The Problem Of Hagel

Jewish leaders are in a quandary: 'He could stick it to us.'

Monday, January 7, 2013

Some national Jewish leaders, deeply worried and upset over the nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, are in a quandary about whether or not to publicly speak out against his confirmation.

Mainstream Jewish groups generally don’t contest Presidential appointments and the leaders are not at all certain that their complaints could have an impact on the Senate vote. They also worry that if Hagel is confirmed, he could be less than responsive to their requests.

“He could stick it to us,” one said.

But some feel that as a matter of principle they should voice their reservations anyway.

Several pro-Israel groups have been very vocal in warning against the Hagel appointment on grounds that he is anti-Israel, having criticized the official pro-Israel lobby AIPAC and refused to sign on to some resolutions supportive of the Jewish state.

I think such rhetoric, and focusing the Hagel appointment on Israel, is a mistake, narrowing concerns about his views and making Israel front and center in the dispute. Hagel has shown to be less supportive of Israel than the great majority of Republicans in the Senate, but my real concern is his attitude toward Iran and the fact that it differs greatly from President Obama’s public statements on the issue.

The President has been clear in saying he refuses to accept the containment argument -- that is the notion that it is too late to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities to build arms so we should concentrate on containing them. But that’s something Hagel has indicated he can live with. And while Obama has kept the possibility of a military attack by the U.S. on the table, Hagel is opposed, insisting that a resolution can be reached through negotiations, which he also calls for in dealing with Hamas.

Those close to Obama insist that as president he will make the critical decisions and that he likes and trusts Hagel, who will offer up a fresh approach at the Pentagon. The Israel Policy Forum, a dovish group, has endorsed the appointment.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the mainstream Jewish organizations will choose to oppose Hagel publicly or save their fire, hoping to establish a positive working relationship once he is at the Pentagon.

 

Comments

AJC, Dershowitz and Koch are opposed to his nomination

If Chuck Hagel wins approval for his selection to be secretary of defense, his long held views on Israel that border on anti-semitism will not change. Those who think that if the Jewish community, as well as other supporters of Israel, will be better off by not opposing him are mistaken.
Unless we act now to thwart this appointment, Israel and our allies as well as our military will suffer irreparable damage.
Nelson Marans

But Doocy and Kilmeade on Fox and Friends think Hagel is a great choice?

If Chuck Hagel's position on Iran is so much different from the President's, why is President Obama nominating him? It is not as if we don't know Hagel's position on Iran, or that Iran is not a front burner issue. The logical conclusion is that President Obama and Sen. Hagel have very similar views on Iran, and that the President's public statements were simply about getting votes.

A simple, clear reason to oppose Sen. Hagel, is that his acceptance as Sec. of Defense would send a clear message to Iran that the US will not use military force to stop its nuclear ambitions. That means at worst Iran will only have to game the US and Europe in rounds of ultimately meaningless negotiations over economic sanctions. If the sanctions really bite, Iran can throttle back its plans, but overall President Obama has told Iran that the consequences of its nuclear program will at most be hardship, but not real damage.

Furthermore, as Secretary of Defense, Hagel can shape reality. Remember the absolutely idiotic National Intelligence Estimate from several years ago that said Iran had abandoned its quest for nuclear weapons. Well the Sec. of Defense will be tasked with determining our military options regarding Iran. Would it be very surprising if a Sec. of Defense who is opposed to action against Iran, serving a like minded president, issues reports saying we have no viable military options. If there is any doubt about what President Obama's real views on Iran are, look not only at the Hagel nomination, but to the even more alarming nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA.

We voted for Obama and he threw us under the bus!

In 1981, AIPAC suffered a stinging defeat when the Senate, despite AIPAC's unprecedented effort at blocking it, approved an arms package for Saudi Arabia that included the sale of highly advanced AWACS early warning planes. Some in the Jewish community counseled against the lobbying effort believing it would both alienate the newly elected president and set back future AIPAC lobbying efforts should their anti-AWACS lobbying fail. The lobbying effort did indeed fail when the Senate marginally approved the arms deal. But the dire predictions of those who counseled against the lobbying effort proved inaccurate as the president continued to maintain his pro-Israel tilt throughout his remaining years in office. Likewise, AIPAC bounced back from the defeat and has proved to be an even more potent lobbying organization in the decades following 1981. Perhaps this lesson from thirty years ago should be considered in formulating a response to the nomination of Chuck Hagel.

Nothing too complicated about this selection. This is Barack Obama telling the 70% of Jews who voted for him exactly what he thinks of them, now that he no longer needs their vote. More to come. Fools.

Hagel is far better informed and fair about Israel than most and his opinions are sound. Ditto Iran. A military attack against it would be catastrophic. He is not anti-semitic. He should be supported wholeheartedly.

If Chuck Hagel had made some of his comments against African, Asian, or Hispanic-Americans he would have never been nominated by any President. However it seems that it is ok to slander Jewish-Americans whenever and wherever. For your own self-dignity and pride Jewish Americans should oppose Hagel's nomination.

On the pages of most Israeli Internet news sites thousands of comments are posted every week accusing anyone who does not agree with the Netanyahu government of being an anti semite and any Jew who voted for Obama and supports a two State solution is called a self hater and enemy of the Jewish people. This right wing drumhead has permeated itself into Israel with former heads of the Shin Bet, Mossad, former generals in the IDF, and former and current members of the Knesset called traitors and the enemy because they do not agree with Netanyahu. Former Prime Minister Rabin has been called a traitor to his people as has former Foreign Minister Zippi Livni, and former Defense Minister Barak who is the most decorated soldier in Israel's history. When Moshe Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, publicly stated his opposition to bombing Iran his loyalty to Israel was questioned and even he was called a traitor by thousands of people. Justices on Israel's Supreme Court have been called traitors by the far right and religious. This is total madness and we American Jews must not tolerate it and we must speak out against it because it will wind up destroying Israel in the end.

Israel's supporters love to claim to the world that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. If that is so why do these same people engage in character assassination, debasement, and demeaning of anyone who dares to criticize the policies of the Netanyahu government? Why is it wrong for former and current generals in Israel's military and members of Israel's security agencies to criticize bombing Iran? Why is it wrong for American Jews and many Israeli citizens to support a two State solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict?

When Bush and Cheney were in office anyone who questioned parts of the Patriot Act because they might not be constitutional was called a traitor and supporter of Bin Ladin, which was a disgusting, horrible slur. The same right wing fanaticism is on display in Israel. Either you agree 100% with the current Israeli government or else you are an anti semite or, if you are a Jew, a self hating Jew. No sane person can accept this but yet it is getting worse by the day. More and more people are being silenced and more and more people are being slurred and have their reputations destroyed with accusations of anti semitism.

Any country that tries to silence its critics is not a democracy. What once made Israel so special was the fact that spirited debate and disagreements were a vital part of its democracy. Attacking someone's Jewishness, their character, and trying to destroy them is not what the founders of Israel ever envisioned. Impugning peoples motives, their integrity, and branding them an anti semite simply because they oppose policies of the current Israeli government is repulsive and must be resisted by all those who truly love Israel.

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