ZOA To President Obama: Rescind Appointment Of Anti-Israel, Anti-Iran Sanctions Fmr. Sen. Hagel To Intelligence Panel
October 29, 2009

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon President Barack Obama to rescind his appointment of retired anti-Israel, anti-Iran sanctions Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Hagel, has who will co-chair the Board, has a long and troubling record of hostility to Israel which has been criticized by both the Democratic and Republican Jewish coalitions.


In fact, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) posted in March 2007, when Sen. Hagel was seeking the Republican presidential nomination, a detailed list of then-Senator Hagel’s record on Israel that reads as follows:


“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 Yassir 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” (‘Indecisive Senator Hagel has Questionable Israel Record,’ March 12, 2007, National Jewish Democratic Council).


Additionally, Sen. Hagel wrote in a 2002 Washington Post op-ed that he opposed then-President George W. Bush’s refusal to meet arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat saying that “we cannot hold the Middle East peace process hostage by making Yasser Arafat the issue … Palestinian reformers cannot promote a democratic agenda for change while both the Israeli military occupation and settlement activity continue … Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace” (‘We Shouldn’t Make Arafat the Issue,’ Washington Post, July 19, 2002).


Hagel has stated (in an interview quoted in Aaron David Miller’s Much Too Promised Land) that “The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” thereby implying that Americans who express concern for Israel and see the U.S.-Israeli relationship as a cornerstone of American security have dual loyalties. When once confronted with the charge that he is insufficiently supportive of Israel, Hagel replied, “Let me clear something up here if there’s any doubt in your mind. I’m a United States Senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is, I take an oath of office to the constitution of the United States. Not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel” (Quoted in ‘RJC: Hagel’s record makes intelligence panel appointment troubling,’ October 28, 2009, Republican Jewish Coalition).
In October 2008, Hagel prevented action on a Senate bill – sponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama – proposing economic sanctions against Iran. Hagel has argued that, “Whether we like it or not, there will be no peace or stability in the Middle East without Iran’s participation” (Connie Bruck, ‘The Odd Man Out,’ New Yorker Magazine, November 3, 2008)


John J. Miller, National Review’s National Political Reporter, wrote the following about Hagel in 2002:


·           “There’s nothing Hagel likes less than talking about right and wrong in the context of foreign policy. Pro-Israeli groups view him almost uniformly as a problem. ‘He doesn’t always cast bad votes, but he always says the wrong thing,’ comments an Israel supporter who watches Congress. An April speech is a case in point. ‘We will need a wider lens to grasp the complex nature and consequences of terrorism,’ said Hagel. He went on to cite a few examples of terrorism: FARC in Colombia, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, and the Palestinian suicide bombers. Then he continued, ‘Arabs and Palestinians view the civilian casualties resulting from Israeli military occupation as terrorism.’ He didn’t exactly say he shares this view — but he also failed to reject it” (John J. Miller, ‘Sen. Skeptic (R., France),’ National Review, August 17, 2002).



ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is clear from Chuck Hagel’s record in the Senate that we have here an unusually hostile figure when it comes to Israel, the U.S.-Israeli relationship and one who shows little interest in dealing with the threat posed by Iran to the U.S., Israel and the world by their seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. That such a figure will have a key role to play on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board is of grave concern. This is especially so when one considers that the Intelligence Advisory Board exists solely for the purpose of providing the President with an independent source of advice on intelligence matters and which reports directly to him.


“We call upon President Obama to rescind this appointment and we call upon other pro-American, American Jewish groups and pro-Israel groups to do the same. In particular, we call upon the National Jewish Democratic Council, which scrupulously noted then-Senator Hagel’s shortcomings on Israel when he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination, to make its voice heard in opposition to this truly disturbing appointment.


“Any American who is concerned about Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons, maintaining the Israeli-U.S. relationship and supporting Israel in its legitimate fight to protect her citizens from terrorism should oppose this appointment.”


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