Former Arkansas Governor and probable Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee pulled no punches at a Jerusalem press conference Sunday morning, throwing his weight firmly behind the decision to invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress and fiercely criticizing the Obama administration's handling of Iran's nuclear program.
Huckabee, who is a regular visitor to and vocal supporter of Israel, began by expressing his admiration for the Jewish state, saying that "no matter how many times I've been here over the last 42 years, I never get tired. This is the land were it all started."
"There is so much history, but not only that; politically, there is no place more interesting, and at times more amusing, than Israel," he quipped, going on to praise Israel's lively democracy and culture of free speech "which makes US politics look comparatively sanguine."
Apart from shared values, Huckabee also underlined what he saw as the shared interests and "existential threats" of Israel and the US.
"Never before has there been such a critical moment, not only in the life of Israel but in the future of the world," he continued.
Specifically, the threat of "jihadism is existential not just to Israel but the rest of the world as well."
He called on Americans to understand "that Israel really is the canary in the coal mine."
"What a lot of Americans don't appreciate is that Israel is not the ultimate target of Islamic jihadists for annihilation. Many Americans think that if Israel would be destroyed it would be a shame, but it wouldn't really impact us – but it would."
Those shared values and interests are what make Israel and the US "not organizationally related" but "organically related."
Israel "is a nation which every day wears a bullseye on its back and stands in the crosshairs of all those who despite freedom," he declared.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear plan – and Netanyahu's plans to speak about the threat at the US Congress – Huckabee insisted that he "absolutely" supported the speech, and would encourage the Israeli PM to do so when he met him later in his trip.
He accused the White House of being petty and personal in its dealing with what has now become a major scandal between Jerusalem and Washington.
"The US-Israel relationship shouldn't be personal but an issue of principle," he said. "It's the issues which matter."
In that vein, Netanyahu should speak at Congress because "Americans need to know what the dangers are with Iran, and how the Iranian threat is not unique to Israel but… also involves the US and the rest of the world," both directly and via the threat of triggering a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
And regardless of whether or not the invitation was properly issued to Netanyahu or appropriately communicated to the White House, he said Obama should have "turned the lemon into lemonade," and treated the Israeli PM as the leader of America's closest ally, while waiting for a more private setting to issue his criticisms. "You don't criticize your friends on the front pages."
He even went so far as to compare Netanyahu's impending speech to the speech made by former US President Roosevelt after the Pearl Harbor attack, and President Reagan's famous "tear down this wall" speech in 1987.
Netanyahu, he said, "is uniquely qualified" to communicate the threat posed by Iran to the free world, contrasting him to what he saw as Obama's naiveté in his negotiation strategy with Iran.
Using a metaphor to describe Iran and the threat it poses internationally, Huckabee reached back to his upbringing in rural Arkansas, comparing the regime in Tehran to a snake.
The Ayatollah's objectives are not limited to regional gains or more influence within the UN, but global domination, he insisted, and to "act as if their motives are otherwise" would require "ignoring the entire history of the early twentieth century."
"Iran is a global snake… When you're dealing with snakes you're dealing with an entity with which you cannot reason.
"It doesn't matter why the snake wants to bite you. You don't try to befriend it, or pet it – you kill the snake before it has a chance to bite you."
Turning to the Obama administration's handling of negotiations, he excoriated its abandonment of basic negotiation principles.
"Why tell them what we're not going to do?" he asked incredulously. "In a fight you don't give away your strategy… you never tell your opponent what you're going to do.
"It's important to know your limitations – but it's stupid to announce them to your opponent!"
Asked how he would do things differently, he responded: "Tell them everything is on the table. Make it very clear: You're not going to have a nuclear weapon."
"To negotiate with someone who's never negotiated or acted in good faith is like negotiating with a snake," he added, "when you publicly say the things the Iranians say… when you deny the Holocaust…"
Although acknowledging that "it's pretty evident I'm moving in the direction" of announcing his candidacy for the US presidential elections, Huckabee refused to say more, only that he would be making a definite announcement in the spring.
But he did warn that those elections will pose a stark choice for Americans.
"The US has to decide whether to be a follower or a leader. It needs to be a nation which doesn't apologize.
"Taking a back seat has been disastrous. We can't be the world police and intervene everywhere, but we should have extraordinary strength to deter hostile nations or terrorists from wanting to test us.
"You can't be that strong with a lack of resources, but more importantly with a lack of resolve to follow through," he said in a not-so-subtle criticism of the Obama administration's inability "to stand by its red lines."
Asked about persistent rumors of attempts by the White House or other political actors to influence the Israeli elections and usher in a left-wing government more open to concessions, Huckabee cautioned that there was a difference between simply hiring American PR agents and "political operatives", and actual interference by the US administration – which he said would be "criminal" and "totally unacceptable."
"It is not unusual that US political operatives will be hired throughout the world, because they're good at what they do," he explained.
"But if there was a direct correlation between official (US) government agencies or any other official agency then that would be illegal and unethical, and that's the kind of thing someone should go to jail for."
Following the press conference, Huckabee spoke to Arutz Sheva to share his thoughts on those issues and several others – including how parts of the western media have given in to terror: