The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has noted further disturbing episodes in the career of Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense.
- The Washington Post revealed that Hagel blamed Israel for Palestinian terrorism when he said in August 1998, “The Israeli government essentially continues to play games … Desperate men do desperate things when you take hope away. And that’s where the Palestinians are today” (Glenn Kessler, ‘Chuck Hagel and Israel in context: A guide to his controversial statements,’ Washington Post, January 7, 2013).
- Hagel showed his complete indifference to the plight of Jews trapped in the Soviet Union in 1999 when he was the only senator out of 100 who refused to sign a statement against manifestations of increased anti-Semitism in Russia. The petition was set to appear as a full-page newspaper ad during then-president Boris Yeltsin’s visit to the United States (‘Hagel as senator didn’t sign anti-Semitism pledge,’ Washington Times, December 19, 2012).
- In a little-reported interview on the Al-Jazeera network in 2009, Hagel argued that the U.S. and Russia, rather than rogue states, should take the first steps towards nuclear disarmament saying, “Let’s begin with the two nuclear powers that now are responsible for ninety-six percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. Russia and the United States have a particular obligation. We must join in some unison here to lead the rest of the world … That’s the point behind having American leadership as well as Russian leadership out front on eliminating nuclear weapons … How can we preach to other countries that you can’t have nuclear weapons but we can and our allies can? There is no credibility, there’s no logic to that argument. And we have been losing on that argument … I think and many people in the United States of America and Russia and in other parts of the world believe it has to go and that it is the elimination, the phasing out of nuclear weapons” (Aaron Klein, ‘Hagel: U.S. should give up nukes before rogue nations,’ World Net Daily, January 11, 2012). Hagel reiterated and elaborated on these ideas in a 2012 report for the Global Zero advocacy group, which works for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. In the report he co-authored, “Global Zero: U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission,” Hagel advocated an 80% reduction in the U.S. nuclear-weapons to about 900 weapons, with only half of those being deployed. He also called for the eventual phasing out of short-range nuclear weapons and the elimination of ICBMs and B-52 bombers. One of the co-authors, former U.S. ambassador Thomas Pickering, reportedly previously held clandestine meetings with Hamas aiming to open U.S. dialogue with the terrorist group.
- In October, 2009, Hagel stated: “I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies…. If we can convince Damascus to pause and re-consider its positions and support regarding Iran, Hezballah, Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, we will have made progress for the entire Middle East, Israel, and the U.S. Syria wants to talk – at the highest levels – and everything is on the table…. The next bi-lateral peace treaty for Israel is with Syria” (‘Chuck Hagel Delivers Speech for J Street First National Conference,’ Atlantic Council, October 27, 2009).