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Posts Tagged ‘hagel’

Don’t Look to AIPAC for Help

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Chuck Hagel was just confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense in Obama’s administration. The media having shed plenty of light on his controversial views on Israel, Iran and the Middle-East at large, didn’t stop 58 Senators—which included four Republicans—from confirming him. One of those Republicans was the supposedly pro-Israel Rand Paul of Kentucky.

A close friend of mine—who is a staunchly pro-Israel non-Jew—expressed shock and disappointment upon hearing the news of his vote. But as we’ve learned from the story of Purim (and frankly most Jewish holidays), just when the situation looks bleak, everything is for the best in the long run.

As we’ve come to find out, Chuck Hagel’s views on Israel are not in the norm in the Republican Party. Quotes such as “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” isn’t something you’d hear from an aspiring Secretary of Defense. At least not since Secretary of State James Baker’s “f— the Jews” comment some 25 years ago.

But again, just when the situation looks dire, everything is for the best. The entirety of his quote on the “Jewish lobby”—which maybe was in fact a misnomer on his part and he meant the Israel lobby—was “The political reality is that… the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here…. I’ve always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel.”

You know what? In a way, he’s right. AIPAC, which is by and large a secular organization and the biggest Israel lobbying organization in America, has in fact done less for ‘hasbara’ or Israel advocacy movement and more to foment anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment in America. The only venture they’ve succeeded in is raising capital in the name of Israel. This falsely leads people to believe that the “Jewish lobby” does in fact control American foreign policy, and it plays into the greater idea of Jews secretly controlling every aspect of American lives from cradle to the grave. AIPAC is helping the Protocols of the Elders of Zion come to life, to the tune of $3 billion annually.

And this fund-raising comes at a heavy price. The result being that when America says jump, Israel has to say how high. Therefore, Israel can never take care of business in a real way when it comes to the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah. Moreover, when it comes to Iron Dome, America cashes in on the very conflict which it is at best complicit with and at worst actively foments. In the long run, it’s economically not worth it for America if there’s peace in this part of the world. See: America’s arming of “rebels” in Libya and Syria.

In the case of Israel, any American administration official or bureaucrat with half a brain would by now come to understand that the true path to peace between cousin Isaac and cousin Ishmael is having Israel not give away land, because the Arab nation, when given an inch, they usually tend to demand a yard or more. And America insists on asking Israel to give that inch every single time and Israel gets nothing in return. So either the U.S. administration is daft and still hasn’t fully grasped how things work in the Middle East or they understand it and are deliberately trying to shrink Israel. (Disclaimer #1: One has a choice. One can say I’m making a sweeping generalization based on race or one can open up the history books and see the results for themselves).

For more proof see: The Oslo Accords under Clinton, Gush Katif under George W. Bush (of all people), Jimmy Carter’s book on “Israeli apartheid,” which was the intellectual inspiration for the BDS movement. Reagan suspending a shipment of military aircraft to Israel, and harshly criticizing Israel after the bombing of the Osirak reactor near Baghdad, as well as contemplating sanctions to stop the Israeli siege of Beirut. The list goes on of “bright ideas” America has given Israel and/or has propagated about it, only to result intifadas and rocket attacks.

So when it comes to Rand Paul’s vote, he feels the same way as I do. That the financial (but not moral and social) relationship between Israel and America needs to end. Not immediately but in stages. The result would be Israel handling their business as they see fit. The result would be no Hillary Clinton making 11th hour “cease-fire”—or what in Islam is called a ‘hudna,’ which is a temporary cessation of hostilities for the purpose of re-armament—deals with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is nothing more than a temporarily self-restraining and more sophisticated Egyptian version of Hamas. We witnessed the result just this week with rockets being hurled at Ashkelon so as to provoke Israel into conflict shortly before President Obama’s visit.

Betrayal: Republicans Who Voted for Hagel

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

All of Israel’s enemies are doing the hora. As for all of those conservatives who are shocked, shocked I tell ya, over Rand Paul’s vote for Hagel, are you serious? You expected him to stand against Hagel? Rand and his father are notoriously anti-Israel (anti-Semitic).

GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama voted for Hagel’s Jew-hatred. Shelby’s constituents are not happy with him.

(Recommended blog article: Chuck Hagel — a litmus test for Republican weakness and stupidity).

The Right Scoop had the roll call vote:

FOX NEWS – The Senate approved Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Defense secretaryTuesday, ending a contentious battle that exposed deep divisions over the president’s Pentagon pick.

After Republicans blocked the nomination earlier this month, they ultimately allowed for an up-or-down vote on Tuesday. The margin was historically close, with 58 senators supporting him and 41 opposing in the end.

Though Hagel is himself a former Republican senator, the resistance to his nomination showed an unusual level of distrust among many senators toward the man chosen to lead the Defense Department — at a time when the country is trying to wind down the Afghanistan war, while assessing emerging threats from Iran, Syria and elsewhere in the turbulent Middle East and North Africa.

READ MORE…
Here’s the Roll Call Vote:

YEAs —
58
Baldwin (D-WI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coons (D-DE)
Cowan (D-MA)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Hirono (D-HI)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Paul (R-KY)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —41
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kirk (R-IL)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Portman (R-OH)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

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Hagel Nomination Defeat Is in Everyone’s Interest

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

It seems certain that Chuck Hagel will be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next secretary of defense. But it shouldn’t be. For the Hagel issue is the perfect symbol of the dilemmas faced by America today.

The first problem is that the mass media and the Democratic Party are all to willing to be a doormat for President Barack Obama, even though this stance is against their own interests. Many Democratic senators resent the fact that they are so pressured to vote for Hagel even though it makes them look foolish and might endanger their reelection chances.

Their willingness to vote for Hagel, however, shows the triumph of partisanship and ideology over national interest. Obviously, there are times when those factors will prevail, especially if the question is more marginal. But when a clearly unqualified man who has made a fool of himself in public hearings is going to take a post that involves the very lives of so many, that’s where you should draw the line.

In other words, even if one argues that the president should be given whoever he wants in high posts unless there is a really good reason to deny consent to such a nomination, here is the case where that exception applies.

Second, there is the way the issue is defined. A New York senator and a New York newspaper, for example, wants to narrow the problem into the idea that Hagel may have used one word—Jewish as in Jewish lobby–in an offensive way. That’s supposedly why Hagel isn’t fit for the job.

If that’s true then anyone who opposed Hagel might be considered to represent a selfish, narrow, interest group. Indeed, some of Hagel’s defenders have turned the issue of his being criticized for saying nasty things about Jews having too much power into proof that Jews have too much power.

In defending Hagel’s gaffe, both that senator and that editorial staff have also committed what might be called ideological antisemitism. If Hagel is innocent then those who oppose him are merely too (right-wing) Jewish or pro-Israel or “neo-conservative” (a code-word for “Jewish,” especially in the Middle East). And if they block Hagel then doesn’t that prove Hagel was right?

What makes this view objectively absurd is that there are dozens of reasons to oppose Hagel’s nomination, most of them having nothing to do with Israel.

First and foremost among these is that he has expressed objectively anti-American views, as was shown for example, in his agreeing with an al-Jazeera caller who described the United States as an aggressive bully. Anti-Americanism may be fashionable among the U.S. elite today, but it is not a good characteristic for a secretary of defense. Aside from everything else, if the United States has always been bad for pursing its interests in the past why should this secretary of defense compound the sin by championing U.S. interests today?

Second, it is painfully clear—even to his supporters who would never admit it in public—that Hagel doesn’t understand the issues and is incapable of running a huge bureaucracy. Hagel even admitted his incapability in his own defense, boating that this didn’t matter since he wouldn’t be making any decisions anyway!

Once again, though, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 election advertisement test applies: Who do you want to answer the call at three AM? We have before us at this moment a perfect example. The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where four Americans were murdered, was dropped into the lap of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. How many Americans might die when Hagel is given the responsibility for action?

