Now that the election is over, Barack Obama no longer has to appeal to supporters of Israel or haters of terrorism. Progressive Jews no longer have to lie—calling him a great president for Israel. As he told Russian president Medvedev after the election, he will have more flexibility.
According to sources in Washington, President Obama’s first demonstration of that flexibility will be to appoint former Senator Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense.
“Bloomberg News reported Thursday that President Barack Obama spoke to Hagel about the position on December 4.
Hagel, who served two terms in the United States Senate representing his home state of Nebraska, has been a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board as well as a member of the faculty of Georgetown University since leaving Capitol Hill in 2009.”
My sources tell me he has already been vetted by the White House Staff.
Why should supporters of Israel be worried about Hagel?
Consider that, as a Senator, Hagel voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, refused to call on the E.U. to designate Hezbollah a terrorist group, and consistently voted against sanctions on Iran for their illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. And bragged about not being beholden to the “Jewish Lobby.”
Josh Block, head of the Israel Project, says, “It is a matter of fact that [Hegal’s] record on these issues puts him well outside the mainstream Democratic and Republican consensus.”
Don’t take my word for it; in an attempt to be bi-partisan, I posted below a summary of what the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) warned about Sen. Hagel’s lousy record on Israel in 2007. (They took the page down when Obama began to express interest in Hagel for his administration, but I saved a copy). Below are some of the details:
•In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
•In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.
•In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yasser Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.
•In December 2005, Hagel was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.
•In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran’s nuclear program at the G-8 summit.
In 2008, Hagel blocked an Iran sanctions bill that Senate Democrats supported. That same year, he gave a speech calling for the opening of a U.S. diplomatic post in Tehran. As early as 2001, Hagel said that sanctions on Iran and Libya were ineffective. He was one of only two senators that year to vote against renewal of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, the other being the soon to be former senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that everyone hates Hagel’s record on Israel. The same NJDC article did cite one group that supported Hagel’s Middle East efforts--CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
According to the FBI, CAIR was formed by the Muslim Brotherhood and has ties to Hamas. CAIR is a big fan of Hagel:
“Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel …” [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06].
Iran’s state-owned Press TV seemed happy when they wrote that Hagel was Obama’s number one choice for defense:
Some in the Israeli lobby have reportedly reacted with alarm to reports of Hagel’s nomination, as he is known as an outspoken critic of the Zionist lobby in Washington.
Then there was that nice little speech he made during the Senate debate about the surge where he seemed to justify terrorism by the Palestinians “who have been chained down.”
Senator Hagel often appears before Arab-American groups to air his views regarding the Middle East. Among the gems of wisdom: support for Israel shouldn’t be automatic.
He has also joined a chorus of people surrounding Barack Obama who use the anti-Semitic meme about the so-called Jewish Lobby.
Says Hagel: “The political reality is that... the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” There are many millions of Americans who are not Jewish, who support the American-Israel relationship. Hagel pushes the anti-Semitic meme that Jews control American foreign policy (if they did--they would do a better job than this administration).
Supporters of Syrian President Assad will be happy to know that Hagel has always been a big supporter of the despot and his father (also a despot). After meeting with daddy Assad in 1998, Hagel said, “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.”
In 2008, Hagel co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed with prospective secretary of state nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), entitled, “It’s time to talk to Syria.”
“Syria’s leaders have always made cold calculations in the name of self-preservation, and history shows that intensive diplomacy can pay off,” Hagel and Kerry wrote.
Ira Forman, who was in charge of the Obama reelection campaign’s outreach to Jewish voters, said in 2009, after Hagel was named co-chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, that he would have opposed Hagel’s nomination for a more substantive position. Let’s see if he follows through should (as it seems) Hagel become Obama’s pick to run the Defense Department.
Will the President pick Hagel despite his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic positions? Anti-Israel propagandists are thrilled. Stephen Walt, who along with John Mearsheimer, wrote the Anti-Semitic book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” writes that if President Obama nominates Hagel, it will be “a smart move.” Because, “unlike almost all of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, he hasn’t been a complete doormat for the Israel lobby.” Indeed, says Walt, a Hagel pick would “pay back Benjamin Netanyahu for all the ‘cooperation’ Obama received from him during the first term.”
As Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel would play a key role in working with his Israeli counterparts when formulating strategies that would promote our mutual interests in the region. The Israeli and American defense industries and departments have a long record of working closely together-an alliance that has been mutually beneficial and that has proven crucial in giving Israel the tools she has needed to defend herself from a wide range of adversaries boasting of her coming destruction, and the U.S. the benefits of Israel’s years of counter-terrorism experience.
The Secretary of Defense is a key player in our fight against terrorism. Yet Hagel does not believe Hezbollah is a terrorist group, thinks we should be talking to Hamas and believes Iran isn’t a threat. This man cannot be the best choice for America.
Jeff Dunetz is the Editor/Publisher of the political blog “The Lid” (www.jeffdunetz.com). Jeff contributes to some of the largest political sites on the internet including American Thinker, Big Government, Big Journalism, NewsReal and Pajama’s Media.