Not out of the woods yet with Hagel
Senator Chuck Hagel, rumored to be President Obama’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Defense, is under attack for his views on Israel. Certain Jewish organizations and conservative commentators have voiced concerns about his support for Israel, even coming close to calling him anti-Semitic for his remarks about the “Jewish lobby.”
We are pasting below the entirety of Senator Hagel’s wide-ranging remarks to the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) on December 4, 2008. None of his remarks to us suggested he is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. Far from it.How wrong is the Israel Policy Forum? Consider this.
To be sure, any concerns regarding Hagel’s views should be aired by those in our community. But as they were outlined in his IPF address in 2008, his ideas are not outside the mainstream.
His statement that “The United States cannot impose peace in the Middle East, but I don’t believe any way you come at this, there will be peace in the Middle East without the United States,” is exactly right.
Regarding Iran, he recognized that: “(Iran) support(s) terrorists, they support Hezbollah, they’ve got their tentacles wrapped around every problem in the Middle East that is anti-Israel, anti- the United States. Those are realities. Those are facts.”
His description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the “strategic epicenter” of the Middle East have been subsequently reflected by CENTCOM chief General James Mattis, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former CIA Director General David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who have all similarly identified resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute as critical for advancing regional stability and American interests.
None of this should be considered dangerous for the United States or the State of Israel.
Hagel should be applauded for his service to date, and given a chance to answer the considerable charges that have been leveled at him in a nomination hearing.
Hagel has served his nation as a veteran and a dedicated public servant. As a Senator he fostered strong ties on both sides of the political aisle, and created a reputation as an experienced, honest and independent-minded thinker. These are all qualities that make for a fine candidate to serve as Secretary of Defense.
Of course, much of the outcry against Hagel stems from a passage in Aaron David Miller's book, The Much Too Promised Land, in which Hagel is quoted as saying that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” Though that wording is unfortunate, it is also regrettable that the exuberant manner in which Hagel’s potential nomination is being vilified could be a case in point.
1. “It is my opinion that [the George W. Bush Administration] is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I’ve ever seen personally or ever read about.” (November 2007)
2. “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.” (after meeting with Syrian dictator Hazef al-Asad in Damascus in December 1998)
3. In July 2002, Hagel staked a wrong-headed position in support of Yassir Arafat, who was later isolated by the U.S. Government for supporting violence against Israel during the second Palestinian intifada. In an opinion-editorial in the Washington Post, Hagel wrote that the U.S. was erroneously “making Yassir Arafat the issue,” that Palestinians could not be expected to make democratic reforms as long as “Israeli military occupation and settlement activity” continue, and that “Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace.”
4. In calling upon President Bush to push for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, Hagel said: “This madness must stop…. How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend — the country and people of Lebanon — is going to enhance America’s image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?… Our relationship with Israel is special and historic. But it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice.” Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, he said, was “tearing Lebanon apart.”
Read the whole thing.
Hagel would be a disaster for Israel and a disaster for US National Security.