Third, one could point out that the ultimate choices for Benghazi were with Obama. But that’s also a reason for understanding why Hagel shouldn’t be confirmed. A secretary of defense should not just be a “yes-man.” He should represent an independent point of view and also represent his department’s interests.

If the secretary of defense is only a “yes-man” for the White House that means the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders in the field will be left out of decision-making. With Hagel at the helm, the uniformed military will have no spokesman when the top-level priorities and choices are set.

Open Letter to Sen. Charles Schumer on the Hagel Appointment

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Dear Chuck,

I write to encourage you to review and reconsider your endorsement of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. The new information that has appeared since your meeting with him on Jan. 14 suggests that his weak policies vis-à-vis Iran and his reprehensible views toward Israel run even deeper than we realized at that time.

We now know that he referred to Israel’s self-defense in 2006 as a “sickening slaughter.” That he preposterously stated in 2007 that “The State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.” That he obnoxiously said in 2010 (according to a paraphrase) that Israel was “risking becoming an apartheid state.”

Rep. Eliot Engel has characterized Hagel’s outlook as having “some kind of endemic hostility toward Israel.” I have written that Hagel “is known for only two foreign policy/defense views: being soft on Iran and hostile to Israel.”

Chuck, you and I go back to our many long dinners and debates in the college dining room in the late 1960s, when your sensible moderation first became evident. A hallmark of your career since then has been consistently to show good sense and courage on Middle Eastern issues.

As you noted with pride in an April 2010 interview, your family name “comes from the word shomer, which means guardian” in Hebrew. You mentioned that your ancestors were guardians of the Jewish ghetto in the Ukraine, adding: “I believe HaShem [God], actually, gave me my name, as one of my roles that is very important in the United States Senate is to be a shomer for Israel. I will continue to be that with every bone in my body.”

You expressed having had “genuine concerns” about Hagel prior to your White House meeting with him; now is the moment for you to follow the dictates of your conscience. I hope you will now come out against the Hagel nomination, a shift that will have profound repercussions for the country and secure your reputation as a shomer for U.S.-Israel relations.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner, under the title, “The Hagel Nomination: An Open Letter to Sen. Charles E. Schumer,” February, 19, 2013.

Smelling Chuck Hagel & Other Anti-Semites

Monday, February 18th, 2013

My grandparents emigrated from Russia to the U.S. before the revolution. They were the type that divided things, and people, into Good For The Jews or Bad For The Jews. They were wary people, who understood that a Jew always had to be careful, even in America. They could smell antisemitism, and they believed that a Jew could not count on the authorities, or on his non-Jewish neighbors if the worse happened. I was close to them, closer than to my Americanized parents, and I became this kind of Jew as well.

Most younger American Jews do not display this heightened awareness, this almost paranoid (but not unreasonable) consciousness of their Jewish marginality, as Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street explained to a NY Times reporter several years ago:

The average age of the dozen or so staff members is about 30. Ben-Ami speaks for, and to, this post-Holocaust generation. “They’re all intermarried,” he says. “They’re all doing Buddhist seders.” They are, he adds, baffled by the notion of “Israel as the place you can always count on when they come to get you.” That notion is not baffling to me and certainly wouldn’t have been to my grandparents. My alarm bells went off when the President chose Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. I am not especially worried by officials of our government, even presidents, who are not particularly friendly to Israel. As Hagel himself said, they are American senators, or congressmen, or cabinet members, not Israelis. The trouble is that this guy — like another Obama nominee for an important post, Chas Freeman — is way over on the hostile side.

Hagel’s problem with Israel is so consistent over time and over issues, that it’s hard to believe it is wholly rational. The most recent example is his 2007 statement (which he says he “can’t recall making”) that “the State Department was becoming an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.”

