JERUSALEM – As one of the most well-known and most influential Evangelical Christians in the United States, Mike Huckabee is also one of the most pro-Israel.
In an exclusive interview with me, Huckabee -- who serves on the Advisory Board of ALL ISRAEL NEWS -- warned of a “spiritual battle” that is underway against Israel and her friends.
And he pointedly warned of systematic attacks being waged in the media and in colleges and universities against the Bible, Judeo-Christian values and against a biblical understanding of Israel and the Jewish people.
The former Arkansas governor is especially concerned by an effort within academia to “indoctrinate” Evangelical Christian young people to turn against their parents’ and grandparents’ understanding of, and support for, the Jewish state.
And Huckabee has specific advice on how to fight back.
Raised a Southern Baptist, the former chairman of the National Governors Association and two-time presidential candidate is now the host of his own program on the TBN Christian television network. He is also a best-selling author and popular speaker in churches and Christian conferences, as well as to Jewish organizations and business groups.
Having 1.6 million Twitter followers also gives his views enormous reach.
In a wide-ranging interview that covered the historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership to even negotiating with Israel, Huckabee shared two strategies to strengthen the faith of Christian young people and to encourage them to understand God’s love for Israel and the Jewish people.
Huckabee spoke directly to Christian parents and grandparents:
Bring young people to Israel and let them see it for themselves;
And don’t send your kids to colleges that are hostile to the Bible, or even to Christian colleges that have strayed from a solid understanding of the Scriptures.
Huckabee said he first came to Israel in 1973, two months before the Yom Kippur War broke out, as it happened. He was 17 years old.
“I felt at home in a place I’d never been,” he said, saying the visit was a “spiritual” experience that moved him deeply.
In 1981, Huckabee led his first tour group to Israel. Since then, he usually comes back to the Holy Land about three to four times a year.
“I have lost count of how many times I have been,” he said, but added, “I am sure I have brought tens of thousands of people over the course of the last 40 years to Israel.”
Why does he bring so many, so often?
Huckabee wants Evangelicals “to connect to the Scriptures, which there is no better place to do that than [in] Israel,” he said, to see where Jesus and the apostles and prophets walked, talked and ministered, and thus to understand their Bibles better.
“There is something overwhelming about the spiritual pilgrimage to Israel,” he said.
Huckabee also believes that visiting Israel helps to counter the anti-Israel narrative and bias that is found in so much of the media.
“I also want them [Christians] to see firsthand what the news media will never tell them,” he said. “I want them to walk the streets. I want them to absorb the culture. I want them to see the security that Israel provides for its people, and the manner in which this country, as a modern country, exists, and to see and to be overwhelmed and marvel at the technological advances.”
“In part, Joel, it’s because I see a great similarity between the pioneer days of America, when people came for freedom and religious liberty and they risked everything in order to create the United States. I see that same kind of pioneer spirit among the Israelis who have risked everything in order to be able to raise their families with freedom and with a sense of security. The parallels are stunning.”
Huckabee’s own grandchildren will be going to college in another 10 years.
“I will do everything I can to keep them out of a college or university – including a so-called Christian college or university – that does not respect and honor all of the Scripture, and that includes support for Israel,” he said. “They may go to one of those schools, but I’m not going to help pay for it.”
To counter the bias emanating from college campuses, Huckabee encourages Christian parents to take their children to Israel and to refuse to subsidize an education that could subvert their faith.
“What has taken place in American academia was a gradual and now a rushing shift to the far left,” Huckabee continued. “Supporting the BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] Movement. Supporting the more radical notions that Israel is an apartheid state. And one of the reasons that I want to take people to Israel is to let them see for themselves. I don’t try to indoctrinate them. I simply say, ‘Look around for yourself and see what you see and go back home and tell people what you actually saw.’”
“But I worry because young people are being pressured to believe something that simply isn’t true,” he added. “In the same way, they’re being pressured to see America as a terrible place and evil and filled with systemic racism and awful history. The same thing is happening to Israel.”
“This is a spiritual battle,” Huckabee insisted. “I believe that with all my heart. This is a battle between good and evil. If you can indoctrinate young people – whether it’s about America or about Israel, and tell them that something that is good is really evil and something that is light is truly darkness – then you have destroyed their hope, their freedom….You’ve destroyed the biblical foundation and the spiritual foundation that both of these nations are founded upon.”
“That is frightening to me,” he concluded.
NOTE: Read part one of my interview here: Huckabee to Evangelicals: Israel-UAE peace deal an ‘incredible breakthrough'
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.