Huckabee: US Response to Hamas Kidnappings 'Weak'
JERUSALEM, Israel -- President Barack Obama should be speaking out boldly on behalf of an abducted American teenager in Israel and against his terrorist kidnappers, and the U.S. should be making it clear that the perpetrators are not going to get away with it, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told CBN News.
Huckabee, who is currently in Israel, made his first stop on Sunday evening to visit the family of kidnapped American-Israeli citizen Naftali Fraenkel.
"This is one of our kids, you know, and you just have a sense of responsibility. We really do have, you know, not just sort of an interest -- we have a responsibility because he has American citizenship," Huckabee told CBN News.
Huckabee said Americans are concerned when children are kidnapped all over the world, as they were when 300 Nigerian girls were abducted recently by the terror group Boko Haram. But there's more at stake with Fraenkel, he said, because he's an American.
Huckabee said despite that the U.S. reaction has been weak and confusing.
"I want the President [Obama] to speak out. I want him to speak out boldly. I want to hear it from [Secretary of State] John Kerry," Huckabee told CBN News.
"I don't want to hear Jen Psaki from the State Department trot out this ridiculously idiotic statement saying we hope both sides will show 'restraint' because I want to ask her, 'What are the two sides here?'" he challenged.
"On one hand you have a kidnapped American citizen and on the other hand you've got some evil, horrible people who would do it," Huckabee said. "What restraint on behalf of the child should be shown?"
"I mean, if somebody takes my child there will be no restraint. There should be no restraint and the United States should say, 'We will stop at nothing to find out who did it, to get these boys back and to make sure that the punishment for what they have done greatly exceeds whatever reward they thought they were going to obtain out of it,'" he added.
Fraenkel, 16, was abducted along with Israelis Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah as they waited for a ride home from school on June 12 in Gush Etzion, biblical Judea (the West Bank).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas terrorists carried out the attack. Israel has turned the West Bank upside down since then looking for the teens and arresting suspects.
Huckabee was wearing a yellow ribbon, reminiscent of the 1973 Tony Orlando song "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," which has become the hallmark song for anyone returning from captivity.
He said his visit with the Fraenkel family was "amazing" and noted that Naftali's mother Rachel is a Jewish Bible teacher.
"It was a remarkable opportunity to visit with these incredibly resilient parents, who are going through what has to be the worst nightmare any parent will ever face," he said.
"The Fraenkels showed an extraordinary sense of resolve and strength and hope and optimism. They're people of great faith," he said.
"They are living on the strength and the prayers of people from all over the world, who find what happened to their sons to be absolutely just abhorrent," he added.