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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

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.

The Opposition (or Lack thereof) to Hagel

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Three thoughts as the U.S. Senate gears up to consider on Jan. 31 the nomination of Chuck Hagel for the position of secretary of defense:

(1) It’s more than a bit curious that Barack Obama should nominate a politician of no distinction, with no significant bills to his name, no administrative accomplishments, and no known ideas, to the hugely important post of secretary of defense. It’s even more curious that Hagel is known for only two foreign policy/defense views: being soft on Iran and hostile to Israel. This certainly sends a strong signal to Israel.

(2) It’s been dismaying to note that, after an initial expression of skepticism, American Jewish institutions have taken a pass on the Hagel nomination. It would appear that, for them, access trumps other considerations.

(3) In contrast, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), released a statement expressing opposition to Hagel on account of his “unacceptable blindness to the greatest security threat of our day,” namely Iran and Hezbollah. In addition, CUFI announced that at least 400 Christian leaders will travel to Capitol Hill this week to lobby representatives of all 100 senators.

Comment: Odd that CUFI is out there swinging and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is silent.

Visit DanielPipes.com.

Jew-Hatred in Egypt and Britain

Monday, January 28th, 2013

There’s lots of excitement in the Jew-hatred department lately. First, of course, is the not so stunning revelation that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi thinks that Jews are “bloodsuckers, warmongers, the descendents of apes and pigs” and that Muslims should “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.

Morsi iced the cake in a recent meeting with several members of the U.S. Senate:

“He was attempting to explain himself … then he said, ‘Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don’t view me favorably,’” [Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del] said.

The Cable asked Coons if Morsy specifically named the Jews as the forces that control the American media. Coons said all the senators believed the implication was obvious.

“He did not say [the Jews], but I watched as the other senators physically recoiled, as did I,” he said. “I thought it was impossible to draw any other conclusion.”

“The meeting then took a very sharply negative turn for some time. It really threatened to cause the entire meeting to come apart so that we could not continue,” Coons said.

Multiple senators impressed upon Morsy that if he was saying the criticisms of his comments were due to the Jews in the media, that statement was potentially even more offensive than his original comments from 2010.

“[Morsi] did not say the Jewish community was making a big deal of this, but he said something [to the effect] that the only conclusion you could read was that he was implying it,” Coons said. “The conversation got so heated that eventually Senator McCain said to the group, ‘OK, we’ve pressed him as hard as we can while being in the boundaries of diplomacy,’” Coons said. “We then went on to discuss a whole range of other topics.”

Although it took the NY Times several weeks after the story broke to notice it, there is nothing surprising about this attitude, as a Muslim Brother, as Andrew McCarthy explains:

Contrary to the fairy tale weaved by apologists for Islamists on both sides of America’s political aisle, Jew hatred is not a pathogen insidiously injected into Islam by the Nazis (with whom Middle Eastern Muslims enthusiastically aligned). Nor did the ummah come by it through exposure to other strains of anti-Semitism that blight the history of Christendom. Jew hatred is ingrained in Islamic doctrine. Consequently, despite the efforts of enlightened Muslim reformers, Jew hatred is — and will remain — a pillar of Islamist ideology.

You may recall hearing this little ditty from the Hamas charter — often echoed by ministers of the Palestinian Authority and in the preachments of Brotherhood jurist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, on whose every word millions hang weekly on al-Jazeera (or is it al-Gore?):

The Day of Resurrection will not arrive until the Muslims make war against the Jews and kill them, and until a Jew hiding behind a rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: “Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!”

Again, these are not sentiments dreamt up by “violent extremists” waging a modern, purely political “resistance” against oppressive “Zionists.” The prophet’s admonition that Muslims will be spared the hellfire by killing Jews is repeated in numerous authoritative hadiths (see, e.g., Sahih MuslimBook 41, No. 6985; Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, No. 791).

Hadiths, it is worth emphasizing, are the recorded actions and instructions of Mohammed, who is taken by Muslims to be the “perfect example” they are to emulate. And in case you suppose, after years of listening to Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, that the prophet must ultimately have come around on the Jews, you might want to rethink that one. Another hadith, relating Mohammed’s dying words, recounts his final plea: “May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, No. 427.)

