(JTA) — During a visit to Israel, Mike Huckabee, an ex-governor of Arkansas and former candidate in the U.S. Republican presidential primaries, defended the anti-Muslim rhetoric of presumptive nominee Donald Trump, whom Huckabee said would make a “great president” for the Jewish state.
“It’s not racist. I think a lot of people are acting like what Donald Trump is saying is so unbelievable,” Huckabee told Israel’s Army Radio Thursday in reference to the Republican presidential candidate’s call in December for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. “Actually, what he’s saying is what every country on earth does right now.”
“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but virtually all the terrorists who are doing the kind of murders we’re seeing in America are Muslims,” Huckabee said.
Data from the New American Foundation shows that of the 28 deadly domestic terrorist attacks carried out in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, 10 of those attacks were related to Islamic extremism and 18 were carried out by right-wing extremists.
Huckabee, a supporter of Israel and Jewish causes who ran unsuccessfully in the party’s primaries in 2008 and 2016, said Trump would be “a great president for Israel,” who “unlike Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama will see that the partnership with Israel is as essential to Washington just as it is essential for Jerusalem.”
Last year, after Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying he “rejects Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims,” adding, “The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world.”
Of Israel’s 8 million citizens, 1.4 million, or 17.5 percent, are Muslim, according to its Central Bureau of statistics.
Huckabee also said the Obama Administration was failing at dealing with extremist Muslim terrorism, because it does not label it as connected to radical Islam, including after the June 11 slaying by a American man of 49 people in Orlando. The perpetrator of that attack expressed his sympathies for the ISIS terrorist group.
“The policies of our current administration have not been helpful in going after ISIS in part because you can’t treat a disease unless you identify it as what it is. The president was more angry over a Republican calling him out for not using the term radical Islam than he seemed to show for the act of terrorism itself,” Huckabee said.
On Tuesday, Obama dismissed this criticism in a televised address, in which he said: “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction. Since before I was president, I’ve been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism.”