Shocked That AIPAC, ADL, AJC & Others Didn’t Oppose Him
This is a sad and worrying day for America, the West and Israel. This is a good day for Iran, Hamas, Hizballah and such. It is deeply troubling that the U.S. Senate has confirmed Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Hagel was confirmed by 58 votes to 41 votes.
There has never been a confirmed Defense Secretary who attracted more than eleven opposing votes. In contrast, Hagel’s predecessor, Leon Panetta, was confirmed by a unanimous 100–0 Senate vote.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) today also lamented the failure of virtually all major pro-Israel Jewish organizations to oppose Chuck Hagel’s nomination. These include AIPAC, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Orthodox Union, B’nai B’rith, National Jewish Democratic Council and many others. Some expressed “concern.” AIPAC didn’t even express concern – AIPAC was silent. But none of these major Jewish defense groups explicitly opposed Hagel or lobbied Capitol Hill against him. (ADL’s Abe Foxman even said, “[Hagel] does not have to be as bad as some fear,” because he’ll simply take orders from Obama. Not only is this a dubious assumption, but Obama has now stated that he will be counting on ‘Hagel’s judgment and counsel’).
While almost all major Jewish groups were not opposing Hagel, Iran, Hamas and Louis Farrakhan were supporting and praising Hagel’s nomination. The extremist leftwing Jewish groups, like J Street and Americans for Peace Now, also supported Hagel.
As Commentary magazine’s Jonathan Tobin has observed, “none of the major groups, aside from the Zionist Organization of America, spoke up publicly about his unsuitability for the post or his out-of-the mainstream views.”
The New York Sun has editorialized about the silence of Jewish groups other than the ZOA, noting, “only one of the Jewish defense agencies spoke out forcefully against [Hagel] That was the Zionist Organization of America … It opposed the Hagel nomination early, forthrightly, and unapologetically. The result, according to the ZOA’s president, Morton Klein, is that it received objections from several [Jewish] leaders … Said Mr. Klein: “Several senators — and important ones — said to me: ‘If Aipac, ADL and AJCommittee — especially Aipac — had come out and lobbied against Hagel, he would have been stopped.’” We believe these Jewish groups abdicated their responsibility and duty to their mission.
Chuck Hagel was the most incompetent and dangerous nominee for Defense Secretary in recent history – dangerous for America, the West and Israel. How can we entrust a man who agrees with the idea that the U.S. is the “world’s bully” to defend the U.S. and its security interests as well as the security of important allies?
How can a man who called Israel’s defending itself against Lebanon after being pounded by thousands of Hizballah rockets a ‘sickening slaughter’ be entrusted with the cabinet position charged with militarily assisting U.S. allies?
In his confirmation hearings, Hagel displayed a lack of knowledge and grasp of the issues. He also dramatically reversed himself on an array of previously held views. Unless he underwent a truly extraordinary transformation, rejecting a range of views he has held for the last 15 years, should we believe the contrary statements that Hagel uttered in a single afternoon of hearings, or should we believe Hagel’s statements and votes over 15 years?
What was especially troubling about the Jewish community’s response is that this was a black and white issue. There was no gray. Virtually everyone who cared about stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions, stopping radical Islamist terrorists, and supporting Israel’s defense knew that Chuck Hagel was as problematic and dangerous a choice as one could have imagined.
For years, Hagel’s position has been that the U.S. should eschew all measures, not only military but economic as well, to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power. Hagel’s position has also been that the U.S. engage and legitimize the most vicious terrorist groups, like the genocidal Hamas and Hizballah and that Israel is a brutal, slaughtering, war criminal.
It is not a trivial matter when a U.S. Defense Secretary is hostile to any important U.S. ally. But it is incomparably more serious when that ally is Israel, because Israel is not a relatively unthreatened ally, like Britain or Canada or Australia – it is surrounded by hostile regimes, most of whom do not even recognize it and several of whom have repeatedly made war on it. Iran has not threatened Spain with destruction, but it has repeatedly threatened Israel with destruction. Hagel’s confirmation communicates the terrible message that the U.S. is not serious about stopping Iran becoming a nuclear power.
The ZOA praises those organizations, including Christians United for Israel, the Emergency Committee for Israel, JINSA, the National Council of Young Israel, Republican Jewish Coalition, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and NORPAC, the largest pro-Israel PAC, which spoke out loudly and clearly with moral clarity in opposition to this nomination.
Had the major American Jewish organizations that abstained from the fight put themselves on record, especially early on when the Hagel nomination had been rumored but not yet formally announced, we believe that many Democratic senators who were privately troubled by Hagel’s record would have felt fortified and given cover by the depth of American Jewish concern and opposition to come out against him. Several U.S. senators expressed this to me.
A detailed record of Hagel’s statements, votes and views follow:
- In his confirmation hearings, Hagel claimed that the Iranian regime – which has bloodily cracked down on democracy protesters, rigged elections, viciously persecutes Bahais and hangs homosexuals – is “an elected, legitimate government.” Hagel also reaffirmed earlier statements that he supported containing Iran should it become a nuclear power, before switching positions after receiving a written note from one of his assistants.
- Hagel has sealed his archives in Nebraska, not permitting access to anyone and thus precluding scrutiny of his those parts of his record that might have evaded coverage till today. What was Hagel hiding?
- In a 2012 report for the Global Zero advocacy group, which works for the elimination of all nuclear weapons, Hagel co-wrote a report, ‘Global Zero: U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission,’ which 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.