This incident is interesting as a litmus test for our officials and politicians: will they continue to pretend that Brotherhood and Morsi are ‘moderate’ and worthy of our support and ignore the evidence that they are a bunch of racist, atavistic, megalomaniacs, and Jew- and Christian-haters? So far, the Obama Administration hasn’t done so well, rewarding Morsi with a gift of completely unneeded (except to attack Israel) F-16s and Abrams tanks.

Well, after all, Morsi is Egyptian (even if he does have a Ph.D from USC). What do you expect, that he should have the same enlightened consciousness as a Westerner? Like, for example, British MP David Ward, who compared Israeli “atrocities [inflicted] on the Palestinians” with the Holocaust (never mind that there were no such “atrocities”).

And, for another example, cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, whose cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain:

sunday times cartoon

Hmmm, nothing anti-Jewish here, just “criticism of Israel,” right? In case you really don’t get it, note the exaggeratedly ‘Jewish’ physiognomy of the caricature of Netanyahu, as well as his posture and expression, his claw-like fingers, the implication of murderous malice. And then add the bloody ‘mortar’, and you see that this is a classic expression of Jew hatred.

As politics, it doesn’t make sense. Jonathan S. Tobin writes,

In the face of slanders such as this cartoon about Netanyahu, the facts are almost beside the point. The cartoon will be defended as fair comment about Israel’s security fence that the Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders depict as a war crime. That this strictly defensive measure was made necessary by the Palestinians’ campaign of suicide bombings that cost the lives of a thousand Jews in the last decade goes unmentioned.

The willingness of Israel-bashers to appropriate the Holocaust to promote a new generation of anti-Semitic imagery is rooted in a worldview in which the actions of the Palestinians, or their consistent refusal to make peace are irrelevant. If even a fence to keep out suicide bombers can be seen as criminal then it is obvious that no terrorist outrage or act of hateful incitement (such as the Egyptian president’s belief that Israelis are the “descendants of apes and pigs”) is worthy of censure so long as Israelis are standing up for themselves and refusing to be slaughtered as the Jews of Europe were 70 years ago.

In order for it to be considered a defensible point of view about the Middle East, you’d have to believe the artist and the editors who condoned its publication know nothing of why Israel built a security fence or that the terrorist campaign that it was built to stop was preceded by repeated Israeli offers of a Palestinian state that were refused and answered with war.

As Tobin says, where Israel, Jews or ‘Zionists’ are concerned, the facts are beside the point.

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A Tale of Two Chucks

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

With the support of Democratic N.Y. Senator Charles Schumer, Chuck Hagel is now almost certain to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

Israeli and pro-Israel sources in the U.S. have been very critical of the nomination (here are some of their objections). As a Senator, Hagel consistently voted against resolutions supporting Israel and condemning antisemitism. He opposed sanctions on Iran, called for negotiations with Hamas and did not support branding Hizballah as a terrorist organization. He has severely criticized Israel whenever (as in 2002, 2006 and 2008-9) it was forced to take military action against terrorists.

Hagel has consistently held to the (absurd) ‘linkage theory’, the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core problem of the Middle East, and needs to be ‘solved’ — that is, Israel must withdraw from all territories conquered in 1967 and a Palestinian state created — before other issues (like Iranian nuclearization and the spread of radical Islam?) can be dealt with (see also here as well as here).

As opposed to Hagel, Chuck Schumer has been one of the most pro-Israel members of the Senate. In 2010 he sharply criticized President Obama’s policy towards Israel:

“This has to stop,” he said of the administration’s policy of publicly pressuring Israel to end construction in Jerusalem.

“I told the President, I told Rahm Emanuel and others in the administration that I thought the policy they took to try to bring about negotiations is counter-productive, because when you give the Palestinians hope that the United States will do its negotiating for them, they are not going to sit down and talk,” Schumer told Segal. “Palestinians don’t really believe in a state of Israel. They, unlike a majority of Israelis, who have come to the conclusion that they can live with a two-state solution to be determined by the parties, the majority of Palestinians are still very reluctant, and they need to be pushed to get there.

