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January 10, 2013 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-01-10

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Hagel A Controversial
Nominee For Defense

Ron Kampeas

-Fox Run resident
Gloria Stoliar


n Monday, President Obama
nominated former Sen. Chuck
Hagel (R-Neb.) as defense
secretary. He also nominated John
Brennan, his terrorism adviser, to head
the Central Intelligence Agency.
Abe Foxman, leader of the national
B'nai B'rith, said prior to the nomina-
tion, "Sen. Hagel would not have been
my first choice, but I respect the presi-
dent's prerogative.
"I trust that the
confirmation process
will provide an oppor-
tunity for Sen. Hagel
to address concerns
about his positions,
which seem so out of
sync with President
Obama's clear com-
Chuck Hegel
mitment on issues
like Iran sanctions, isolating Hamas and
Hezbollah and the president's strong
support for a deepening of U.S. Israel
strategic cooperation.
"I particularly hope Sen. Hagel will
clarify and explain his comments about
the 'Jewish Lobby' that were hurtful to
many in the Jewish community:'
Susan Turnbull is a stalwart of both
the Democratic and Jewish communi-
ties; she currently chairs Jewish Women
International, and has in the recent past
chaired the Maryland Democratic Party
and served as deputy and then vice-
chairwoman of the Democratic National
Committee. When Hagel was reported
under consideration for the defense
post, she stated on her Facebook page:
"Calling a group 'the Jewish lobby' is
the equivalent of anti-Semitism 2.0. His
knee-jerk views are often worrisome:'
But according to the Jerusalem
Post, a number of prominent Jewish
Democrats, including Sens. Dianne
Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Carl Levin
(D-Mich.), have suggested they would
support Hagel, but others such as
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have
expressed reservations.
The National Jewish Democratic
Council said the anti-Hagel concerns it
expressed in 2007 and 2009, when Hagel
was talked about as a Republican presi-
dential candidate and, later, in an advi-
sory position with President Obama, are
no longer relevant, because it is Obama
who calls the shots. It said in a state-
ment after the nomination:
"While we have expressed concerns in
the past, we trust that when confirmed,
former Sen. Chuck Hagel will follow the
President's lead of providing unrivaled

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30 January 10 • 2013

support for Israel — on strategic coop-
eration, missile defense programs and
leading the world against Iran's nuclear
However, Republican Jewish Coalition
Executive Director Matt Brooks said,
"This nomination is a blow to U.S.-Israel
relations, to the president's relationship
with the American Jewish community,
and to U.S. security in the Middle East.
"It signals that the president, having
been re-elected, will now distance him-
self from Israel. We hope that when Sen.
Hagel's weak record is laid on the table,
senators will rightly decline to support
his nomination:'

Hegel Responds
Hagel granted his first post-nomination
interview to a local paper, the Lincoln
(Neb.) Journal Star.
He takes on some of the Israel-related
allegations, relating to his resistance to
joining resolutions and letters backed
by AIPAC, the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee, and the particulars
of his skepticism on Iran sanctions.
Not addressed, however, is his use of
the term "Jewish lobby" and his insis-
tence that he was a senator for America,
not for Israel, implying that interlocu-
tors believed he should be otherwise.
"But the fact is that there is not one
shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli,
not one [Senate] vote that matters that
hurt Israel!' Hagel said.
"I didn't sign on to certain resolutions
and letters because they were counter-
productive and didn't solve a problem!"
Critics hammered Hagel for not join-
ing most Senate colleagues in signing on
to a number of policy pronouncements
that sometimes were sought by AIPAC.
"How does that further the peace pro-
cess in the Middle East?" Hagel asked.
"What's in Israel's interest is to help
Israel and the Palestinians find some
peaceful way to live together."
As for allegations that he has been
soft toward Iran's apparent efforts to
develop a nuclear weapons capacity,
Hagel pointed to his support for strong
international sanctions, including those
currently in place.
"I have not supported unilateral sanc-
tions because when it is us alone they
don't work and they just isolate the
United States!' he said.
Brennan, the CIA nominee, has also
run into criticism, having once referred
to Jerusalem by its Arabic name, Al
Quds, and announcing that the gov-
ernment would not use the terms
"Islamists" and "jihadists."

Compiled from JTA and other sources.

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