the clear distinction between workable and unworkable ideas. In formal logic, this is described as a “reductio ad absurdum,” a proposition that inevitably leads to a self-contradictory conclusion. It takes Israel’s security arguments to their logical extreme and envisages not only the permanent denial of Palestinian national rights, but the removal and relocation of the Palestinians themselves. There are plenty of other “ideas” for resolving the conflict that take reasonable propositions and spin them out to their logical conclusions, oblivious to fundamental realities. Not all unworkable ideas are equally silly, equally fatuous or equally immoral. However, if they are completely unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of people on one side or the other, they are equally unworkable and equally useless.