“If the U.S. says certain things and takes certain stands the Palestinians say, ‘Why should we negotiate?’” Schumer said.

Schumer is critical to Hagel’s confirmation. Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake explain:

What seems abundantly clear is that if Schumer could make his decision on Hagel in a political vacuum, he would probably vote no. But he can’t. Schumer is widely regarded as the next leader of Senate Democrats and, as such, his opinion matters a great deal. If Schumer signaled that he would vote no, it would give cover for other Democrats to follow suit — a domino effect that almost certainly would destroy Hagel’s chances.

Schumer, of course, knows that. And he doesn’t want to own the defeat of (and blame for) a Cabinet nominee put forward at the cusp of Obama’s second term. So, if personally Schumer has reason to oppose Hagel, politically he has every reason to support him.

Schumer, being one of the smartest strategists in the Senate, understands that he likely holds Hagel’s fate in his hands. Given those stakes, our (educated) guess is that if Hagel is apologetic about some of his past statements during his meeting with Schumer, the New York Democrat will find a way to say yes.

Well, Cillizza and Blake nailed it. Schumer talked to the President and met with Hagel. And in a truly remarkable statement in which he credits Hagel with changing his mind on every Israel-related issue, endorsed him:

When Senator Hagel’s name first surfaced as a potential nominee for Secretary of Defense, I had genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran. Once the President made his choice, however, I agreed to keep these reservations private until I had the opportunity to discuss them fully with Senator Hagel in person.

In a meeting Monday, Senator Hagel spent approximately 90 minutes addressing my concerns one by one. It was a very constructive session. Senator Hagel could not have been more forthcoming and sincere.

President’s Nomination of Hagel May Encourage Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense risks increasing the likelihood that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. It poses that risk because Hagel is well known for his opposition both to sanctions against Iran and to employing the military option if necessary.

These views are inconsistent with the very different views expressed by President Obama. The President has emphasized on numerous occasions that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and will use military force if necessary to prevent that “game changer.”

The nomination of Hagel thus sends a mixed message to the mullahs in Tehran, who will likely interpret it as a change from a red light to a yellow or green one when it comes to their desire to develop nuclear weapons. Sending a mixed message at this point can increase the chances that Iran will miscalculate and act in a foolhardy manner thus requiring the actual use of the military option—an eventuality that nobody wants.

The goal of America’s policy toward Iran has always been to frighten the mullahs into believing President Obama’s threat to use military force if sanctions fail. “I don’t bluff,” President Obama has famously and publicly stated. It is imperative that the Iranian leadership believe this. If they do, they may well decide that the sanctions they are currently undergoing are too painful to endure, if the end result is that they will never be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. If they don’t believe President Obama’s threat, then the sanctions alone will not dissuade them from pursuing their nuclear goal. The nomination of Senator Hagel will strengthen the hand of those within the Iranian leadership who think that President Obama is bluffing.

It is also important that the Israeli leadership believes that President Obama really has Israel’s back when it comes to preventing Iran from endangering the Jewish state by obtaining nuclear weapons. Any loss of trust in this regard may result in an Israeli decision to take unilateral military action to protect its citizens against nuclear attacks.

This is the wrong time to send mixed messages by nominating a man who has, at best, a mixed record with regard to sanctions and the military option against Iran and with regard to having Israel’s back.

Senator Hagel will have an opportunity to clarify, and hopefully to change, his previous statements with regard to these issues. He should be asked probing questions about sanctions, about the military option and about Israel’s security. In his answers he must persuade the Iranian leadership that there is no distance between his current views and those of the President who has nominated him. The President must also persuade the Iranian leadership that his nomination of Hagel does not constitute any backing down from his commitment to use military force, if sanctions don’t work.

Independence may be a virtue for a senator, but it is a vice when it presents conflicting messages at a time when it is imperative that the Iranian leadership understand that the Obama Administration, indeed the United States as a whole, speaks with one voice when it says that Iran will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, even if that requires the use of military force if all other options fail.

