Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Posts’ blog Right Turn, bless her heart, has learned from her Senate sources that the “left-wing group J Street” was refusing to provide a video of Chuck Hagel speaking before the group’s first conference in 2009.
“Senators were tipped off that Hagel departed from his prepared remarks and made controversial comments to the J Street Conference. In exchanges with Senate Armed Services Committee staff, J Street volunteered the prepared remarks and said it decided not to provide the complete video for fear that Hagel’s remarks would be taken out of context,” Rubin wrote on Tuesday.
She commented that J Street would have to provide the tape, should the Armed Services Committee issues a subpoena for it. Finally, on Tuesday night, Rubin updated her story to report that J Street contacted the Senate Armed Services Committee to report that it was going to post the entire video of Hagel’s 2009 speech online.
I downloaded the video and sat and transcribed portions of the tape itself, to male sure they did not differ from the online text. In my opinion, the truly alarming text was delivered by Hagel in the official speech, which he read, word for word. I will get to it later, and share with you why I think Hagel may be the worst thing to hit the U.S.-Israel relationship since Casper Weinberger locked the IAF off the Iraqi ballistic missile launchers.
But, first, here’s the stuff that didn’t make it into the official speech, and came at the short Q&A portion at the end. Hagel was asked by the host what advise he would give newly elected Prseident Obama, who took him on as an advisor, regarding the Middle east.
Hagel responded: “Engagement. I’ve never understood a great nation like the United States who would be afraid to engage. Why are we afraid to talk with someone? If we believe that we have a pretty good system—and I don’t think we should go around the world imposing it on anyone—but if we have some sense of who we are, and believe in who we are, then why wouldn’t we engage? how in the world do we think we can make a better world? How in the world do we think isolating someone is going to somehow bring them around to your way of thinking? I think just the opposite. So, engagement.”
“2 – it seems to me a comprehensive framework of a foreign policy is essential. Because I have never believed you go to war in Iraq, you go to war in Afghanistan, and believe that you can deal with those battlefields, those countries, in microcosms, or narrow channels. These are regional issues. There will not be any peace in the Middle East or in Afghanistan, central Asia, without Iran somewhere…”
Host: “So Iran is connected to Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is connected to Israel and Palestine, and connected to Syria…”
Hagel: “It’s all connected.”
More dangerous words have not been uttered since Wayne Wheeler and Andrew J. Volstead from Minnesota invented the 18th Amendment (the one about not letting the boys coming back from war in Europe have a drink). The notion that the war-loving Afghani tribes are shooting and tooting on account of the Iranians not liking the delayed peace negotiations in Ramallah, which in turn drives the rebel army outside Damascus is the craziest pile of horse manure dumped on the American political scene since the Domino theory.
And it’s no wonder the J Street folks have kept those comments out. In light of the civil war in Syria and the emerging civil war in Egypt, they make the presumptive Secretary of defense sound like Jimmy Carter.
In that vein, just look at what the man said about Syria, back in 2009:
“I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies. For its own self interests… not because they want to do a favor for the U.S. or Israel. If we can convince Damascus to pause and re-consider its positions and support regarding Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, we will have made progress for the entire Middle East, Israel, and the U.S. Syria wants to talk – at the highest levels – and everything is on the table.”
My Lord – is there even one assumption in that pile of fragrant stuff that is still true today? Is this man capable of making even one observation that isn’t a trite cliché and hopelessly divorced from Middle east reality?
Now the speech itself, which terrified me. I’ve enclosed the full video, try to follow here or on the complete text here.
[Start at 5:39] The United States’ support for Israel need not be, nor should it be an either-or proposition that dictates our relationship with our Arab allies and friends. The U.S. has a long and special relationship with Israel, but it must not come at the expense of our Arab relationships. That is a false choice, and not in the interests of Israel or the United States.
This is a much used distortion that plays to the single issue benefits of certain groups. The fact is we all need each other. U.S. interests are served by having strong relationships with both Israelis and Arabs, as is Israel’s interest reflecting on its relationships with Egypt and Jordan.
