Former governor Mike Huckabee made waves Saturday when he brought Nazi gas chambers into a discussion on the Iranian nuclear deal. Manischewitz for everyone!
Categorically accusing the Obama administration–with little mention of fellow Iran negotiators Britain, Russia, France, China or Germany–of leading Israel to the “door of the oven,” the blowback was immediate, with the presidential hopeful receiving condemnation from both the right and the left.
The censure only increased as days passed and Huckabee refused to backtrack or even apologize for any offense he might have caused, going so far as to up the ante with increased Holocaust rhetoric, posting to social media platitudes of “Never again” and explaining in several media appearances just how many times he’s visited Auschwitz, the Jewish equivalent of claiming to not be a racist and then listing each black friend you have.
To be clear, it is a communal Jewish tenant: Thou Shalt Not Compare Things To The Holocaust. Critics of the remarks have pointed out the emotional manipulation of drawing such a comparison, and warned that these tactics could one day dilute the memory of the attempted extermination of an entire class of people.
In perhaps the most perplexing of strategies, Huckabee announced today that not only is he not sorry, but he has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the Jewish community. While we can’t verify what Jews he might be talking about, here is a list of people that generalization would not apply to:
The Israeli Government
Whatever your opinion of his politics may be, it is no question that Huckabee is a huge supporter of Israel, making the swift criticism out of the Israeli government all the more newsworthy. Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said, “These are not words…that I think are appropriate.” And “nobody marches the Jews to ovens anymore,” said Israel Katz, a Knesset member in Netanyahu’s conservative Likkud party.
“To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening. The great tragedy of the Holocaust saw the Jews of Europe without allies and without power at the worst possible moment,” said the Anti-Defamation League, arguably the US’s most visible Jewish advocacy group.
“It shows utter, callous disregard for the millions of lives lost in the Shoah and to the pain still felt by their descendants today,” said the National Jewish Democratic Council, invoking the Hebrew word for the Holocaust.
“I would advise that no president of the United States should be compared in any way to Adolf Hitler,” said Simon Wiesenthal Center founder Rabbi Marvin Hier, who added the comments were “very harsh” and “over the top.” The SWC, of course, is the world’s leading group focused on locating and prosecuting Nazi criminals.
“Within the Jewish community, the Holocaust, the words associated with it, are unique,” said former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. “And even a sympathetic politician who wants to make certain the Holocaust is not repeated needs to be culturally aware of the unique words that should apply only to the Holocaust.”
Conservative Talk Show Hosts
Huckabee, when he isn’t ostracizing entire populations with his Holocaust memes, is something of a conservative media darling. Indeed, his past role as a Fox News commentator has particularly endeared him to the right-wing news station, where he received little love during a Tuesday appearance.
“I’m begging you to apologize,” said Geraldo Rivera, a Jew. “There are some places you cannot go. You cannot compare the slaughter of six million Jews to anything…You cannot compare it to a negotiation over a deal like this.”
Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, our people’s de facto moral sage on the issue, has spoken eloquently several times over on the subject of Holocaust comparisons. He’s even addressed the matter in regard to the Iranian nuclear threat. So in case Huckabee needs a reminder: “Iran is a threat, but can we say that it will make a second Auschwitz? I don’t compare anything to the Holocaust…Only Auschwitz was Auschwitz.”