Tom Friedman’s endorsement of Hagel as the DefSec Israel needs is wakeup call to Bill Kristol on Boxing Day

on 45 Comments

Many times recently the Israel/Palestine issue has turned the New York Times into a small-town newspaper, whose function seems to be to chronicle the life of the Jewish community and Israel. That was the case when the newspaper made front-page news of a Manhattan synagogue’s decision to endorse Palestinian statehood. It is the case again today: Tom Friedman wants Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary, because he is the Defense Secretary that Israel needs, to save Israel from itself. Friedman knows he is up against a powerful community:

because Hagel once described the Israel lobby as the “Jewish lobby” (it also contains some Christians) [a]nd because he has rather bluntly stated that his job as a U.S. senator was not to take orders from the Israel lobby but to advance U.S. interests, he is smeared as an Israel-hater at best and an anti-Semite at worst. If ever Israel needed a U.S. defense secretary who was committed to Israel’s survival, as Hagel has repeatedly stated — but who was convinced that ensuring that survival didn’t mean having America go along with Israel’s self-destructive drift into settling the West Bank and obviating a two-state solution — it is now.

I am certain that the vast majority of U.S. senators and policy makers quietly believe exactly what Hagel believes on Israel — that it is surrounded by more implacable enemies than ever and needs and deserves America’s backing. But, at the same time, this Israeli government is so spoiled and has shifted so far to the right that it makes no effort to take U.S. interests into account by slowing its self-isolating settlement adventure. And it’s going to get worse. Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying. The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. But most U.S. senators, policy makers and Jews prefer to stick their heads in the sand, because confronting Israel is so unpleasant and politically dangerous. Hagel at least cares enough about Israel to be an exception.

Really, what should it matter to the United States that a tiny ally “makes no effort to take U.S. interests into account” through its “settlement adventure”? Friedman is saying that Israel is isolating the United States, because the U.S. lacks the political ability to make policy that is not guided by Israel. Walt and Mearsheimer said very much the same thing; and Friedman said it before a year ago when he wrote that Congress was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

This column is itself a symptom of the problem; Friedman must proffer that Hagel is “out of the mainstream.” How can that be? Because of Hagel’s

stated preferences for finding a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear program, his willingness to engage Hamas to see if it can be moved from its extremism, his belief that the Pentagon budget must be cut, and his aversion to going to war again in places like Iraq and Afghanistan

What a crazy world we live in. And this is the core power of the Israel lobby, its ability to dominate the discourse, to define conventional wisdom, to conflate American and Israeli interests, and to punish those who opposed the Iraq war and who seek non-militant answers in the Middle East. Look what happened to Barack Obama! (And yes I think this reflects the prominence inside the establishment of Jews: how many readers feel included by Friedman’s comment, “your local Israel Bonds dinner.”)

Of course Friedman as an Iraq war hawk has the ability to address this rightwing Zionist community. So his endorsement is worrying to the neocons. At 6:30 this morning, Bill Kristol posted an angry response at the Weekly Standard, leaping on the “out of the mainstream” statement. Kristol defines what the mainstream is, cossetting Israel forever:

So Hagel, “unlike most U.S. senators, policy makers and Jews” will seek confrontation with Israel. Is that what we want in our next defense secretary? Is that what most U.S. senators—dismissed by Friedman as “stick[ing] their heads in the sand”—want? In any case, Friedman confirms that on Israel as well, Hagel’s views place him out of the policy-making mainstream.

Tom Friedman came to praise Chuck Hagel. He may have ended up burying him.

Meantime, four former national security advisers, including Zbig Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci and the Obama public servant James Jones stand up for Hagel in stentorian tones in a letter to the Washington Post:

We strongly object, as a matter of substance and as a matter of principle, to the attacks on the character of former senator Chuck Hagel. Mr. Hagel is a man of unshakable integrity and wisdom who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war.

He is a rare example of a public servant willing to rise above partisan politics to advance the interests of the United States and its friends and allies.

45 Responses

  1. David Green
    December 26, 2012, 10:23 am

    Friedman’s column is predictably full of asinine assertions about Israel’s “enemies.” Yet we are supposed to see him as somehow not in lockstep with USFP and empire, including Israel’s occupation. Friedman’s column reveals once again the absurdity of this promotion of Hagel. Hagel isn’t lipstick on a pig. He’s the pig.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 26, 2012, 1:12 pm

      hagel’s the pig? what’s kristol? friedman? boars?

      • Mooser
        December 26, 2012, 4:03 pm

        Well, I don’t see why Kristol can’t comfort himself with the fact that Friedman is putting Israel’s needs first, even if he disagrees with Kristol on who will best fill them.

    • Shingo
      December 26, 2012, 5:17 pm

      Hagel isn’t lipstick on a pig. He’s the pig.

      You sound like the Bill Krystol mini me.

      • David Green
        December 27, 2012, 4:47 pm

        You sound like someone who supports militarism so long as it is allgedly to the benefit of people who are not Zionists.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 27, 2012, 11:00 pm

        specifically what are you referencing wrt ‘sounds like’ supporting militarism? can you blockquote it? do you mean from this comment or somewhere else?

      • Shingo
        December 28, 2012, 7:04 am

        You sound like someone who supports militarism so long as it is allgedly to the benefit of people who are not Zionists.

        You sound like someone who reflexively creates straw men every time anyone shines a light on hi hypocrisy.

        FYI. I am opposed to all militarism.

      • Shingo
        December 28, 2012, 7:06 am

        He’s just creating a straw man Annie.

        Underneath that veneer of cocern for justice an human rights, Green is just another Peter Beinhart anti-BDS and pro-going-nowhere activist.

      • David Green
        December 28, 2012, 11:23 am

        Then why do you care whether Hagel or some other tool is SoD?

      • David Green
        December 28, 2012, 11:25 am

        if you oppose the mic and war, then you don’t give a crap about hagel but i guess you and shingo etc. have a high regard for u s imperialism

      • Annie Robbins
        December 28, 2012, 1:10 pm

        more ‘i guess’ logic. i explain why i support the nomination here, not that you care:

        link to

        we’re not going to get a dove for def sec, that’s a given. why don’t you tell us who you would support. ralph nadar? did you also advocate not to vote in the last election after the primaries?

        what i don’t understand is your hostile combative ‘you don’t give a crap’ accusations. are you imagining this furthers the discussion david? what do you think of parsi’s statement at the link?

      • Shingo
        December 29, 2012, 6:53 am

        if you oppose the mic and war, then you don’t give a crap about hagel but i guess you and shingo etc. have a high regard for u s imperialism

        I suppose when you’ve been outed as a garden variety “liberal” Zionist, who’s idea of activism involved a lot of hand wringing while opposing any punitive action against Israel, your only recourse is straw men arguments.

        Hagel was wrong about Iraq and admitted as much. The issue is that he is adamantly opposed to war with Iran. One would assume any true opponent of Iran would welcome Hagel’s stance, but the likes of David will ignore Hagel’s admission and simply insist on derailing his nomination regardless.

        The subsequent candidate will very likely be much more pro war, and pro Likud and in the event of such a nomination, David will shrug his shoulders and say it’s regrettable, then more on.

  2. Citizen
    December 26, 2012, 10:41 am

    I guess Friedman thinks Washington DC and the mainstream media is mainstream America. He did bury Hagel with that comment, methinks. Nobody’s gonna instantly poll Dick and Jane on Hagel’s foreign policy views. They’d find out Hagel IS mainstream America.

  3. Citizen
    December 26, 2012, 10:42 am

    I read about the first 3 dozen comments under Friedman’s article in NYT; so far most support Hagel and/or Friedman’s support of Hagel. One was miffed Friedman called Hagel’s POV “out of the mainstream.”

  4. Citizen
    December 26, 2012, 10:45 am

    PS: Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day, December 26; it’s known as Boxing Day in Britain. It was also known as the Feast of St Stephen.

    • Mooser
      December 26, 2012, 2:33 pm

      Boxing day is traditionally celebrated with knock-down, drag-out fights at return counters, Empire-wide. Even the far-flungers have a fling.

    • libra
      December 26, 2012, 5:17 pm

      In his determination to be more WASPish than the old WASPs one wonders just how far Phil has taken this particular anglophile affectation. Did he actually distribute boxes to the Mondoweiss staff filled with leftover’s from the Weiss family feast?

      One imagines Phil’s Christmas goose will be truly cooked with Professor Ellis when he opens his FedExed festive fare in Florida only for the Ghost of Christmas Past to emerge in the form of a plate of cold cuts inviting him to indulge in the Feast Of St. Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr no less.

      • mcohen
        December 27, 2012, 4:48 pm

        well said -worth 3 chuckles and a smirk,in the back with dirk

      • Mooser
        December 28, 2012, 12:01 pm

        “worth 3 chuckles and a smirk,in the back with dirk”

        That’s pretty good, “mcohen”. Why, that one phrase could have served as Hostage’s answer to Gil and Sil, instead of the hundreds of informative lines he wrote on the “Walzer” thread..
        But I admit that is a wonderfully succinct summation of Zionist truthfulness and method. I would never argue with you about it, you ought to know.

  5. Krauss
    December 26, 2012, 10:52 am

    I remember watching Chris Hayes’ most excellent recent show, where they debated both AIPAC/Hagel as well as Zero Dark Thirty and torture.

    In that debate, which featured the always-excellent Glenn Greenwald, also featured the ‘liberal’ racist Zionist Aaron David Miller.
    The same man who has lamented on the Op-Ed pages of the NYT that among Israel’s problems is “too many Arabs”.

    Miller is smart enough to understand that the days of denying the role and the existance of the lobby is over. Nobody buys the whole “you’re just an anti-Semitic paranoid nutcase” argument anymore. His job is to act as the minimizer.

    His – and many ‘liberal’ Zionists like him – argument has been that AIPAC and assorted lobbies only act on I/P and even on that limited area, a smart president can work his way ’round. Of course, that is total fantasy, but it wasn’t until now that the newest hasbara line has been completely and utterly demolished.

    Now, when Hagel goes down, we can all see that in fact in a time of a great change, in a world where the U.S. will no longer be the sole superpower this coming decade, 99% of the discussion of one of the most important government positions has been about Israel, representing less than 1% of the world’s population and even less of the world’s area.

    Therefore, AIPAC, in the end, is the most powerful force of the entire foreign policy sphere of the U.S.
    This is no longer about I/P alone. When the lobby has a veto on key government positions, we can no longer talk about “limited influence on Israel/Palestine”. No, this is serious. What next? How many senior cabinet positions will AIPAC get to veto if someone has a view on Israel that isn’t in line with the AIPAC line?

    We’re entering a new phase in American politics, AIPAC’s power is growing by the day. They effectively hold a veto over the president of the U.S. over foreign policy, not just on I/P.
    A foreign lobby, concerned with a foreign nation is effectively picking senior cabinet positions instead of the U.S. president.

    This is truly frightening.

  6. American
    December 26, 2012, 10:59 am

    I am all out of things to say about this US Israel group, every time they do this you think well, this is it, this is so outrageous, so obvious in what it is, it has to be the last straw. But it keeps on happening. So I’ll just keep repeating the timeless wisdom of George.

    ”And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

    Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests. ”

    Geo Washington 1796

  7. marc b.
    December 26, 2012, 11:40 am

    israel doesn’t have any ‘friends’, and i don’t see why it’s our responsibility to save it from itself. hagel gets whacked? great. we don’t need another ‘realist’ enabler.

    • Citizen
      December 26, 2012, 1:29 pm

      hey, marc b, maybe it’s a case of choosing the less realist enabler of Israel’s activity?
      I mean, you got a better practical choice than Hagel? Who? No, it’s not our duty to save Israel from itself, but to save US & world from Israel.

  8. Parity
    December 26, 2012, 11:55 am

    A comment by Jeremy, of Morocco, under Tom Friedman’s endorsement of Hagel is worth repeating:

    link to

    Perhaps a US Senator should circulate a letter for signature to other senators that says: “I pledge not to sign one more letter on behalf of Israel until a majority of the Israeli Knesset signs a letter pledging always to put US interests – as defined by the US government — at the front and center of Israeli policy.”

    • Avi_G.
      December 26, 2012, 1:14 pm

      Perhaps a US Senator should circulate a letter for signature to other senators that says: “I pledge not to sign one more letter on behalf of Israel until a majority of the Israeli Knesset signs a letter pledging always to put US interests – as defined by the US government — at the front and center of Israeli policy.”

      That would be anti-Semetic. ;)

  9. Jim Holstun
    December 26, 2012, 12:58 pm

    That Tom Friedman supports Hagel’s nomination should have been a tipoff that this is a meaningless controversy. But for a brilliant examination of precisely WHY it’s meaningless, see Max Ajl’s remarkable piece, “Why Chuck Hagel Is Irrelevant,” at Jadaliyya: link to

    Stop looking for “good guys” or “moderately less awful guys”; follow the money.

    • Keith
      December 26, 2012, 7:01 pm

      JIM HOLSTUN- Overall, Max Ajl’s article is good, however, I disagree with him on one point. “Oil is an incredibly cheap commodity to produce….” Conventional oil, perhaps, but not oil from unconventional sources such as Canadian tar sands oil which needs a price of at least $80 per barrel to be profitable. The US appears to be committed to expanding production of tar sands oil and natural gas through “fracking,” environmental consequences be damned. As such, maintaining high oil prices has strategic significance well beyond Saudi Arabia’s budget. Indeed, Canada under Harper is pushing tar sands oil as hard as it can, its economy becoming that of a petro-state. In other words, empire has a lot of reasons for keeping oil prices relatively high. As for Hagel, this whole business could be a ruse such that if he is appointed and confirmed, this would provide some sort of symbolic victory for liberals who aren’t going to get anything of substance from Wall Street’s lawyer in the White House.

      • Jim Holstun
        December 27, 2012, 9:32 am

        I think that’s further evidence for Ajl’s case: if the Saudis release more oil at a cheaper price, then the tar sands petrocapitalists plummet. Keep the prices and the Middle Eastern tensions up, and everybody profits, including American arms manufacturers, who benefit enormously from the proviso that a hunk of US aid to Israel go to them.

        If Mondoweiss wants to true diversity of opinion, it would do well to post and link to more of Ajl’s writings, which provide a marxist perspective quite distinct from and critical of the Mearsheimer-Walt “realist” definition of “American interests” as “American empire.”

      • MRW
        December 27, 2012, 6:27 pm

        Keith, the Oil Sands doesn’t need $80/barrel to be profitable. The cost is under $10 to produce (1990), but the issue is the higher royalty fee now paid to the American companies producing there. AND. The higher cost for the stringent reclamation laws (since 1949, then 1970) made even more stringent three years ago. All oil producers have to store and maintain the flora they disturb and return it (or replace it) when the area is completely mined two or three decades later. Reclamation plans sometimes take a year for provincial approval before the Oil Sands steam-removal process can begin.

      • Keith
        December 28, 2012, 3:47 pm

        MRW- “Keith, the Oil Sands doesn’t need $80/barrel to be profitable.”

        Allow me to quote a quote I provided to you on 8/14/12: “Last week, Wood Mackenzie, the oil experts, came out and said what many in the industry had increasingly been fearing. Noting the tar sands’ high-energy extraction process meant production costs were among the highest of any oil fields in the world, Wood Mackenzie warned that falling – or simply volatile – prices “could result in operators delaying or cancelling unsanctioned projects.”….To put this into perspective, it now costs between $80and $100 a barrel to break even on new Canadian oil sand mines….”
        link to

        You made no response to this quote. I am unfamiliar with the accounting for tar sands oil, that is, where all of the costs are incurred. If you have information showing that bitumen is cheap to produce, lets see it. Seems unlikely. If so, one would expect to see bitumen vigorously competing with light, sweet crude. No way, Jose!
        link to

        As for your insistence that bitumen is a pristine source of fuel (stringent requirements, etc), reclamation of the land is a consequence of the bitumen strip mining process, one which is not being implemented satisfactorily, hence, the opposition of virtually the entire environmental community. Check out the Sierra Club videos on bitumen extraction. Opposition, I might add, which you downplay even as you give high credence to industry flacks and global warming deniers. Here is a link to a Canadian environmental group which I previously supplied for you.
        link to

        “Bitumen’s low-energy returns and earth destroying production methods explain why the unruly resource requires capital investments of approximately $126,000 per barrel of daily production and market prices of between $60 and $80. Given its impurities, bitumen often sells for half the price of West Texas crude…..Bitumen is what a desparate civilization mines after it’s depleted its cheap oil. It’s a bottom-of-the-barrel resource, a signal that business as usual in the oil patch has ended.” (p16, “Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent,” Andrew Nikiforuk, 2010)
        link to

      • MRW
        December 31, 2012, 4:52 am

        You made no response to this quote.

        I have no means of knowing someone has responded to me. I don’t get email notices.

      • MRW
        December 31, 2012, 5:03 am

        Anyone who calls the Alberta Oil Sands “Tar Sands” is an advocacy group dead set against it. You can count on one thing: they have never set foot in the province. They have never investigated it themselves at Fort McMurray. I have. None have them have read this (450+ pages). NONE OF THEM. None of them have called the scientists who contributed to this report. I DID. One of the scientists said I was probably “one of the six people in Canada who read it,” even though I am not in Canada.
        link to

        Responding to you is therefore pointless. You have your mind made up. And I can tell you the moment I see Bill McKibben attached to anything, I know I am dealing with a fool. He’s an idiot who will be proved irresponsible within five years. Mark my words.

  10. David Doppler
    December 26, 2012, 2:53 pm

    I find Friedman’s support of Hagel to be a sign of hope that Obama will push forward with the nomination. The trial balloon has resulted in the hard core lobby, led by Kristol, making its desires, intentions and tactics clear, and the less clearly delineated propaganda organs in the MSM that support the lobby, revealing itself. You can read all those reports that the White House is considering withdrawing it as part of that propaganda effort. Now Friedman gives permission to lots of pundits and reporters to engage in the war of ideas in the Middle East. Do you follow Kristol? or Friedman? or stake a claim somewhere else in the vicinity (e.g., Phil Weiss, who should have his agent suggest to various shows that now might be a good time to invite Mr. War of Ideas to address the nation)? Those who followed Kristol could get left standing high and dry, discredited by their own words and reporting. If Obama comes out with a strong endorsement, and the Senate rapidly confirms him, the element of fear and intimidation will have been undermined, and the credibility of the propaganda organs damaged. Maybe Phil would become a regular on Meet the Press.

  11. David Doppler
    December 26, 2012, 2:55 pm

    Moreover, if done before the Israeli elections, Netanyahu will be left looking particularly bad, having damaged Israel’s relationship with the US, and weakened his own lobby here.

  12. Les
    December 26, 2012, 4:11 pm

    M J Rosenberg:

    Yes, It’s The Jewish Lobby, And It Consists Of One Percent Of Us

    The neoconservatives’ battle to sink the potential nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel has again raised the issue of the power of the Israel lobby. And it should. Hagel, as a respected former senator would be sailing to an easy confirmation, if not for the lobby which considers him less than devoted to Israel.

    The assault on Hagel is truly ugly and opposing a highly respected ex-senator and decorated war hero out of fear he won’t defer to Netanyahu is also stupid. Unlike John McCain whose war record is ambiguous, Hagel’s record was indisputably heroic. He and his brother Tom served side by side in Vietnam as infantry squad leaders and earned military decorations and honors, including two Purple Hearts. To put it bluntly, how does it look to be opposing this war hero for being insufficiently friendly to a foreign country?

    The most maddening thing is that the lobby does not speak for most Jews, not even close. The best proof of that was this year’s election results in which 70% of Jews voted for President Obama although Netanyahu and his cutouts here made it clear that they supported Romney. And, as the definitive American Jewish Committee survey demonstrated, not even the Jewish Republican vote had much, if anything, to do with Israel. Only 5% of Jews consider Israel their most important issue. Republican Jews are Republican for the same reasons other Republicans are (the economy, and other domestic issues). Overwhelmingly, Jews choose domestic issues as most important to them. Additionally the Jews who do care about Israel (a strong majority at least) support neither Netanyahu nor the occupation. The last Israeli prime minister they admired was Yitzhak Rabin.

    So who and what is the lobby?

    The first thing to know about it is that it is about delivering money not votes. It is irrelevant that most Jews are liberals and not Netanyahu devotees. The people with the money (i.e., the lobby) are right-wing on Israel. And it is those people (think Democrat Haim Saban and Republican Sheldon Adelson and the like) who have the clout. Not the dentist or lawyer down the street or the local Hadassah chapter.

    I worked on Capitol Hill for 20 years, for five Members of Congress, and had hundreds of dealings with the lobby. Despite claims that the lobby includes Christians, that is simply not true — at least not in terms of influencing U.S. policies.

    First, so-called “Christian Zionists” do not give heavily to campaigns so their support for Likud policies is both amorphous and not significant. Second, “Christian Zionists” are Republicans who will never support the party of choice, GLBT rights and higher taxes. Unlike the AIPAC-directed donors, they are not in play. They are just Republicans. (Even when “Christian Zionists” do contribute to campaigns, their issues are the social issues like blocking marriage equality, not supporting Israel).

    Bottom line: the Israel Lobby is the Jewish Lobby. One would be hard-pressed to find a single legislator who kisses up to Netanyahu and AIPAC to please Christians.

    That makes it critical that the overwhelming majority of Jews get the message across that the lobby does not speak for us. And that the lobby isn’t us. AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and the multi-millionaires associated with all of them constitute a lobby of a few thousand people. They are the Jewish (less than) One Percent. And that is all they speak for.

    But, like the other one-percent, their voices drown the rest of us out. That is because our political system is not about votes, it is about money. Until we have public financing of campaigns (which is probably never), politicians will do what the lobby tells them to do. But, remember, it’s not the Jews, it is a few unrepresentative millionaires and billionaires who enjoy making the United States government quake both for Netanyahu’s sake and to feel all-powerful. Don’t blame the Jews.

    And, Mr. President, do us all a favor and choose Chuck Hagel. In today’s New York Times, Tom Friedman explains why.

    link to

    • Nevada Ned
      December 27, 2012, 10:34 am

      Hats off to M. J. Rosenberg for his thoughtful article.

      When I lived in NYC, my Jewish friends were mostly teachers or social workers, who were not in a position to donate $100M to the Israeli cause, even if they wanted to. Which they didn’t.

  13. chinese box
    December 26, 2012, 5:50 pm

    Note Friedman’s lament that Israel won’t “slow” (rather than halt, or reverse) it’s settlement activity. Is this just a sop to Zionist readers or is Friedman okay with continued colonization as long as it’s not too obvious?

    • Citizen
      December 27, 2012, 6:01 am

      @ chinese box
      Yeah, that’s one of the many hedges in Friedman’s endorsement. I’m sure he closed his eyes and squeezed his brow when he sent that little missile off to the press. I imagine he thought the Hagel thing was being made public so much he had to try his best to be seen as still on top of the fence, leaning forward (the logo of MSNBC).

  14. ToivoS
    December 26, 2012, 6:43 pm

    Walt has another good post up on Hagel. He points out that his nomination as SOD is not likely to make much difference in US FP. He is after all a conservative Republican. But this is the key: If Hagel gets appointed, it means other people in Washington might realize they could say what they really think without fear that their careers will be destroyed. And once that happens, who knows where it might lead? It might even lead to a Middle East policy that actually worked! We wouldn’t want that now, would we?

    This is why we should support Hagel. We should not see him as an advocate for the end of empire.

  15. Citizen
    December 26, 2012, 7:56 pm

    Chris Matthew tonight: Discussed Hagel under topic “Borking”
    Said Netatanyahu ‘s new settlements cut off any chance of a Palestine state.
    Is floating trial balloon of nominee, letting him twist in wind, the new POTUS way?
    Chris says he’s grown (progressed) on issue of gay rights, raising issue, has Hagel?
    Said critics put Hagel to the left of Obama on Iran and as a critic of Israel Lobby, Hagel was out of the DC mainstream as “most folks around here support Israel.”
    Showed clip of Lieberman saying Hegal would be a hard sell in Congress. One guest brought up Friedman’s support today in NYT.

    Now I have to check Fox to watch Bill Kristol going crazy about Friedman in his usual slick manner….

  16. piotr
    December 26, 2012, 9:46 pm

    Of course Hagel is not a savior. He may be better than Panetta. If there is a bad blood between Hagel an neo-cons it is a plus, the “magic” of the lobby badly needs to be dented.

    My wish list about Department of Defense is short:

    a. wind down war in Afghanistan that does not do anyone any good,

    b. help cutting Pentagon budget,

    c. decrease enthusiasm to support Israel through thick, thin and idiotic.

    Hagel can help on all three points, while neo-cons deserve to be reduced to the status of nattering nabobs of negativity, eternally displeased.

  17. piotr
    December 27, 2012, 12:43 am

    It seems that NYT tries to live up to Murdoch’s observation about “American Jewish owned media”. The impression is that the editors positively support Hagel, and while Friedman has his column, on the same Op-Ed page there is an invited piece “Don’t Let Pro-Israel Extremists Sink Chuck Hagel” by “James Besser was the Washington correspondent for The Jewish Week from 1987 to 2011 and was a syndicated columnist for several Jewish newspapers.”

    It seems that neo-cons and Adelson’s cohorts are widely despised within Jewish community, including normal (non-extremist) Zionists. One thing is that the gap between “normal American Zionists” and the government of Israel is growing, and bromides about “necessary unity” from Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations etc. are apparently working much less than before.

    I know that most folks here do not see merits of “liberal Zionists”, but the fact is that the differences are real and that for years they were papered over to the benefit of extremists. To cite Besser: “Such extremism is once again on display as the pro-Israel right, including groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel, mounts a furious campaign against the potential nomination of the former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense.”.

    I think that Besser’s article is worth reading. Friedman represents Friedman. Besser writes as an insider from actual Jewish press. To him, AIPAC, ADL etc. are mainstream Jewish organizations that “capitulated” to extremists. So this is an important context for Friedman’s lament. Namely, that someone should put a break on Israeli government in which Netanyahu will soon be on the “leftist fringe”.

  18. Citizen
    December 29, 2012, 8:03 am

    I see Ed Koch has slammed Friedman as confused and clearly hostile to Israel because of Friedman’s support of Hagel: link to

    Note how Koch’s entire article conflates US interests with Israel’s.

  19. pabelmont
    December 31, 2012, 2:44 pm

    We,here, live daily under the shadow of the destruction of the rights of Palestinians (and Americans!) due to the power of the Israel lobby.

    Some people have it — perhaps — worse, as this article by Arundhati Roydescribes the plight of the very poor (and indigenous) people of India under the shock tactics of raging capitalism wherein anyone who opposes government takeovers of land is labeled a “Maoist” and “terrorist” and can be shot by the army.

    Yes, our “game” of I/P is awful and quite gray-haired by now, but it is not the only “game in town”.

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