Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday accused the American administration and the United Nations of issuing lackluster responses to the abduction of three Israeli teenagers, including one who holds US citizenship.
During a visit to Israel, he denounced the international community’s calls for Israel to exercise restraint in trying to locate the youths, and said that he himself would show “no restraint toward a kidnapper.”
Huckabee, a former, and likely future, presidential candidate, also denounced the United Nations as “utterly worthless” and called upon the US to “jackhammer that thing right off the edge of Manhattan,” referring to the organization’s headquarters.
“What restraint should we show toward a kidnapper? I say we show no restraint toward a kidnapper. We show every compassion, every ounce of energy toward the kidnapped child,” he said.
Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Huckabee said that Americans are concerned about the kidnapping of teenagers regardless of their nationality, but that the fact that one of the three abducted youths — 16-year-old Naftali Fraenkel — is a dual Israeli-American citizen makes it an even more pressing issue for Washington.
“This is different. This is an American citizen. And because he’s an American citizen we have not just an emotional response, we would have constitutional duty that the whole world would understand that this takes it to a new level for the United States,” he said.
“You kidnap an American citizen — now all bets are off,” said Huckabee, a Republican. “We find you, we come get you. [If] you hurt that kid [you] don’t want to know what the results will be.”
On Monday, Huckabee visited the Fraenkel family in their home in Nof Ayalon to express his solidarity and support.
Asked by The Times of Israel what concrete steps he would take, if he were president, to bring about the teenagers’ release, Huckabee said he would provide Israel with any assistance required, and that he would make a public statement personally and not send a lower-level official to do so in his stead.
“I wouldn’t send some third-tier, lower-level State Department spokesman out with an absolutely embarrassing quote, saying we hope that both sides show restraint,” Huckabee said. He was referring to spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who on June 17 told US reporters that “we encourage all sides to operate with restraint.”
Huckabee, who served as governor from 1996 until 2007 and today is an influential radio and television talk show host, said he didn’t understand what Psaki was thinking when she spoke those words. “I think there are only two sides here, and the sides are evil and good. Evil commits kidnappings against innocent children. Good does whatever it can to get those children back and to punish to the full extent of the law anyone who would be a part of that.”
A Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee said he came to Israel this week also to make sure more Americans hear more about Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, as, he said, their kidnapping has not received sufficient attention in the United States. “This is why the president needs to make an open public statement. The sooner the better, and the louder the better. Because if the only official statement from the government comes from a spokesman in the State Department responding to a question — that’s hardly an initiative. And that’s very unfortunate.”
‘Jackhammer UN building right off the edge of Manhattan’
Huckabee also launched a diatribe against the UN for its approach to the kidnapping, suggesting the US should stop funding the organization and ban it from US territory.
The American president “should pick up the phone, call the UN and say: ‘You got 24 hours, you condemn [the abduction] or start packing your stuff and everybody gets a parking ticket in Manhattan.’ No more free rides here, something’s got to give. It’s out of control.”
On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “expressed concern over the increased violence, mass arrests, and restrictions on movement in the West Bank.” It is imperative, he said, “not to give in to provocations in a way that seems likely to escalate tensions still further,” but also extended sympathy and “deep solidarity” to the missing youths’ families.
“We should condemn the United Nations for their timidity, for their stupidity. It has become an utterly worthless organization,” Huckabee said. Founded as a forum for world leaders to gather and separate right from wrong, the UN has become a “forum for anti-Semitic hatred and bigotry, and for, frankly, anti-American hatred and bigotry,” he added. “This may be one of those times: get out the jackhammers, jackhammer that thing right off the edge of Manhattan, float it into the East River and invite anybody who’d like it to come and take it and tow it home.”