Normally a president, especially a president reelected to a second term with a substantial majority, should be entitled to pick his own Secretary of Defense. But when the President’s decision risks sending a mixed message that could increase the chances of having to employ the military option against Iran, the Senate has an especially important role to play. The burden is now on Senator Hagel to persuade the Senate, the American people, and the leaders of Iran that he is fully supportive of the President’s commitment not to contain a nuclear armed Iran, but to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring, even if that requires the use of military force to achieve that commendable goal.

Nor is this a liberal-conservative or Democratic-Republican issue. Reportedly, the Hagel nomination has been very controversial within the White House itself, with some of President Obama’s closest advisers being critical of it. Many Democrats, both elected officials and rank and file voters, are deeply concerned about the wisdom of the President’s nomination of Senator Hagel.

A Bad Pick for Secretary of Defense

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

He’s going to be confirmed. Sadly. Chuck Hagel who was nominated by the President to serve as his Secretary of Defense will eventually be confirmed by Congress for the job. This could in theory spell disaster for the State of Israel.
If you are Jewish or a supporter of Israel – unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere you have probably heard by now that Hagel cannot under any reasonable interpretation of his past statements be considered a friend of the Jewish people. The most troubling of those statements is the following (from The Telegraph):

“[T]he Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” and “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.”

I am absolutely convinced that during Congressional hearings he will explain these comments away. He will say that “some of his best friends are Jewish” or some such “reassuring” comment to show that he is not an anti Semite. He will explain that he has no animosity at all toward the Jewish people and was merely expressing the truth about a very powerful lobby… and that he might have used the same language about the gun lobby.

Why did he use the phrase “Jewish Lobby” instead of “Israeli Lobby”? Well… that was just a slip of the tongue. The Israeli Lobby is comprised of Jews. It’s an easy mistake to make. He perhaps might point to “ distinguished” American Jews like Noam Chomsky or Tony Kushner who have been very critical of Israel. He may point to Jewish groups like J-Street who defend him – touting his pro Israel voting record. A record that is selectively cited. A fuller record shows that this support is questionable.

He will defend his beliefs with respect to Israel dealing directly with Hamas and the US negotiating directly with Iran as reasonable. And the truth is that these positions are not necessarily anti-Semitic. They are just radical. And in my view very naïve if not down right stupid. Especially since both of those positions are in diametric opposition to US foreign policy. A policy signed onto by the President himself. And for good reason. But I digress.

Because of answers like these and the apology he gave with respect to his insulting comments about homosexuals, he will be confirmed. Which to me – is very disappointing.

It bothers me that a high ranking official in the government – perhaps the 2nd most important position in the cabinet after Secretary of State is being given to a latent anti Semite.

That’s right. I think he is an anti Semite. Even if he doesn’t think he is. There is no way anyone who uses the term Jewish Lobby in the pejorative way he did is not in some way anti Semitic. He may not want to ship all Jews in America into death camps. In fact I would be willing to bet he would be willing to fight a war over such a notion. But that does not mean he doesn’t have a softer but still bigoted view of us.

From that kind of statement it can be seen that he thinks “the Jews” have too much power in the US. That’s what a phrase like “Jewish Lobby” has come to mean. It is a favorite phrase of every fringe group in the world who hates Jews. Like the Neo-Nazis or the KKK. It suggests images of a “Zionist conspiracy” and a “Zionist occupied government.” It hints at the suggestion that the Jews are running the country… and that he – Hagel – stands alone as a bulwark against the Jewish Lobby as an “American” senator. Not an “Israeli” senator. This kind of talk makes him hero to those fringe groups.

It is also a fact that the Israeli Lobby is not comprised of just Jews. Evangelical Christians are as much supporters of Israel as Jews are. More in fact. These Christian Zionists are more pro Israel Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is.

Jewish Lobby indeed! This was not a mere slip of the tongue. This was his true thinking being exposed in an unguarded moment of candor.

It isn’t only me who feels that Hagel’s comments are troubling. It isn’t even only Jewish interest groups like the ADL that thinks so. It is also the view of many of America’s most distinguished senators that think so. On both sides of the political aisle. Like Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chuck Shummer. And they are not even Christian Zionists. Are they part of the Jewish Lobby too? As Senator Graham said:

Mr Hagel “would be the most antagonistic secretary of defence towards the state of Israel in our nation’s history.”

