The Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) placed a full-page ad in The New York Times on Tuesday publicly impugning the nomination of Chuck Hagel as President Barack Obama’s top choice to fill the position of Secretary of Defense.
Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska who is likely to succeed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, has ignited fury from the mainstream Jewish community for his numerous anti-Israel remarks, including his statement regarding the intention of the “Jewish lobby” to intimidate U.S. lawmakers.
The long list of Hagel’s past anti-Israel policies and statements includes failing to sign onto a letter calling on the European Union to list Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, voting against a resolution calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, and signing onto a 2009 letter urging President Barack Obama to begin peace talks with Hamas.
The ad, placed by the staunchly pro-Israel conservative action committee, asks the question “Who is Chuck Hagel?”, which is immediately followed by a definitive statement echoing the concerns of the mainstream Jewish community, stating “President Obama’s Anti-Israel nominee for Secretary of Defense.”
Quotes from leading lawmakers and academics appear in the body of the ad to justify the statement.
“I believe [the Hagel nomination] will encourage the Iranian program,” asserts Former New York Mayor Ed Koch. “ I believe it will encourage the jihadists. They will say, ‘Ah, we are winning the battle. America is beginning to desert Israel.’ If [Hagel] is not [confirmed] it’ll be because the Republicans take him on, and a few good Democrats.”
A statement by Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) reads: “It seems there is some kind of an endemic hostility toward Israel and that’s troublesome to me and troublesome to a lot of people. In the sensitive post of Secretary of Defense, those are warning bells. Those are red lights.”
Harvard University law professor and political commentator, Alan Dershowitz, affirms that, “Hagel’s appointment would send another disturbing message to the bigots of Tehran, who believe that the only people calling for military action against Iran are ‘the Jews.’ Hagel speaks their language. He is the only mainstream American politician to talk openly about how ‘the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people.’ Senator Hagel is the wrong man, being considered for the wrong job at the wrong time.”
“Hagel’s past support for protecting the interests of terrorist groups over the intrerests of Israel- America’s’ most reliable ally-would raise red flags,” adds Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-NY). “Chuch Hagel’s dismal record on issues affecting the Middle East stands in sharp contrast to the stated policies of our nation, and he would be the wrong choice for America’s next Secretary of Defense.”
Lastly appears a statement by The Washington Post Editorial Board stating that, “Chuch Hagel is not the right choice for secretary of defense… Mr. Hagel’s stated position on critical issues, raging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term-and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.”
The ad concludes by beseeching readers to call Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, asking them “to put country ahead of party” and “vote against confirming Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.”
Yet, after a 90-minute meeting in the West Wing of the White House on Monday, Schumer issued a statement saying, “Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation.”
“I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him,” Schemer added.