Lobby leans on Schumer to block Hagel– now that Ackerman, Berman, Frank, Weiner, Rothman and Lieberman are gone

on 41 Comments

On Meet the Press this morning, Andrea Mitchell said that Chuck Schumer is “ambivalent” about Chuck Hagel but the opposition is going to need some new information if it’s going to stop Hagel’s appointment as Defense Secretary. Neither Mitchell nor David Gregory could say what Politico says: that Schumer is “the most powerful Jewish Democrat in Congress”:

Schumer has told allies and power brokers in the Jewish community that he’s uneasy about Hagel’s nomination, a concern he reiterated at a private breakfast in Manhattan’s posh Park Avenue Winter restaurant on Wednesday.

Alana Goodman at Commentary picks up on the Jewish community theme and bewails its loss of power in Congress. Oh, and she calls the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs anti-Semitic– a baseless smear, surely having to do with the fact that it’s pro-Palestinian. Goodman:

It’s hard to overstate Schumer’s power in this debate. Pro-Israel Senate Democrats who aren’t getting much guidance on this issue from AIPAC (at least not officially) will look to Schumer for cues. This is particularly important in the case of his fellow New York Senator, Kirstin Gillibrand, whose vote on the Armed Services Committee could be the deciding factor in whether Hagel’s nomination is referred to the floor.

But If Schumer backs him, it would essentially give Hagel’s views the kosher seal of approval, letting the White House claim that any criticism of his Israel record is a faux controversy drummed up by the GOP….

Pro-Israel Democrats should ask themselves this. How did they get to a point where the leader of their party is nominating one of the most anti-Israel senators who ever walked the halls of the Capitol–a man who routinely made the anti-Semitic Washington Report of Middle East Affairs’ annual Congressional Hall of Fame list?

The party is shifting around them. The ranks of the pro-Israel Democrats in Congress are shrinking. Representatives Rothman, Frank, Berman, Ackerman, Weiner, and Senator Joe Lieberman are gone. The advocacy groups and think tanks incubating the next generation of Democratic leaders are increasingly moving against Israel.

Goodman says that young Jews ought to change their party affiliation, just like Irving Kristol sided with the Republicans over Israel back in the ’70s:

There is still a strong up-and-coming generation of pro-Israel Democrats. But they have fewer leaders to look to and fewer roles to fill in the party. If people like Schumer won’t stand up against Hagel, what message would this send to these young activists and operatives working in the trenches? That they should either change their opinions or their party affiliation?

That would clarify things. The Democratic Party will have to make room for critics of Israel.

Another good thing about the Hagel nod: all the talk of who is best for Israel is nauseating the folks on the sideline. Andrew Sullivan:

I’m struck by the following sentences in Politico today:

“Chuck Schumer is quietly letting out the word: He’s far from sold that Chuck Hagel will be a staunch advocate of Israel.”

Isn’t the job in question defense secretary of the United States? Why should an American defense secretary be required to “staunchly advocate” for the interests of another country that isn’t even in NATO? Or put it another way: can you imagine a leading Senator demanding that a defense secretary be a staunch defender of Canada?

Steve Walt said this last week:

neoconservatives and other extremists made it clear just… how much they believed that the commitment to Israel ought to trump other foreign policy priorities. And it wasn’t just the absurd claim that Hagel was anti-semitic; it was the bizarre suggestion that a key job requirement for the U.S. Secretary of Defense was a deep and passionate attachment to a foreign country.

But Jim Rutenberg in the Times says the neocons are still in the saddle, driving the debate on Hagel. He talks about the money:

In fact, the neoconservatives have done anything but disappear. In the years since the war’s messy end, the most hawkish promoters have maintained enormous sway within the Republican Party, holding leading advisory posts in both the McCain and Romney presidential campaigns as their counterparts in the “realist” wing of the party, epitomized by Mr. Powell, gravitated toward Barack Obama.

And while members of both parties think the chances are good that Mr. Hagel will win confirmation, the neoconservatives are behind some of the most aggressive efforts to derail it, through television advertisements, op-ed articles in prominent publications and pressure on Capitol Hill, where some Democrats, including Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, have also indicated reservations.

Their prominence in the fight over Mr. Hagel’s nomination is testament to their continued outsize voice in the public debate, helped by outlets like The Weekly Standard, research groups like the American Enterprise Institute and wealthy Republican financiers like the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose nearly $100 million in political donations last year were driven largely by his interest in Israel. The Republican Jewish Coalition, on whose board of directors Mr. Adelson sits, was among the first to criticize the Hagel nomination.

Of course it’s not as if the Democratic Party is anti-Zionist. It’s liberal Zionist, and there’s no criticism allowed of Israel. Not yet anyway. I keep waiting for an open conversation about the religious ideology at the heart of the mess: Zionism.