I am disappointed in the President. No… I still believe that he is in not in any way an anti-Semite. I think he has chosen Hagel for his Defense Secretary simply because he likes the guy. He worked with him when they were together in the Senate and they became friends. They both opposed the Iraq war, the key issue of the day then. He sees Hagel as a principled patriot. A man who served his country heroically as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam earning two purple hearts. He likes the idea of having a Republican on his team… making it more bi-partisan. At least in name.

President Obama is no anti-Semite. He has proven that to me in many different ways. In fact he will probably choose an observant Jew, Jack Lew, for the position of Secretary of the Treasury, perhaps the 3rd most important position in the cabinet. One might even argue that in the current economic climate – it is the most important cabinet position. And then there is the unprecedented US financial and military aid to Israel… and the unprecedented intelligence cooperation between the two countries.

Anyone who suggests that Obama is an anti Semite is just blinded by pure hatred for the man in my opinion. It is demonstrably untrue. I should add that anyone who suggests that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright had anything to do with Obama’s policies on Israel or his choices for who will serve in his cabinet is truly living in a fantasy world.

This makes it all the more perplexing as to why he would choose Hagel for the job. Even if he likes him personally. Why would he want to antagonize American Jews with such a pick? Why would he choose to antagonize Congress – many members have already said that they are troubled by this man and will not have an easy time voting to confirm him? Why spend political capital on such a controversial pick when he needs allies in the coming battle over the budget? It’s not like it was smooth sailing in that department recently.

Pundits are saying that he is sticking with Hagel because he had to back down with Susan Rice as his choice for Secretary of State. He doesn’t want to back down again and show weakness.

What a mess. I don’t like Hagel. I think he has animosity towards Israel and I firmly believe that he is no friend of the Jewish people.

I can just hear it now. I fear that if Israel ever faces existential danger such as that threatened by Iran, Hagel might just say that he is the Secretary of Defense of the US… and not the Defense Minster of Israel. He would argue that he has seen the horrors of war and does not want to spill one drop of American blood in yet another foreign war… and while he is sympathetic to Israel’s plight, bottom line is that Israel is not our concern.

It’s too bad the President has chosen this man for this job. As I said, he will probably be confirmed. All he needs is a simple majority of congress. He’ll probably get it. (Although I still hope he doesn’t)

I wish he had chosen Susan Rice or even Colin Powell. Compared to Hagel they are a Zionists.

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Jewifying the Opposition

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The president is going to nominate Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.

Over the last few weeks, just like when the plan was to appoint Arabist Chas Freeman to a sensitive intelligence post, the strategy for the appointment has been to leak the planned appointment, then respond to opposition by ‘Israelifying’ the objections, and ‘Jewifying’ the opponents.

In other words, administration surrogates are doing their best to make the public think that objections to Hagel are all related to his anti-Israel politics (don’t just ask me — ask Iranian Press TV), and that opponents to his nomination are doing the bidding of the ‘Jewish Lobby’ (as Hagel himself called it).

Freeman’s Saudi and Chinese connections did him in. He wasn’t a member of the Senate who could expect to receive many votes out of collegial courtesy. The administration saw the handwriting on the wall and didn’t push it.

But this time the calculations are that Hagel can make it. This is despite the fact that many Senators will vote against him because his positions on issues of national security and foreign policy are far to the left of the mainstream for that body. What can you say about someone who opposed economic sanctions on Iran and a resolution calling Hizballah a “terrorist organization,” and suggested that the US president negotiate with Hamas?

It’s not as though there aren’t other good candidates, including some who are much more experienced in the details of running the complicated defense establishment, such as the highly competent Michelle Flournoy.

Unfortunately, the administration has succeeded in making the issue of Hagel all about Israel and Jews, rather than about a potential Secretary of Defense with little practical experience who seems to think that a nuclear Iran is acceptable. One wonders if the president himself views it this way, and sees the nomination as a way to punish and humiliate Israel (and perhaps the “Jewish Lobby”).

That would be really, really stupid, a classic case of allowing the anti-Israeli tail to wag the dog of real American interests.

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