An attempt is made to share the truth regarding issues concerning Israel and her right to exist as a Jewish nation. This blog has expanded to present information about radical Islam and its potential impact upon Israel and the West. Yes, I do mix in a bit of opinion from time to time.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Hagel – a Litmus Test of Obama’s Attitude to Israel
The possible nomination of
former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense will
represent a litmus test as to whether President Obama is poised to
resume his anti-Israeli campaign, despite supporting Israel during
Operation Pillar of Defense and only last week employing a US veto in
favor of Israel at the UN.
One should not underestimate the
significance of appointing a man like Hagel to such a key post. He
represents one of the most hostile antagonists of Israel in the
mainstream political arena. Some of his views have even been compared to
the extremist policies promoted by Pat Buchanan, the former Republican
For example, Hagel has
questioned the patriotism of the American Jewish community – accusing
them of displaying dual loyalties - proclaiming that “the Jewish lobby
intimidates a lot of people” and that “I am a United States Senator not
an Israeli Senator”.
His indifference and even
hostility towards Israel has been completely out of synch with
mainstream congressional attitudes. He was one of four senators who
refused to sign a Senate letter supporting Israel during the second
Intifada. During the Second Lebanon War he blamed Israel and Hezbollah
equally for the conflict. He subsequently rebuffed efforts to persuade
the European Union to ban Hezbollah as a terrorist group. In 2009, he
urged Obama to engage in direct negotiations with Hamas. Earlier this
month, the Atlantic Council, which he chairs, published a front page
article titled “Israel’s apartheid policies”.
He has unfailingly opposed
sanctions or military action against Iran, warning that a nuclear Iran
was inevitable and “continued hostile relations between the US and Iran
will have the effect of isolating the United States”. He even refused to
endorse the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist
Hagel supported unconditional engagement with rogue states, stating “engagement is not surrender. It is not appeasement”.
He held both Assads (father and
son) in high regard. In 2008, together with Senator Kerry (now
designated to become Secretary of State), he co-authored an article in
the Wall Street Journal titled “It is time to talk to Syria” which
stated “Syria’s leaders have always made cold calculations in the name
of self-preservation and history shows that intensive diplomacy can pay
off”. As late as 2009, he was still urging the US to engage in dialogue
Hagel also favors reducing what
he described as the “bloated” Defense budget – unusual for a candidate
who would overview the Pentagon.
Based on this grotesque
political track record, even the liberal Washington Post editorial board
urged Obama to reject the nomination on the grounds that it was totally
inappropriate for such a sensitive position to be headed by a person
harboring views which would be regarded as “near the fringe of the
Hagel is supported by the wrong
people. These include the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR),
described by the FBI as an unindicted co-conspirator to fund Hamas and
also cited as an agent of the Moslem Brotherhood in America.
Stephen Walt, co-author of the
notorious book “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy”, which mimicked
classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, said that Hagel’s nomination would be
excellent because “unlike almost all of his former colleagues on Capitol
Hill, he has not been a complete doormat for the Israeli lobby” and is
“skeptical about the use of military force against Iran”. He also said
that the appointment would represent Obama’s “payback to Benjamin
Executive Director of J Street,
Jeremy Ben-Ami endorsed Hagel as “a fine choice” and “friend of Israel”.
He complained that “somebody of Chuck Hagel’s stature and significant
record of national service is being slandered”. Peter Beinart condemned
the White House for emboldening the “pro-Israel right” by failing to
Whilst public protests against the appointment have until now been somewhat muted, there have been criticisms.
Senior Wall Street Journal
columnist Bret Stephens stated that Hagel’s appointment would confirm
his belief that Obama is not a friend of Israel and that “Perhaps the
63% of Jewish Americans who cast their vote for Mr. Obama last month
might belatedly take note”.
In fact, Hagel’s nomination will
demonstrate whether pro-Israel Jewish Democrats who voted for Obama
carry any weight within the party or are now cynically taken for granted
as automated supporters irrespective of how the Democratic Party
behaves towards the Jewish state.
Interestingly enough, in 2009,
after Hagel was named co-chairman of the President’s Foreign
Intelligence Advisory Board, Ira Forman, then executive director of the
National Jewish Democratic Council (and subsequently appointed Obama’s
2012 Jewish outreach coordinator), felt impelled to state that “if Hagel
was taking a policy role, we’d have real concerns”. Forman currently
declined to comment on the far more significant role for which Hagel is
currently being considered.
Ed Koch, a passionate Zionist
and former Democratic mayor of New York who nevertheless endorsed Obama
in the elections, said that Hagel “would be a terrible appointment… and
would give comfort to the Arab world that would think that President
Obama is seeking to put space between Israel and his administration”.
Chief Executive of the Zionist
Organization of America (ZOA), Mort Klein, called on President Obama to
withdraw the nomination of one of the most consistently hostile
political critics of Israel. The ZOA summed up Hagel as “a frightening
and dangerous apologist for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as
for the terrorist regime of Iran, while being arguably one of the most
vicious and hostile critics of Israel”.
Anti-Defamation League Director,
Abe Foxman - who those on the right frequently accuse of deferring
unduly to the liberal establishment - stated that Hagel’s record on
Israel and the US-Israel relationship “is at best, disturbing and at
worst, very troubling. The sentiments he has expressed about the Jewish
lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of Professors John
Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt and former President Jimmy Carter”.
AJC Executive Director, David
Harris pointed out that as far back as 1999, Hagel was the only Senator
who refused to sign a letter urging Russian President Yeltsin to take
action to quash burgeoning anti-Semitism. He noted that the concerns the
AJC had about Hagel 13 years ago, remain today.
If nominated, Hagel’s
confirmation in the Senate will presumably be challenged. However,
despite holding views which conflict starkly with mainstream Congress
foreign affairs attitudes, rejecting him may be complicated by the fact
that he is a former Republican Senator and a popular, highly decorated
But there should be no
illusions. This is a watershed and litmus test of Obama’s attitude to
the Jewish state. Should Hagel’s appointment be confirmed it would be
perceived as a signal of the president’s determination to revive his
earlier efforts to distance the US from Israel and that we are likely to
face massive problems during the course of this administration.
To appoint as Secretary of
Defense, a man who has consistently opposed sanctions as well as
military action against Iran would also undermine Israel’s confidence
that Obama was sincere when throughout the elections he repeatedly vowed
that Iran would never become a nuclear power under his watch.