The assertion that the State Department — that bureau which fought tooth and nail to prevent Harry Truman from recognizing the Jewish state, which does not believe that any part of Jerusalem belongs to Israel, and which maintains a U.S. Embassy to ‘Palestine’ in the capital of Israel (which it doesn’t recognize) — is dominated by Israel, is beyond ludicrous. So why did he make it?

This statement is ‘ZOG’ (Zionist Occupation Government) stuff, an expression of one of the central anti-Jewish myths, that of a shadowy Jewish conspiracy pulling the strings that control our government. It fits with Hagel’s use of the phrase ‘Jewish lobby,’ and his suggestion that the lobby “intimidates” U.S. officials.

Hagel’s supporters are pushing this theme to the max. Stephen Walt wrote,

…if the lobby takes Hagel down, it will provide even more evidence of its power, and the extent to which supine support for Israel has become a litmus test for high office in America. [my emphasis] Ah, the powerful lobby! Ask M J Rosenberg:

The onslaught is unprecedented. Never before has virtually the entire organized Jewish community combined to stop a presidential cabinet appointment because it deems the potential nominee insufficiently devoted to Israel. …

The onslaught against Hagel is unique however because the reason for it is not merely that he opposes the rush to war with Iran and favors negotiating an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The reason is because he dared to refer to the existence of the Israel lobby. He said this in 2008 in an interview with former State Department official, Aaron Miller.

“The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” but as he put it, “I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator.”

That quote will likely doom Hagel’s candidacy because, if there is one institution that is considered untouchable, it is the Israel lobby and its power. [my emphasis] Their theme is that “The Lobby” will “punish” Hagel and Obama for their disrespect. The same point is made by Patrick Slattery on (yes) DavidDuke.com:

AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which represent the official command center of organized American Jewry, have come out beating their chests over his public acknowledgement of the existence of the 800-pound gorilla of a “Jewish lobby.” On the other hand, “liberal” Zionists like Thomas Freidman and Peter Beirnart are defending Hagel, perhaps because nothing can draw public attention to the power of an 800-pound gorilla more than the gorilla ripping to pieces a respected public figure in broad daylight. [my emphasis] All this diverts attention from other important questions about Hagel, like “is he competent to run the massive enterprise that is the Defense Department?” and, given his opposition to both economic sanctions and the use of force, “what does putting Hagel is in the chain of command of the U.S. armed forces tell Iran about our resolve to stop them from getting nuclear weapons?” That may be the idea.

Is Hagel Jewish?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

So two Jewish academics, one American and one Israeli, co-author a report with a Palestinian professor, paid for by the US State Department, claiming that Palestinian textbooks don’t really incite hatred against Jews and Israelis, that Israeli books are biased too, and it’s just a question of different ‘narratives’. It turns out (are you surprised?) that it is a bunch of nonsense.

Dangerous nonsense, though, because the issue of ‘incitement’ is critical — that is, if the Palestinians teach their children that

Zionism is “a colonialist political movement founded by the Jews of Europe in the second half of the 19th century… [intent on] displacing the Palestinian people in Palestine from their land.” and far worse, then it calls into question their desire to live peacefully alongside a Jewish state, as well as the advisability of Israeli concessions in order to reach an agreement with them. In all, this is a small skirmish in one of many battles in the larger information war which is a major theater in the conflict between Israel and its neighbors. Despite being nonsense, it is an effective gambit due to the academic credentials of the authors and the ‘scientific’ pretensions of the report, even though the whole enterprise is based on faulty premises (read this for the ugly details). The State Department certainly got full value for its money.

Now I want to switch gears, because it isn’t the question of textbooks and incitement that I really want to talk about (check Palestinian Media Watch for more examples than you wanted to see).

Note that the two non-Arab co-authors happen to be Jewish.

I used to write ‘man-bites-dog’ stories about Jewish anti-Zionism. I would write, “with Jews like these, who needs antisemites?” I spent a lot of time trying to understand their apparently inconsistent behavior, given the importance of the Jewish state to the cultural and physical survival of the Jewish people. I wrote literally tens of articles on the subject of J Street, the phony pro-Israel organization, and about the recently-elected head of the Reform Movement, who was an activist in J Street and the New Israel Fund.

