Those concerned by United States Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel’s views on Israel saw another reason to fear with the publication on Wednesday of Hagel’s statements from a 2010 meeting with university students.
Hagel reportedly said that Israel is becoming an “apartheid state,” and dismissed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as “a radical.”
Hagel’s statements were revealed by a student who was present at the event. Former student Kenneth Wagner shared an email he wrote during Hagel’s talk with the Washington Free Beacon.
“I am sitting in a lecture by Chuck Hagel at Rutgers,” Wagner wrote in the email, which was time-stamped as having been sent at the time of Hagel’s talk. “He basically said that Israel has violated every U.N. resolution since 1967, that Israel has violated its agreements with the Quartet, that it was risking becoming an apartheid state if it didn’t allow the Palestinians to form a state. He said that the settlements were getting close to the point where a contiguous Palestinian state would be impossible.”
“He said that he [thought] that Netanyahu was a radical and that even [former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni, who was hard-nosed thought he was too radical and so wouldn’t join in a coalition [government] with him. … He said that Hamas has to be brought in to any peace negotiation,” Wagner wrote.
Wagner, a pro-Israel activist, called Hagel’s comments “pretty shocking.”
“It was probably the most negative thing I’d ever heard anybody in elected office say,” he told the Washington Free Beacon.
Hagel has made other controversial remarks regarding Israel and American Jews, including statements that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people,” and that Israel is keeping “Palestinians chained up like animals.”
He has also been criticized for his position on Iran’s nuclear program.
Hagel has backtracked on some of his comments. He said his condemnation of America’s “Jewish lobby” was “a very poor choice of words.” He has denied having claimed that Israel controls the U.S. State Department.