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Jewish Response to Hagel Nomination Tepid to Furious

The best most pro-Israel leaders were willing to do was downplay the policy-making role of the secretary of defense.

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Sen. Chuck Hagel in Iraq.

Sen. Chuck Hagel in Iraq.
Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Casey Jones



It isn’t only the pro-Israel gallery that is troubled by Hagel’s nomination.  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) raised concerns about Hagel’s opposition to sanctions against Cuba, and some, such as Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), are alarmed by a potential secretary of defense who has referred to the U.S. miliary as “bloated” and in need of being ‘pared down.’

What’s more, many in the Republican party are simply furious by what they clearly see as Hagel’s traitorous ways.  As a Washington Post story put it

“He basically doesn’t have a single Senate Republican friend who served with him,” said one senior GOP Senate aide granted anonymity to speak candidly. The source added that Hagel had not only given cover to Democrats on a number of high-profile issues but that he had also badly alienated his colleagues with his strong endorsement of former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey in the 2012 Nebraska Senate race.

And then there are problems with those in the President’s own party.  Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is a critical political player to watch.  Schumer is considered to be staunchly pro-Israel and he is a Democrat; his constituency is unlikely to welcome a vote in favor of someone about whom there is so much negative information regarding Israel. In a recent appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, Schumer declined to endorse Hagel.

All eyes have been on Schumer and the press release he issued on the day of the nomination could not have been very reassuring to Hagel.  Rather than endorse the nomination, Schumer limply stated he “looks forward to fully studying his [Hagel’s] record and exploring his positions” on the issues.  Schumer was only able to muster enthusiasm for Hagel’s “right to nothing less than a full and fair process in the Senate.”

And what a process that portends to be.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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