Wednesday, August 20, 2008

U.S. VP Hopeful Huckabee Visits Sderot

Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel

"We don't have a frame of reference for the spirit of radical Islam. That's why having tea [with our enemies] won't work. The language doesn't work. It's like trying to hook a Mac up to a PC."

U.S. vice-presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee stopped in Sderot Tuesday as part of his whirlwind tour of Israel, and voiced support for the victims of the rocket attacks in the area. Huckabee was joined in Sderot by New York City Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who arranged Huckabee’s Israel tour, and Rabbi David Fendel, head of the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot. Also present were representatives of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project (Ateret Cohanim), who coordinated Huckabee’s Israel trip along with Hikind.

The tour started at the Sderot police station, where the former Arkansas governor - said to be on Republic Presidential candidate John McCain's "short list" of potential running mates - saw hundreds of Kassam rockets on display. The governor was given a briefing by one of the officers at the station. Huckabee asked a number of questions about the Kassam rockets, including how far they travel, what types of rockets are used by the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority terrorists in Gaza, and which different PA terror organizations are involved in the firing of the rockets.

Upon leaving the Sderot police station, the governor stopped to speak to reporters. "There is nothing normal about waking up everyday and having to worry about your children getting hurt in a rocket attack," he said. "No bandage or medicine can cure the suffering of the children of Sderot."

'McCain Understands the Iranian Threat'
When asked by a reporter why John McCain is a better candidate than Democrat Barak Obama, Huckabee said, "John McCain understands the threat Iran represents to the world.”

The former governor, political commentator and ordained Southern Baptist minister was taken to the home of a family that had suffered a direct hit in a Kassam attack. He was shown pieces of shrapnel that remained from the Kassam rocket as he stood under the gaping hole where the rocket smashed into the house. After a brief mental calculation based on the number of residents in Sderot and the number or rockets that have landed there, the governor then asked: "How many Americans would tolerate living in a place where one in every eight people has a chance of getting hit by a rocket?" The homeowner was extremely grateful and visibly moved by the former governor's show of support in visiting his home and concern for the plight of the family.

Next, the governor was treated to a lunch at the Sderot Hesder Yeshiva, followed by a tour of the yeshiva’s campus led by Rabbi Fendel. The rabbi showed the governor the yeshiva’s new "Kassam-proof" Beit Medrash (study hall), which is set to open for the upcoming High Holidays. He also showed Minister Huckabee the institution’s new "Kassam-proof" housing units currently under construction.

Rabbi Fendel said the yeshiva views construction in Sderot as the ultimate Zionist response to the Kassams. "When Gaza terrorists look through their binoculars towards Sderot," he said, "they see buildings going up, instead of the ghost town they are hoping to create."

The poignancy of a respected rabbi taking pride in his rocket-proof yeshiva was not lost on Huckabee. From the roof of the new Torah study hall overlooking Gaza, the governor commented on the threat of radical Islam: "Both Christians and Jews share a culture of life. They [the Arab terrorists] share a culture of death and destruction.

"We don't have a frame of reference for the spirit of radical Islam," the visiting American politician said. "That's why having tea [with our enemies] won't work. The language doesn't work. It's like trying to hook a Mac up to a PC."

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