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April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
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All Eyes On Kerry And Hagel

Secretary of State John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry

The Washington buzz earlier this week was that President Obama had decided on Sen. John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and was close to settling on former Republican senator Chuck Hagel as his new secretary of defense.

Sen. Kerry has been a leading member of the Democratic Party’s foreign policy establishment for many years and since January 2009 has served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During the course of his 26 years in the Senate he has been a reliable and ready vote in favor of legislative and other initiatives promoted by supporters of Israel and is generally considered to be one the strongest friends of Israel in government.

The Jerusalem Post has noted, however, that while he always voted for Israel, he was never viewed as a leader on pro-Israel issues, something that may loom large if he were to head the State Department.

We also recall that in his 2004 campaign for president he spoke of a role for America as “an honest broker” in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. And therein lies another reason for concern.

At the time, we questioned whether true friends really seek arms-length relationships, and indeed that was one of the reasons for our endorsement of George W. Bush. We feel the same sense of concern now that Mr. Kerry seems poised to become the next secretary of state. The last thing we need is the most senior foreign policy adviser to President Obama counseling him against taking Israel’s side – in the interest of being “an honest broker” – in complicated political negotiations with the Arab world. We firmly believe that unless the Palestinians and their allies are made to understand that America will stand with Israel come what may, their demands will never be realistic and peace well nigh impossible.

Sen. Hagel raises many more concerns and they are rather straightforward. He has opposed sanctions against Iran related to its nuclear efforts and has raised the idea of living with a nuclear Iran. He regularly voted against pro-Israel initiatives in the Senate including supporting Israel during the second intifada and calling on the EU to classify Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. He has also pushed for the U.S. to recognize and negotiate with Hamas.

Though as defense secretary Mr. Hegel would not have a secretary of state’s impact on foreign policy, we need only recall the nefarious role played by Caspar Weinberger, who as President Reagan’s secretary of defense was a constant anti-Israel irritant in what was a generally pro-Israel administration.

Should he get the nod as defense secretary, Mr. Hegel will bear close scrutiny by supporters of Israel over the course of the next four years.

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3 Responses to “All Eyes On Kerry And Hagel”

  1. Chuck Hagel's remark about the Jewish lobby's intimidation is racist and condescending. If he had said the same thing about the NAACP, La Raza etc, no one would expect him to be considered.

    Hagel's views on Iran deeply contradict the truthfulness of "all options are on the table."

    I have yet to hear one Democratic Senator questioning this terrible choice.

    What does the New York delegation have to say about appointing him?

  2. Edward Lobel says:

    While I do not know enough "facts" about Hagel, I do know enough that as of now, he cannot be trusted to do the right things on Israel!

    On the other hand, I know a lot about John Kerry.

    Several years ago I had a breakfast with Senator Kerry (OK it was in a small gathering of a local club and while there were about 30 people at the reakfast, I sat right next to the senator and before the "speeches" started, we had a lengthy conversation about many things.

    At one point in the conversation he asked me if I had any idea of when the event was scheduled to end as he had to leave to attend his best friend's son's Bar Mitzvah! What the senator did not know iand what I did know (and what only a handful of people may have known at that time) was his best friend was his brother!

    You see Senator Kerry's grandparents were Jewish and for whatever reason, his parents decided to raise him as a catholic! It was later in life when he and his brother found out about their grandparents that his brother (along with the fact that the lady he was going to marry was Jewish,) would "re-adopt" his families heritage. For whatever reason and there are probably many, the senator decided to remain as a Chatholic.

    Aside from being pro Israel, he would NEVER do anything he would conceive of damaging his relationship with his brother or hurt the honor of his ancesters.

    So when it comes to the foreign policy of the United States as relates to Israel, all Jews should feel very safe that he will do the right thing!

  3. Senator Coryn has said he would oppose Hagel.

    Senators Mcain, Chamblis, Ayotte, Snowe, Rubio, and Boxer have expressed reservations.

    But Senator Schumer has not said one word.

    This is an extremely important issue.

    No one should ever vote for Senator Schumer if he does not express
    himself against Hagel now.

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