I have stopped being surprised at this. It no longer appears remarkable to me when I notice that the leaders of anti-Zionist groups are Jews, sometimes rabbis. I am beginning to sympathize with whoever it was who said that whenever he or she sees a Jewish name at the bottom of a letter to the editor, there’s no need to read it. I can only shrug when I note the overwhelming Jewish support for the most anti-Israel US administration since 1948. I don’t dislike Max Blumenthal as much as I disliked Yasser Arafat any more.

There are reasons for all of these things, in psychology and politics. I am no longer interested in them. I have always thought that my mission was, above all, to educate my Jewish friends about Zionism and why it is important for Jews to be Zionists. I am no longer sure that this is possible.

No, now there is only one overriding issue for me:

How do we get Chuck Hagel a Bar Mitzvah?

—— Note: No, I don’t really think Chuck Hagel is Jewish. There is no evidence for that, unless you count his over-the-top anti-Zionism.

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US Policy on Israel is Stuck in the 1970s

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

The very first post that I wrote in this blog back in 2006 was about the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group and its non-sequitur assertion of the “linkage theory.” You will recall that the war in Iraq was going badly at the time, with Sunni and Shiite ‘insurgents’ killing large numbers of each other’s people as well as American soldiers. Here’s part of what they said:

Iraq cannot be addressed effectively in isolation from other major regional issues, interests, and unresolved conflicts. To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East—the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism—are inextricably linked. In addition to supporting stability in Iraq, a comprehensive diplomatic offensive—the New Diplomatic Offensive—should address these key regional issues. By doing so, it would help marginalize extremists and terrorists, promote U.S. values and interests, and improve America’s global image…

The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. This was followed by a series of specific recommendations to “solve” the conflict, by forcing Israel to give up all territory it took control of in 1967, including the Golan, Judea and Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem. Of course this didn’t happen, and the bleeding in Iraq was stanched by the “surge,” the temporary deployment of additional troops plus the strategy of buying the support of indigenous Sunni elements in Iraq.

The opportunistic invocation of the linkage theory during the Iraq war crisis was yet another example of its persistence, despite the fact that even before the “Arab Spring” there was no reason to believe that it was true. Today it has been further falsified by events, as Jeffrey Goldberg made clear recently in a discussion of Chuck Hagel, another linkage theory advocate:

Come with me on a quick tour of the greater Middle East. The Syrian civil war? Unrelated to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The slow disintegration of Yemen? Unrelated. Chaos and violence in Libya? Unrelated. Chaos and fundamentalism in Egypt? The creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank would not have stopped the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, nor would it have stopped the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Terrorism in Algeria? Unrelated. The Iranian nuclear program? How would the creation of a Palestinian state have persuaded the Iranian regime to cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons? Someone please explain. Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq? The unrest in Bahrain? Pakistani havens for al-Qaeda affiliates? All unrelated. I’ll add that with regard to Iran, the theory is not only wrong, it is backwards — rather than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict influencing Iran to misbehave, Iran exacerbates the conflict by financing Palestinian terrorists!

As recently as 2010, President Obama professed belief in some form of the linkage theory, and Goldberg correctly asks,

Hagel wants to lead the U.S. Defense Department. I would like to know if he still believes in linkage. More important, I would like to know if Obama is still captive to this same, flawed concept.

The linkage theory was always a good excuse to pressure Israel, because it was an appeal to American interests, not Arab or Palestinian ones. This was especially useful between 1973 and the 1990s when Arabs and Palestinians had a very poor image in the U.S., being associated with astronomical oil prices and terrorism. Since Oslo, it’s become more acceptable to say things like the following (from Obama’s notorious 2009 Cairo speech):

On the other hand [compared to the Holocaust!], it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. Suddenly, it’s all about caring for the Palestinians. But why are the Palestinians in particular so deserving of help compared to other groups around the world, many of whom are much worse off?

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