- In an April 2010 speech at Rutgers University, Hagel stated inaccurately that Israel, which has a stable majority within the territories of Israel and the West Bank, as heading towards apartheid. Hagel labelled the thrice-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “radical.” He also argued for the inclusion of Hamas, a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction and the global murder of Jews, in negotiations.
- In a 2009 report co-written by Hagel, ‘A Last Chance For A Two State Israel-Palestine Agreement,’ he called for deploying a “U.S.-led multinational force” in the West Bank which would “feature American leadership of a NATO force supplemented by Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis” to maintain a peace agreement between Israel and a new Palestinian state, while also recommending a “more pragmatic approach” towards Hamas that legitimizes it rather than seeks to oust it.
- During a 2009 Al-Jazeera interview, Hagel agreed with a questioner that the U.S. was “the world’s bully” and that Palestinians were the victims of Israeli war crimes.
- In an 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).
- In October, 2009, Hagel claimed in a speech to the left-wing J Street group, “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.” Hagel also said that he opposed isolating Iran through diplomacy and sanctions, saying, “How in the world do we think isolating someone is going to bring them around to your way of thinking? He also embraced the discredited ‘linkage’ theory which contends that the Middle East can be greatly tranquilized and U.S. relations with Arab states enhanced if the U.S. pressures Israel into a peace agreement with the Palestinians, saying, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is central, not peripheral, to U.S. vital security interests in combating terrorism, preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon, stability in the Middle East and U.S. and global energy security.” Hagel also called for a Fatah-Hamas merge, saying, “No peace will be possible nor sustainable as long as the Palestinians remain a house divided.” He did not mention any conditions for Hamas (‘Chuck Hagel Delivers Speech for J Street First National Conference,’ Atlantic Council, October 27, 2009).
- In 2009, Hagel signed a letter urging President Obama to begin direct negotiations with Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist group committed in its Charter to the destruction of Israel.
- In 2009, Hagel said that he wants the Fatah/Palestinian Authority to merge with Hamas.
- In 2008, Hagel was “solely responsible” for blocking an Iran sanctions bill (Seth Colter Walls, ‘Dems Blame Senate GOP For Blocking Iran Sanctions Bill,’ Huffington Post, March 10, 2008).
- In a March 2007 speech at Rutgers University, Hagel reportedly said that “the State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.”
- In 2007, Hagel outspokenly opposed President George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq, calling it the “most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.” In fact, the surge prevented a humanitarian and politician catastrophe in Iraq and an Al-Qaeda victory. Though opposed to the surge at the time, President Obama said in his 2009 Cairo speech that “I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.”
- In a 2006 interview with former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, Hagel said that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people” on Capitol Hill (‘Hagel named to intelligence board,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 29, 2009).
- In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to formally call upon the European Union to declare Hizballah a terrorist organization (‘NJDC Criticizes Senators for Refusing to Call on EU to add Hezbollah to List of Terrorist Organizations,’ National Jewish Democratic Council press release, August 7, 2006). He also said in Senate speech that Israel had committed a “sickening slaughter” in Lebanon.
- In July 2006, at the outbreak of the Lebanon war, Hagel argued against giving Israel the time to break Hizballah, urging instead an immediate ceasefire (‘Key Republican breaks with Bush on Mideast,’ CNN.com, July 31, 2006).
- In December 2005, Hagel was one of only 27 senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush urging him to pressure the Palestinian Authority (PA) 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 and was one of only two senators in to vote against renewal of the Libya-Iran sanctions act.
- In January 2003, Hagel said that Israel was “keep[ing] Palestinians caged up like animals” (‘Hagel in 2003: Israel Keeps “Palestinians Caged Up Like Animals,”‘ Washington Free Beacon, January 9, 2013).
- In 2002, Hagel urged the Bush administration to support Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization.
- In 2002, Hagel was one of only 10 senators to oppose banning the import to America of Iraqi oil until Iraq stopped compensating the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
- 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 July 2001, Hagel was one of only two senators to vote against extending the original Iranian sanctions bill.
- In October 2000, when Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority launched a terror war against Israel after rejecting without counter-offer a plan for Palestinian statehood accepted by Israel, Hagel was one of only four senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.
- In 1999, Hagel showed 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 August 1998, Hagel rationalized Palestinian terrorism against Israeli Jews by alleging, “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).
- In 1998, as Senator, Hagel opposed the appointment of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg on the grounds that Hormel is “aggressively gay.” Hagel apologized to Hormel – in December 2012, when his nomination as Defense Secretary was imminent.
- When Hagel served as the president and CEO of the World USO from 1987 to 1990, he proposed closing the USO in Haifa, a facility run by the UNited Services Organization, a non-profit that provides programs, services and live entertainment to United States troops and their families. Hagel told Jewish leaders lobbying him to keep the post open, “Let the Jews pay for it.”
- As a professor at Georgetown University, Hagel taught a foreign policy course based primarily on anti-Israel materials and far-left manifestos that castigate America’s role in the world.
Were all of these troubling actions not enough to oppose the Hagel nomination?
To quote Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin, writing before the Hagel vote, ‘Should [Jewish organizations] fail to find their voices now about Hagel, many of the good people inside these organizations may have reason to look back with regret on their decisions. Hagel’s appointment raises genuine doubts about this administration’s commitment to stopping Iran’s nuclear threat and continued support of Israel at a time when its enemies (such as the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt) are gaining strength. Silence at such a moment is impossible for men and women of conscience.’