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Columnist: Why holocaust analogies aren’t helping Republicans win Jewish votes

By John A. Tures

Contributing columnist

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Republicans have done everything they can to win the Jewish vote, never missing an opportunity to link Democrats and any foreign policy opponent to the Nazis and the holocaust. They just don’t get how offensive such remarks are to Jewish voters, continuing to drive them toward Democrats.

The latest came from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who recently said President Obama “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven,” in an interview with Breitbart News, according to Igor Bobic with the Huffington Post.

Conservative and liberal Jews criticized the remarks. His words were condemned by the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Anti-Defamation league. Even Geraldo Rivera and Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S.A. called the analogy inappropriate. Israelis reacted with outrage.

Certainly when you offend the group you support, even accidentally, you might take back those words. But not when you’re a 2016 candidate in this new age when Donald Trump allegedly gets into first place by never apologizing. Huckabee announced on Fox News that he wouldn’t recant those arguments. He made sure everyone heard his interview on his campaign site. And another Trump wannabe, Rick Santorum, publicly defended Huckabee, because that’s what you do in 2016.

And then Huckabee went one step further in an attempt to silence his critics.

“Three times I’ve been to Auschwitz,” he told Fox News. “When I talked about the oven door, I have stood at that oven door. I know exactly what it looks like — 1.1 million people killed.”

By that analogy, if I offend any Native Americans, I can always say I really understand Native Americans because I’ve been to Wounded Knee.

Now you know why Jewish voters consistently give large majorities of their votes to Democratic candidates, who often don’t go over the top with Nazi and holocaust remarks, or apologize if they go too far.

Huckabee also said in that interview, “This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal.” What’s ironic is that the Obama deal is the same deal Huckabee forcefully advocated when he ran for president in 2008, even penning a column to say as much in the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs — you can read it here: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2008-01-01/americas-priorities-war-terror — at a time when the hardliners like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were in power — who said they would wipe Israel off the face of the Earth — instead of today, where the moderate Rouhani regime is in charge. That’s another reason why Huckabee’s words ring hollow for Jewish voters.

Rereading Huckabee’s sensible article from 2008, it made me miss that politician who defied some in his own party with that stand, and came close to winning that nomination from John McCain. Now he seems to have become a parody of Trump just seven years later.

Huckabee claims to support Israel, but his insult of Jews with a bad analogy — and his refusal to apologize to the people he claims to love just to be more like Donald Trump — manages to be even more senseless than his epic flip flop.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College. He may be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu.