Liberal Zionists and neocons battle over Chuck Hagel

Israel/Palestine
on 53 Comments

The possible nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of Defense is drawing neoconservative opposition and support from liberal Zionists and realists. In short, the Israel lobby is dividing over Chuck Hagel. Here are some of the latest responses.

In the New York Times, “Comments on Israel by Top Contender for Defense Secretary Are Scrutinized,” reporter Mark Landler highlights the neoconservative opposition to Hagel–

“It is a matter of fact that a record like that is well outside the mainstream of both Democratic and Republican positions on such issues,” said Josh Block, the chief executive of the Israel Project, a pro-Israel educational group.

–but Landler says that the criticism will likely not sink a Hagel nomination. Note that the liberal Zionist group J Street is on Hagel’s side, or seems to be:

Some officials on Capitol Hill predicted that if nominated, Mr. Hagel, 66, would not face anywhere near the opposition that scuttled Ms. Rice’s candidacy. He remains popular among his former colleagues.

But the steady drumbeat of criticism….

“There is a very systematic effort going on, and these things can have an impact,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group, which defends Mr. Hagel.

“It is simply beyond disturbing to think that somebody of Chuck Hagel’s stature and significant record of national service is being slandered in this way,” Mr. Ben-Ami said.

Update: J Street has strongly endorsed Hagel.

Liberal Zionist Dana Milbank in the Washington Post is supporting Hagel:

Hagel would probably be swiftly confirmed by the Senate, and he should be: A man of unassailable military credentials who regards war as a last resort is exactly the sort of person to head the Pentagon.

…It’s fair criticism to say Hagel isn’t sufficiently pro-Israel, although much the same is said of the man who would nominate him. But [Bill] Kristol, and then others, went further, publishing a passage from a 2008 book in which Hagel is quoted as saying: “The political reality is that . . . the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.”

That was a dumb phrase — many Christians are pro-Israel and many Jews aren’t — and Hagel said he misspoke (he used the phrase “Israel lobby” elsewhere in the interview). But, as an American Jew who has written about anti-Semitism in political dialogue, I don’t see this as anti-Semitic or anti­-Israel….

Hagel was explaining why he didn’t sign all of those nonbinding letters from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, justifiably calling them “stupid.”

Peter Beinart, a liberal Zionist, is justly angered by the anti-Semitism charge leveled against Hagel by neocon Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal:

Take [Stephens's] column today entitled “Chuck Hagel’s Jewish Problem,” the first paragraph of which notes that “prejudice—like cooking, wine-tasting and other consummations—has an olfactory element” and that when it comes to Hagel’s statements about Jews “the odor is especially ripe.” Pretty subtle, huh?

So what’s Stephens’ evidence? Two quotations. The first is Hagel’s statement, four years ago, that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” What Stephens doesn’t tell his readers is that Aaron Miller, the well-respected former peace processor from a distinguished Cleveland Jewish family who quotes Hagel as saying that, also calls him “a strong supporter of Israel and a believer in shared values.” Or that Miller himself writes that “political pressures have taken a serious toll by conditioning a key branch of the American government [Congress] to be reflexively pro-Israel.” Maybe Miller has a Jewish problem too?

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin is busy carrying the water for Abe Foxman. Two neocons, busy as bees. More anti-Semitism charges: 

Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, emails me from overseas on the potential for Chuck Hagel to be picked as secretary of Defense:

“Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice for the American Jewish community’s friends of Israel.  His record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling.   The sentiments he’s expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and former president Jimmy Carter.”

John Judis at The New Republic stands up for Hagel, yes at the New Republic, and puts his finger on Hagel’s sins. He opposed the Iraq war, he pushed for the two-state solution and an end to settlements:

[Hagel's] critics include the Republican Jewish Coalition, which is funded by gambling mogul and greater-Israel proponent Sheldon Adelson; the Zionist Organization of America, which also opposes a two-state solution; and a sundry collection of fellow travellers, including the Weekly Standard, Commentary, and the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin. “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy,” one Republican aide told The Weekly Standard. “This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.”

I know something about Hagel. I spent several months talking to him and to people who know him for a profile I wrote for The New Republic in 2007 when he was considering running for president. I can’t confidently say that he would make a good or great Secretary of Defense, but I can say with confidence that Hagel is a honorable man who served with distinction as a senator and that his foreign policy views, including his positions on Israel and its American lobby, are, if anything, a reason to support rather than oppose his nomination.  

…He has energetically backed the “peace process” and a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine.

This last position is what is now causing Hagel trouble. He stands accused of recommending that the United States talk to individuals, groups and countries that are seen as enemies of Israel.

Judis says it all turns on McCain:

The attempt by the Republican Jewish Coalition and The Weekly Standard, which still holds a special grudge against Hagel for opposing the Iraq war, may not succeed in derailing Hagel’s nomination. AIPAC has been quiet to date on Hagel’s potential nomination, and J Street, its liberal counterpart, has actively backed Hagel, who spoke at its 2009 conference. So has Aaron David Miller. One key indicator of Hagel’s chances at confirmation will be whether John McCain speaks out in his favor. The two men used to be very friendly –Hagel was the co-chair of McCain’s presidential campaign during 2000 – but fell out over the Iraq war. If McCain backs Hagel, then Obama may be willing to risk the controversy that the pro-Netanyahu groups are likely to foment. But if the Republicans coalesce against Hagel, as they did against Susan Rice, Obama may worry that the nomination fight will overshadow his efforts to evade the fiscal cliff.  

Oh and some non-Jews have also offered opinions on the matter, in blogs. First Steve Walt worries that Obama will cave, and says that Bill Kristol has resorted to smearing critics because his own position, opposing the two-state solution, has been revealed to be extremist:

President Obama hasn’t shown a lot of backbone on this issue in the past, and it’s possible that Kristol and the other hardliners who are now spewing falsehoods about Hagel will get the White House to blink. It’s also possible that Obama will prefer a less traditional defense and foreign policy team and will opt for somebody else for that reason….

But what this incident really reveals is how desperate Kristol & Co. are becoming. Having conceived, cheer-led, and then bungled the disastrous Iraq war, their credentials as foreign policy “experts” are forever tarnished. They’ve used the “anti-Semitism/Israel-hater” charge so often and so inaccurately that it is losing its power to silence or deter, and defending the “special relationship” will be more and more difficult as Israel drifts rightward and hopes for a two-state solution fade into oblivion. 

These trends will force Kristol and those who share his views to use even more despicable tactics to defend an untenable status quo.

Andrew Sullivan is as usual incisive, landing on Bret Stephens:

Like a kabuki dance, here it comes: the usual vile insinuations; the usual call for the Greater Israel Lobby to kill a nomination because a US Senator actually believe his job is to care first about the security and interests of the US, not Greater Israel; the reflexive equation of opposition to the Netanyahu administration or the settlements or the Gaza wars with pure bigotry. The phrases – “the odor is especially ripe” – are as preeningly self-righteous as they are toxic. You are not allowed, for example, to note that well-financed organized Washington lobbies “intimidate” lawmakers:

[Stephens writes,] “the word ‘intimidates’ ascribes to the so-called Jewish lobby powers that are at once vast, invisible and malevolent; and because it suggests that legislators who adopt positions friendly to that lobby are doing so not from political conviction but out of personal fear.”

Once again, I hope that the firestorm over the phrase, the “Jewish lobby,” will prompt a conversation about Zionism in the Jewish community. Roger Waters used the term “the Israel and the Jewish lobby” at the Russell Tribunal. Shlomo Sand said “the Jewish lobby” and amended himself to say, “the pro-Zionist lobby” last week.

In the Times, Landler wrote, “Critics faulted… his use of the phrase ‘Jewish’ rather than ‘Israel,’ suggesting that all advocates for Israel are Jewish.”

Yes and what about the other question: Are all Jews advocates for Israel? No. The media should be asking that question. Let’s see a show of hands.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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53 Responses

  1. seanmcbride
    December 19, 2012, 11:50 am

    Why I keep coming back to Mondoweiss: Phil just penned the best summary analysis on the Chuck Hagel controversy that has appeared anywhere in the world media to date. (And with the help of Google News and Prismatic I have actually read every article on the subject that has appeared in the world media to date.)

    Mondoweiss is the first place to go to figure out what is going on in Mideast politics. Mondoweiss is on the leading edge of smart analysis concerning Israel and the Israel lobby. Everyone else is following.

  2. Les
    December 19, 2012, 12:04 pm

    From Moon of Alabama:

    December 19, 2012
    No “Jewish Leaders” Headlines?

    The Israel Lobby and the neocons are trying to make a case against Chuck Hagel as next U.S. Secretary of Defense. The case is bogus but it reveals some of the smear tactics behind such campaigns.

    The New York Times has a piece about the non-controversy currently headlined Comments on Israel by Top Contender for Defense Secretary Are Scrutinized.

    But that is not the original headline. The much more fitting first one is readable in the URL of the piece:

    link to nytimes.com

    [www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/us/politics/chuck-hagel-candidate-for-defense-post-criticized-by-jewish-leaders.html]

    Indeed the voices against Hagel in that piece are from Jewish lobbying groups. Mentioned as critical of Hagel as being a not-Israel firster are “Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy organization” and “Josh Block, the chief executive of the Israel Project, a pro-Israel educational group”.

    As the piece fits well with the initial headline visible in the URL, one wonders why the editors felt a need to change it. Is it not allowed to expose “Jewish leaders” when they are trying to dictate U.S. policies?

    Posted by b on December 19, 2012

    link to moonofalabama.org

    • Philip Weiss
      December 19, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Yes, Annie also made this point to me today. Thanks

    • seanmcbride
      December 19, 2012, 12:28 pm

      Les,

      Jews comprise around 2% of the American population, but by my count more than 95% of the individuals who have attacked or smeared Chuck Hagel to date have been Jews who are associated with Jewish or pro-Israel organizations and who are motivated by a high level of Israeli patriotism.

      Will the mainstream media continue to pretend that what is happening isn’t happening?

      • Les
        December 19, 2012, 1:58 pm

        Germany’s media in 1921 and our print and broadcast media now?

        Einstein

        “While, in my opinion the economic position of the German Jews is very much over-rated, the influence of Jews on the press, in literature and in science in Germany is very marked, as must be apparent to even the most superficial observer.”

      • biorabbi
        December 19, 2012, 3:38 pm

        I love Israel. I’m Jewish. Is that OK, Sean and Annie. The great thing about this country is I can speak up to haters and I really don’t care what they think about me. I’m a physician in Arkansas. I would do anything in my power to protect America and Israel. Both are very dear to my heart. I’m deeply proud to be an American. The stench of anti-semitism has never been as strong here as in Europe which is a testament to the inherent goodness of Americans.

        As for the dual loyalty charge, If Israel invades Arkansas, I’ll pick up on of my guns in defense of America.

      • RoHa
        December 19, 2012, 8:00 pm

        “I love Israel. … The great thing about this country is I can speak up to haters and I really don’t care what they think about me. I’m a physician in Arkansas.”

        So when you say “this country”, do you mean Israel or the USA?

      • Mooser
        December 19, 2012, 10:21 pm

        “I’m a physician in Arkansas.”

        That’s great, but are you a Rabbi? Why would a person even insinuate they were a Rabbi if they weren’t?

      • Mooser
        December 19, 2012, 10:49 pm

        “As for the dual loyalty charge, If Israel invades Arkansas, I’ll pick up on of my guns in defense of America.”

        Yeah, you’ll be called up for the invasion, which should happen any day now, so you’ll have every chance to show your loyalty.

        But really, Rabbi, do you think this is the time for happy-gun-talk? Yes sir, that’s just so darn appropriate right about now.

        And you love Israel? You love Israel? So, you love political manipulations of the baldest kind, frauds perpetrated on the Jewish people, violent terrorism, and more violent terrorism, and ethnic cleansing, and constant war, and an illegal 40+ year occupation, with illegal colonisation of occupied land? And all this in the name of the Jews? In our name Bozo! That’s what you “love”? You love a place which has been so busily stealing land it’s never even had it’s borders fixed?
        Well, that makes diagnosis pretty easy. You are either a terrible anti-Semite, or suffering from late-stage Ziocaine Syndrome and, judging by your comment, in the middle of a severe episode.
        Or have you been hitting the Demerol again? Your comment sure looks intoxicated to me, positively impaired.

      • Byzantium
        December 20, 2012, 4:49 am

        I think you mean that you love your idea of Israel. If you really loved the actual Israel itself, shouldn’t you have moved there already?

      • Citizen
        December 20, 2012, 5:51 am

        @ biorabbi
        What kind of a rabbi is a “biorabbi”?
        Do you mean you are an organic jewish teacher?
        Is the key test for love that love never criticizes its object but rather smears any critic of that object? Is a very spoiled child a good being to let loose in the world?

      • Cliff
        December 20, 2012, 7:18 am

        biorabbi said:

        I love Israel. I’m Jewish. Is that OK, Sean and Annie. The great thing about this country is I can speak up to haters and I really don’t care what they think about me. I’m a physician in Arkansas. I would do anything in my power to protect America and Israel. Both are very dear to my heart. I’m deeply proud to be an American. The stench of anti-semitism has never been as strong here as in Europe which is a testament to the inherent goodness of Americans.

        No one cares whether you love Israel or not. You are not – and never will be – the target demo for truth-telling on any American foreign-policy related news item/historical discussion/etc.

        You are a cultist.

        The United States has no ‘inherent goodness’. LOL – what the **** is that supposed to mean? Sell your snake-oil to the Native Americans, African-Americans, Vietnamese, Koreans, Japanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, Haitians, Cubans, Iraqis, Afghan people, etc. etc. etc. etc.

        America is an empire. In our country, identity politics reign supreme. Your ‘identity’ is part of the Establishment. Through a combination of Christian fundamentalism, the military industrial complex, and long-standing tenets of American foreign policy – we support the Jewish colony in the ME.

        There is no ‘goodness’ because States do not have morals. States are political machines and only have interests. We support Israel due to intense lobbying by the organized Jewish community as well as Christian fundies.

        I think people like you (on the same level as the ZioBots who come to MW to announce that they will ‘continue to build’ in the OT and that Israel will be ‘forever’) make these inane pronouncements because you sincerely think we give a rat’s ass about Zionists and Zionism.

        We have principles. You have your cult. We have morals. You have your prism Zionist worldview where every human event must first past a ‘is it good for the Jews’ litmus test.

        You would never defend the United States because you are a Zionist. Zionism is meaningless to American security. In fact, it endangers America and it destabilizes the reconciliation and integration of Arabs and Muslims and other peoples of the 3rd world.

        Mainstream Jewish politics serve ONE singular purpose – that is, to prop up the Jewish colony known as ‘Israel’ and to make sure all political opponents are prevented from changing the minds of the American public on the issue.

        Your primary identifier is ‘Zionist’ – not American.

      • RoHa
        December 20, 2012, 7:43 am

        “Why would a person even insinuate they were a Rabbi if they weren’t?”

        Given your concern for Judaism, I suspect you, Mooser, of being a Rabbi in secret. Complete with beard, funny hat, and dreadlocks.

        Even worse, I suspect you of playing the saxophone as well.

      • Mooser
        December 20, 2012, 5:46 pm

        “Even worse, I suspect you of playing the saxophone as well.”

        I would shortly, I give it two measures, collapse from shortness of breath.
        I don’t have that kind of stamina. I sometimes get winded from sleeping too hard!

      • Eva Smagacz
        December 19, 2012, 6:37 pm

        Funny, I made precisely the same observation on Shmuel Rosner’s New York Times Lattitude blog, and the dog ate my comment

      • Kathleen
        December 19, 2012, 9:23 pm

        Shh no one has noticed

    • Annie Robbins
      December 19, 2012, 12:41 pm

      funny,i noticed exactly the same thing myself when i was googling around on hagel this morning. sent this to phil in an email:

      nyt scrubbing of ‘jewish leaders’ scrubbed from the headlines:

      google search nyt 10 hrs ago:

      Comments on Israel by Top Contender for Defense Secretary Are Scrutinized

      google nyt 12 hrs ago (same article, still appears in url and top of browser page):

      Chuck Hagel, Candidate for Defense Post, Criticized by Jewish …

      http://www.nytimes.com/…/chuck-hagel-candidate-for-defense-post-criticiz…
      12 hours ago – Jewish advocacy groups appear to be to pressuring the White House to think twice about nominating Chuck Hagel, officials on Capitol Hill said.

      new framing: “Several of the groups are reaching out to members of Congress”

      edit, i just realized phil had already commented. it was probably unnecessary for me to be so explicit.

      • seanmcbride
        December 19, 2012, 12:52 pm

        Annie,

        What this is all about: the Jewish lobby is trying to conceal its own existence.

        To a considerable degree, the New York Times is an arm of the Jewish lobby, and that is why most of its discussion about Mideast politics, Israel and the Israel lobby is so shallow and intellectually dishonest (laughably dishonest in this case).

        For an example of a discussion about the Chuck Hagel controversy that is smart and intellectually honest, see this article in IPS (Inter Press Service):

        “Neo-Cons, Israel Lobby Mobilise to Pre-empt Obama Pentagon Favourite”

        link to ipsnews.net

        No bullshit, no evasions, no euphemisms — just straight facts. The New York Times looks silly by comparison. It deserves to be ridiculed. Perhaps if it is ridiculed enough, it will sober up and get real.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 19, 2012, 1:18 pm

        here’s what i thinks funny. the msm carries the story of hagel’s comment being offensive “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” and then they (msm)list jewish people /orgs being intimidating (j street calls it slandering), basically proving hagel’s point. they say and list jews many self identifying as jewish.

        “steady drumbeat of criticism from Jewish”
        “several American Jewish leaders”
        “Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy organization.”
        William Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard

        “The Republican Jewish Coalition and then name jews”
        “Josh Block, the chief executive of the Israel Project ”

        you’d think they’d notice the contradiction and mention it in the articles.

      • Citizen
        December 20, 2012, 6:15 am

        @ seanmcbride
        Thanks for the link to the IPS article–I agree with your comparative assessment.

        Kudos to Jim Lobe and to IPS. No Israel Lobby stain there, eh?

      • American
        December 19, 2012, 1:00 pm

        Pass this around for people to sign….

        A WH petition to appoint Hagel….you need to create a WH account first though, which is easy and fast, to sign it.

        link to petitions.whitehouse.gov

      • Kathleen
        December 19, 2012, 9:24 pm

        American tried to access over at antiwar.com. Unable. Does someone have the link? We need to pass this around.

      • American
        December 19, 2012, 10:20 pm

        kathleen

        have no idea why the link in my comment wasn’t active…..click on my name and look for that comment, the link is active there…..meanwhile I will go to the WH page again and try to link again.

      • American
        December 19, 2012, 10:23 pm

        no use kathleen it won’t go thru……I don’t know why, have to go to anti war and try that.

  3. piotr
    December 19, 2012, 12:08 pm

    “The political reality is that . . . the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.”
    That was a dumb phrase — many Christians are pro-Israel and many Jews aren’t …

    Sure. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney got a ton of money from pro-Israel Christians, seculars and Muslim to spout about Palestinians as “fiction” (Gingrich) or inferior culture (Romney) and arrive at the opinion that the main problem of US foreign policy is if we sufficiently support Israel. Whom are we kidding?

    The two cited vocal supporters of Israel that I mention here are just examples, of course. The Lobby is so non-intimidating and cute that we are not allowed to talk about it. It reminds me an explanation why in the history of languages the names of some important animals like wolf or bear kept changing. Because of their association with religion or tribal totems pronouncing their name was taboo and descriptive expressions were used instead, until they became the standard name and the process was repeating. Thus Slavic word for bear is “honey expert” (or “honey” + “know”).

    • Philip Weiss
      December 19, 2012, 12:16 pm

      Like the folklore on the site, thank you Piotr

    • Eva Smagacz
      December 19, 2012, 6:41 pm

      Nie wiedziałam!

    • Byzantium
      December 20, 2012, 4:55 am

      And don’t forget the Democratic Party convention blithely suppressing what was clearly a majority delegate vote to leave mention of Jerusalem out of the party’s platform. A real Stalinist moment, that was.

      I take issue with the term “many Jews” though. I don’t know how things stand in the US, but my experience has been that Jewish anti-Zionism is very rare.

  4. seanmcbride
    December 19, 2012, 12:08 pm

    Over the last few months I have been gradually moving to the position that we need to have an in-depth discussion about the role of the Jewish lobby in the Israel lobby. And I think it is possible to pursue that discussion without even a hint of antisemitism.

    Yes, it is true: many pro-Israel activists are not Jews and many Jews are not pro-Israel activists, but the Jewish *establishment* — the Jewish lobby as represented by the constituent members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (and that includes AIPAC) — is by far the most important driver of the Israel lobby. Compared to the Jewish lobby — the Conference of Presidents — Christian Zionist organizations like CUFI (Christians United for Israel) are inept and not very bright amateurs.

    Jewish neoconservatives in the Republican Party and Jewish neoliberals (liberal Zionists) in the Democratic Party have been much more influential in setting the agenda for American Mideast policy than Christian Zionists. Christian Zionists have been largely regurgitating the scripts that have been written by neoconservative policy centers and think tanks.

    This issue needs to be addressed head on, with no equivocations.

    And with regard to the Jewish lobby, it is no longer possible to ignore the role of pro-Israel billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban in dictating its policies. Follow the money.

    • seanmcbride
      December 19, 2012, 1:15 pm

      More on the matter of discussing the Jewish lobby without explicit or implicit antisemitism — the challenge is to define one’s terms with precision.

      “The Jewish lobby” refers to that sector of the organized Jewish establishment that is dedicated to promoting the Israeli interest. It does not refer to the Jewish community as a whole or “the Jews” — not even close. It is comprised of a very specific set of organizations and individuals that are easy to identify — they don’t make any secret about their agenda — in fact, they are incredibly aggressive and conspicuous in promoting that agenda. (But they often become weirdly evasive, defensive, angry and abusive when their own self-stated agenda is pointed out to them.)

      Since they have pushed American foreign policy in directions that are highly destructive for Americans, it is really impossible to ignore them. They must be strongly challenged in defeated in fair political combat — with an emphasis on “fair” — no incitement, no low blows, just a focus on the plain facts. Let the best arguments win.

      • Mooser
        December 19, 2012, 3:31 pm

        “They must be strongly challenged in defeated in fair political combat — with an emphasis on “fair” — no incitement, no low blows, just a focus on the plain facts. Let the best arguments win.”

        Yup, that’s how politics works. The best arguments prevail. “Fair political combat” is the rule. How else could it be? Sean, have you ever seen a Unicorn? Wanna pet one?

    • biorabbi
      December 19, 2012, 3:43 pm

      Freedom of speech, Sean. Freedom to lobby. Freedom to critique Israel, Sean, yes, but you can skin the cat both ways. I have every right to support Israel. You can critique Sheldon for waisting millions on Newt and Romney, or Haim funding Hillary, but that’s their right. Sean, why not make a roaring success of yourself, build a casino, whatever, then fund BDS to your heart’s content. I would support your activism and spirit thought I would not agree with your positions. But that would be your business, beliefs, and money. Do with them as you please. Why whine about reality?

      • Mooser
        December 19, 2012, 10:52 pm

        Look who showed up to have a Ziocaine episode.

      • piotr
        December 20, 2012, 12:00 am

        You are free to be as dumb as a wooden log, but it does not make my opposition to you an stinking case of anti-Arborism. The whine here is not that the Lobby should not be allowed to operate, but about the legitimacy of magic formulae used to cut short public debates. As the formulae in question are a form of whining, this is a counter-whine.

        That said, I am pleased that my initial assessment — that it is next to impossible to vilify someone named Chuck — seems correct. Unlike Phil or Charlie, Chuck comes from the Heartland, raises corn and pigs, plays golf, drives a pickup truck etc.

      • Byzantium
        December 20, 2012, 4:59 am

        “…plays golf…”

        This is now a prerequisite for being a good ol’ boy? When did this happen?

      • Mooser
        December 20, 2012, 5:51 pm

        “When did this happen?”

        If my memory serves you well, it was Eisenhower (Pres.’52-’60) who started the golfing President trend.

  5. Kathleen
    December 19, 2012, 12:11 pm

    “Are all Jews advocates for Israel” The majority of Jews are advocates for Israel or have been complicit by their silence for decades. Now as you have pointed out Phil that fact is shifting but the case has been that the majority of Jews have been advocates for Israel over the decades since the birth of Israel.

    Walt “invisible and malevolent” That is changing. The “malevolence” is clearly far more visible… Thanks Phil for staying on this. Justin Raimando has a couple of interesting piece up about this topic.

    Just wondering when we will hear Chris Matthews and the rest address these attacks on Hagel the way the so called “liberal” host on MSNBC news programs covered the attacks on Rice

    Hope McCain comes out in favor of the nomination

  6. David Green
    December 19, 2012, 1:05 pm

    ““It is simply beyond disturbing to think that somebody of Chuck Hagel’s stature and significant record of national service is being slandered in this way,” Mr. Ben-Ami said.”

    “National service” is one way to describe support for empire and of the oppression and murder that that entails. Yes, Hagel’s “service” is much appreciated by JStreet, Zionist lite. But it also seems to be appreciated by many at MW, anti-imperialism fake.

    • MarkF
      December 19, 2012, 1:50 pm

      When all you have is the best of the worst, you go with it. Better than John Bolton. John McCain or Lindsay Graham, no?

    • Mooser
      December 19, 2012, 3:27 pm

      Chuck Hagel is a Republican. Maybe that shouldn’t be a final damning indictment of the man, but these days, it is.

    • ToivoS
      December 19, 2012, 7:39 pm

      “National service” is one way to describe support for empire and of the oppression and murder that that entails.

      True. If you read Stephen Walt carefully it will be clear that he too supports empire but thinks it should be pursued more ‘realistically’. However he is widely respected because he was willing to compromise his career by talking truth to power. If we refuse to back someone like Hagel (or Walt) when being attacked by ultra-right Zionists we might as well abandon politics completely.

  7. MRW
    December 19, 2012, 1:28 pm

    The NYT can curlicue and avoid it all it wants, and we can indulge in endless pilpul over who among American Jews is and is not backing Hagel (as if anyone makes that distinction outside of tribal talk, you need a directory to keep up with the non-profit Jewish groups and acronyms), but it aint gonna’ play between NY and CA.

    The word is out that Jews are calling Hagel an anti-semite for saying he puts America first. Five million active, reserve, and vet military. Fifteen leading church denominations. What a dumb move. Even NPR is adding to it. After the last election, the Republican Jewish Coalition still doesn’t get it?

  8. American
    December 19, 2012, 2:12 pm

    About those Israel supporting Christians, that is a misdirect…to deflect from the majority Jewish makeup of the Lobby. Been telling you all for a long time that the Evangels, much less the Christian Zio component, is so small as to be basically a ‘ loud mouse’ trotted out to claim Christians are for Israel. I went to trouble to take apart the US Census religious survey of 2010 and break out all the Evangel churches and one by one verify those that had a policy of Israel support…..there weren’t many.