As long as nations continue to be driven by the lowest common denominator of conflict and instability, they will be incapable of rising above the swamps of conflict to clearly view their long term interests for more than just day to day survival.Rather they must give their people a future worthy the dignity of man.
This divisive strategy attempting to make the U.S. choose between its relationships with Israelis and Arabs perpetuates the current state of instability and mistrust and continues to drive us toward more and deeper conflict. It destroys any possibility for positive political atmospherics that are always critical, always critical in attempting to resolve historic conflicts.
The radicals and extremists will continue to use religion and intolerant cannons of life to recruit desperate, hopeless people. And they will use their twisted extremism to hate and kill and subjugate others to their will.
They world’s great religions do not preach this hatred and violence. Why can’t we sort this out?
A few more minutes of Hagel reciting the liberal line of terrorist recruiters feeding off the bad stuff America and Israel are doing to empower themselves – if only we stopped being so stubborn, they would surely stop recruiting. I just couldn’t sit through transcribing this drivel. Skip through that and a string of cliches about the United States’ war efforts in the Middle East as part of President Obama’s overall efforts to achieve peace, skip up to 9:00.
Here comes the really scary stuff:
There’s an emerging consensus about the peace process in the Arab world, but it is fragile, fragmented, and dependant on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace tract.
In July of this year, Crown Prince of Bahrain wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for Arab-Israeli dialog, and referencing a potentially immense peace dividend for all countries and the prospects for communication and trade between countries and peoples. He said: “When stability pays, conflict becomes too costly. We must do more now to achieve peace.”
The Crown Peace’s op-ed began with a reference to the Arab Peace Initiative, offered by then Crown Prince and now King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, at the Arab League summit in Beirut, in March, 2002. It was significant breakthrough. It was significant because, for the first time ever, all 22 members of the Arab League had come forward with a unanimously agreed-to peace initiative. This after years of the United States telling the Arabs that they must get involved and take responsibility and leadership for helping resolve this conflict.
Well, they did. But the last administration ignored it.
At its core, the Beirut initiative offers to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, enter into a peace agreement with Israel, provide security for all states in the region, and establish normal relations with Israel—in return for Israel withdrawing from all land occupied since 1967, a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, an acceptance of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Pardon the interruption, but in order to understand what this means, you must realize that the conditions set down by the Arabs – at the opening of the supposed negotiations are:
1. Go back to the 1949 armistice line, which will include uprooting close half a million Israelis from Judea and Samaria. 2. Give back all of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, to establish their state capital there. 3. Permit the establishment of a Palestinian state with some sort of contiguous land connection between Gaza and the “West Bank.” 4. Let all the Palestinians who wish to resettle inside Israel proper do so.
In other words, in order for Israel to be accepted by all 22 members of the Arab Leagye, it must first commit suicide. here’s what Hagel has to say about it:
Israel could not have immediately accepted the Arab initiative in its totality. All these issues will require negotiations. But this was an important opening. A very important opportunity. Progress toward an eventual peace is going to be difficult, painful, for both sides. Both sides are going to have to give and compromise. And the bottom line, the bottom line will be: are these compromises worth a just and lasting peace.
This is where Hagel is actually lying, as does anyone who has followed the Oslo process and still expects painful sacrifices from the Palestinians. To the Palestinians – and that’s not Khaled Mashal who openly declares he wants Israel dead, we’re talking Mahnoud Abbas, the peace lover – “painful compromise” means they accept Israel within the 1967 borders. Israel will get nothing more than that from in terms of a concession.
And this is where Hagel delivers the closing line that should alert every friend of Israel in the Senate, if they’re actually listening, rather than operating on pre-decided instructions from their masters:
Only the Israelis and the Arabs can decide that. Neither the U.S., nor any country or institution, can impose peace on them. But what we can do is facilitate a peace process, and act as a sponsor and facilitator of that process. And use our considerable influence to facilitate a just and wise outcome.
Read this line again, slowly:
“And use our considerable influence to facilitate a just and wise outcome.”
That, boys and girls, is what a scary threat sounds like, coming from the biggest power the world has ever seen.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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