I know some will question whether Senator Hagel's assurances are merely attempts to quiet critics as he seeks confirmation to this critical post. But I don't think so. Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago. His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality.
What exactly has changed for Israel in the past five years? Granted, the Arab Spring has made the neighborhood that much more unstable, but do the Chuckies truly believe that five years ago Israel was not in danger from her neighbors? Are they both so ignorant as to believe that Hagel's positions were justified five years ago because the poor Palestinians were the victims of Israeli aggression but that now that Hagel is up for the big leagues, the dynamics have changed? Were they not aware that five years ago, Iran's Ahmadinejad was calling for Israel to be wiped off the map and pursuing nuclear weapons without sanctions slowing him down? (Oh, right: Hagel knows about that, because he was against sanctions and in favor of chit-chatting with the mullahs).
Why were the Iranian-made weapons that flowed through the smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza insignificant five years ago and suddenly game-changing today? Why did Hagel believe that Hamas, Hezb'allah, Syria, and Iran were of little concern to Israel's survival five years ago, but a week after Obama nominates him to a cabinet position, Hagel has suddenly seen the light?
And why should anyone trust Chuck Schumer's opinion on any of this? Schumer seems to have completely ignored the fact that Hagel chairs the Atlantic Council with well-known anti-Semite Chas Freeman. This is the same Chas Freeman whose nomination in 2009 failed due to his open hostility to Israel and who then blamed the Israel Lobby. Only a month ago, Freeman stated:
In some countries, like the United States, Israel can rely upon a "fifth column" of activist sympathizers to amplify its messages, to rebut and discredit statements that contradict its arguments, facts, and fabrications, and to impugn the moral standing of those who make such statements.
And just last month, Hagel's organization posted an article entitled "Israel's Apartheid State" on the home page of its website. But Schumer is sure that Hagel's conversion is sincere and reliable. If he truly believes that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell him.
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