    Well here is further evidence of that:

    link to theatlantic.com

    ”Important op-ed in The Times by a young evangelical pastor, it seems as if evangelicals represent fewer Americans than ever. I hope those Israelis who believe they can ignore the wishes of their liberal brethren (and their increasingly-former allies among non-Jewish liberals in the U.S.) read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:
    In 2012 we witnessed a collapse in American evangelicalism. The old religious right largely failed to affect the Republican primaries, much less the presidential election. Last month, Americans voted in favor of same-sex marriage in four states, while Florida voters rejected an amendment to restrict abortion.

    Much has been said about conservative Christians and their need to retool politically. But that is a smaller story, riding on the back of a larger reality: Evangelicalism as we knew it in the 20th century is disintegrating.”

    In 2011 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life polled church leaders from around the world. Evangelical ministers from the United States reported a greater loss of influence than church leaders from any other country — with some 82 percent indicating that their movement was losing ground.”

    And in another vein——I saw a comment the other day from what evidently was a pro Israel Jewish person remarking on Hagel’s saying that the Jewish Lobby intimidated people was anti semitic …….he said it should go even further and be anti semitic “to even say there is a Jewish Lobby.” I can see why non zionist Jews don’t want AIPAC referred to as the Jewish Lobby but the question is if Jewish Zionist they think there’s nothing wrong with their lobby activities why do they mind if it’s called the Jewish Lobby?

    I saw something else interesting the other day also. The President of the Navajo Indian Tribes was given a free trip to Israel by AIPAC and then all the Navajo Nation Council members issued a press release ‘condemning” him for showing support for Israel…a country that in their words…disposses natives. So the moral to that is, AIPAC can buy some individuals within certain groups but that doesn’t mean it has any support from the actual group. AIPAC can give some African American students free trips to DC for their ‘conference’ but that doesn’t mean the black community supports Israel…..it’s window dressing…..a press release to put out and something they can ‘feature’ to try and give the appearance that AIPAC and Israel has wide support among a variety of groups.
    It doesn’t. AIPAC is smoke and mirrors. It’s a paper tiger that only has the power to affect politicians and journalist and that hold can also can also be broken by not kowtowing to their slurs and censorship and calling out the politicians who do kowtow to it or any of their other political organizations.
    Anyway I am tired of pontificating on this assumption of Americans support for Israel among our population for the zionist and those who set great importance on the chrisitan zios ……. let them find out the hard way that support is a ant, not an elephant.

  9. DICKERSON3870
    December 19, 2012, 5:38 pm

    RE: “‘There is a very systematic effort going on, and these things can have an impact,’ said Jeremy Ben-Am ~ from Phil’s post above

    REGARDING “SYSTEMATIC EFFORTS”*, SEE: “Why the U.S. Media Barely Covered Brutal Right-Wing Race Riots in Tel Aviv”, By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 6/17/12

    [EXCERPTS] . . . Recently, Middle East analyst MJ Rosenberg appeared on the AlterNet Radio Hour to discuss the Tel Aviv riots, the stand-off over Iran’s
    nuclear program and how the Israel lobby helps narrow the discourse around Israel in the United States.
    Below is a lightly edited transcript of the discussion (you can listen to the whole interview here.)
    [EXCERPTS]
    • JOSHUA HOLLAND: From your inside perspective on that organization [AIPAC], what did you see as far as their tendency to call out criticism that they think is illegitimate or beyond the pale?
    • MJ ROSENBERG: They [AIPAC] consider all criticism of Israel illegitimate. It’s all beyond the pale. I suppose their definition would be if by some miracle someone like Joseph Lieberman made a statement critical of Israel it would be legitimate. When I worked there in the ’80s, back before everyone had computers, they had a big war room where all they did was assemble every bit of data on members of Congress, on candidates, but also on writers, celebrities – anyone in the public eye.
    In those days they would just put them in these folders. They always had at hand all this negative information — what they considered negative information — to tar people as being anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. That stuff would be given to reporters if something came up. They were either initiated on their own to give to reporters or some reporter called them because they had a treasure trove of information.
    They still operate that way. In those days they did it directly; now they have former staffers and people who are close to the organization in the blogging world and political world who do it for them. They do it so much. When you read that someone is anti-Israel they’re the ones putting it out there. They’ve got the data. . .

    ENTIRE (LIGHTLY EDITED) TRANSCRIPT – link to alternet.org

    * P.S. SPOKEN IN THE MANNER OF MR. ROGERS:
    “Can you say ‘night flower’? Sure you can.”

  10. Les
    December 19, 2012, 7:52 pm

    John McCain Don’ Know Nothin’ ‘Bout No Jewish Lobby Thing
    By: TBogg Tuesday December 18, 2012 2:17 pm

    Angry angry oldster John McCain was asked about supporting his old veteran and former senator buddy Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense and McCain, who once thought Caribou Barbie was qualified to be one weird mole away from the presidency, kinda sorta hedged his bet because Hagel once blood-libeled an ordinary group of American citizens who have exhibited a very strong, one might say “overwhelming singular”, affinity for a certain Middle Eastern country that rhymes with “Are you for real?”:

    Sen. John McCain said Tuesday he “strongly disagrees” with past remarks made by former Sen. Chuck Hagel, but that he would wait until potential confirmation hearings before taking a position on whether to vote for Hagel if he were nominated to become secretary of Defense.

    McCain, the outgoing top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was asked about Hagel’s onetime allusion to “the Jewish lobby.”

    “Well, of course I strongly disagree with such comments and I know of no such ‘Jewish lobby.’ I know that there’s strong support for Israel here, but I know of no Jewish lobby. I hope he would identify who that is,” McCain told reporters.

    Ooooo! Ooooo! I know this one!:

    AIPAC channels millions of dollars in campaign contributions to candidates for federal office through a network of political action committees established throughout the United States by members of AIPAC’s national board of directors.

    Here are AIPAC campaign contributions to congressmen, highest first, full list at link…
    link to maplight.org

    Top Senate Recipients Funded

    Joseph Lieberman $1,226,956
    John McCain $750,368
    Benjamin Cardin $487,572
    Mitch McConnell $415,710

    Let’s just say that, with Joe Lieberman going into lobbying retiring, coming out against Chuck Hagel should be good news for John McCain…

    link to tbogg.firedoglake.com

  11. Les
    December 19, 2012, 7:57 pm

    The Bogus Case Against Chuck Hagel
    By James Fallows

    Dec 19 2012, 1:16 AM ET

    link to theatlantic.com

  12. Les
    December 19, 2012, 8:11 pm

    Bill Kristol is Leading Chuck Hagel Swiftboating, Launches Cable Ad Campaign [Video]
    By Taylor Marsh on December 19, 2012

    link to taylormarsh.com

  13. Kathleen
    December 19, 2012, 8:24 pm

    Phil, Annie, All
    Chris Matthews did a segment on an article having to do with neocons Fred and Kimberly Kagan’s unusual access to General Petraeus in Afghanistan Matthews ask why these pushers of the Iraq invasion had such access to an Obama General when Obama etc clearly had other views on Iraq etc. Chris Matthews has quite the “let me finish” focus on this access and ask why? David Corn has a few insightful things to say about the access too “neocons great at burrowing” Think you will be interested. Over at Hardball

  14. RoHa
    December 19, 2012, 8:34 pm

    “Jews are calling Hagel an anti-semite for saying he puts America first. ”

    If that word really is out and widespread among Americans, then American Jews are in trouble.

  15. atime forpeace
    December 19, 2012, 10:37 pm

    No “Jewish Leaders” Headlines?

    link to moonofalabama.org

    The Israel Lobby and the neocons are trying to make a case against Chuck Hagel as next U.S. Secretary of Defense. The case is bogus but it reveals some of the smear tactics behind such campaigns.
    The New York Times has a piece about the non-controversy currently headlined Comments on Israel by Top Contender for Defense Secretary Are Scrutinized.

    But that is not the original headline. The much more fitting first one is readable in the URL of the piece:

    link to nytimes.com
    Indeed the voices against Hagel in that piece are from Jewish lobbying groups. Mentioned as critical of Hagel as being a not-Israel firster are “Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy organization” and “Josh Block, the chief executive of the Israel Project, a pro-Israel educational group”.
    As the piece fits well with the initial headline visible in the URL, one wonders why the editors felt a need to change it. Is it not allowed to expose “Jewish leaders” when they are trying to dictate U.S. policies?

  16. Rizla
    December 20, 2012, 2:41 am

    Bull’s eye RoHa. The US “fly-over” zone is not, in my experience, antisemitic, but this kind of stuff just doesn’t go down as easily as it used to. Things are being discussed these days that were verboten in many circles even ten years ago.

  17. atime forpeace
    December 20, 2012, 10:28 am

    thetwittering over Hagel.
    Chemi Shalev ‏@ChemiShalev
    Re Hagel nomenclature: In pc-challenged Israel, AIPAC is always referred to as the “Jewish lobby”, not the “Israel lobby”

    Retweeted by Glenn Greenwald

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