About Philip Weiss

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

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41 Responses

  1. Blownaway
    January 13, 2013, 1:03 pm

    This is the debate that should have happened around Chas Freeman…this is healthy sunshine is the great disinfectant of the germ that is this lobby. Its ironic that those who care about Israel and what is happening to it are called anti Semites and those who support its self destructive policies are considered pro Israel..

    • Krauss
      January 13, 2013, 1:42 pm

      It should have happened with Freeman, but it didn’t for reasons having to do with the climate of discussion in D.C. on these issues.

      Nonetheless, I think it is noteworthy that even back then you had quite a bit of pushback within liberal quarters. In a way that wouldn’t be the case, say, in the 1990s or the early 2000s. So we’ve seen an exponential growth in opposition to the Likudnik ‘concensus’, or lack thereof increasingly.

      I hope the Democratic grass roots get involved on these issues in 2016 and stops being a doormat for Israel and its donors.

  2. doug
    January 13, 2013, 1:17 pm

    The problem for both Israel and the neocons is they can only win a pyrrhic victory against Hagel at the cost of Israel continuing on it’s suicidal spiral and further rapid loss for USA supporters of Israel.

    It’s bizarre, insular thinking.

    • Mooser
      January 13, 2013, 3:06 pm

      “It’s bizarre, insular thinking.”

      Oh, it’s not so bad. Try this from Uri Avnery:

      “Speaking for myself, I hope that his appointment will herald a new American policy – a policy of support for a sober, rational, liberal, secular, democratic Israel, striving for peace with the Palestinian people.”

      • Don
        January 13, 2013, 6:02 pm

        Oh, it’s not so bad…

        Mooser, you are just tooo funny…

  3. Krauss
    January 13, 2013, 1:29 pm

    Her post basically confirms the reason why the realists got purged from the GOP.
    The paleo/realists called the neocons out for what they were – RINOs(Republicans In Name Only). The reason for that was simple: Israel. The second reason was also simple: Israel. And so on.

    This enraged the neocons – truth hit a bit too close to home for many of them, and so they attacked the paleos by claiming that they were anti-Semites who spread lies of dual loyalty. Notice the pattern with Hagel. It’s basically a re-run of the entire show.

    This conflict was reiterated, ever so slightly, last year in the election campaign when Erick Ericksson of Red State basically stated that Jennifer Rubin at WaPo is a faux conservative who is only in the GOP because of Israel. A profile of her in Tablet basically confirmed his claim, she was a Hollywood liberal for her entire life, pro-life, anti-gun, pro-socialized healthcare and so on. Run the gamut. But she’s an Israel Firster and the GOP is simply blowing the Dems out of the water if you’re looking for unfailing support for an Apartheid state. So she switched, but on every other issue she is not a Republican. He called her out on it. Guess three times what she did. That’s right, anti-Se…

    This is the underlying fear of Alana’s piece at Commentary. Not the Hagels, they’ve been purged effectively by the Kristol’s and co’s Stalinist campaigns.
    No, the subtle back-up they used to get from liberals. Or, if we’re precise, the silence from Gentile liberals and the helpful smearing from Jewish liberals(both in politics but especially in the media). Well, the politics well is drying up. The media is far more fractured today.

    True, the support for Israel among Jewish liberals is hardening among some, notably former IDF prison guard Jeff Goldberg. But the neocons can’t count on the subtle bigotry against ‘the WASPs’ that they used to count upon among liberals like Beinart or Remnick. Remember when Kristol sat and smiled with Ben-Ami of J Street last year when he bragged about ‘purging the WASP Arabists’? This is the common cultural reference, and the prejudices it birthed, that they neocons used to rely upon.

    Well, no more. And this she knows, so the fear runs through her piece as a red thread.

  4. piotr
    January 13, 2013, 1:34 pm

    “think tanks incubating the next generation of Democratic leaders [who] are increasingly moving against Israel”

    or how classic “Frankenstein” was re-written as “Finkelstein” (or Weiss, but that does not rhyme).

  5. Kathleen
    January 13, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Phil, Annie/all amazing discussion about John Brennan, torture program, drones etc on Up with Chris Hayes this morning. Quite a go around between Eli Lake and Amy Goodman. Amy bringing up innocents who have been killed and no one being put on trial. Eli coming back with “no they were not tried this is war” I asked over at Chris Hayes whether Eli would apply that same comment to those tried at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity.

    When Amy and the ACLU attorney bring up that the Obama administration has been quite complicit in killing innocents that are not reported about Joy Reid who I think is absolutely amazing in her generally rational thinking and comments brings up that congress is also guilty. One of those false equivalency comments. Amy comes back with who is at the inner circle of these drone killings etc. John Brennan being the guy who picks the targets. Great conversation.

    Saw Dark Night Thirty last night. Was absolutely disgusted. Promoted torture, made those who tortured out to be heroes. Marketed the false ‘they hate us for our lifestyle” instead of what former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer as well as other experts say that there is hatred towards the US based on our foreign policy. The actress was pretty but terrible up there with Angelina terrible. The CIA folks who did this torturing should be tried at the Hague but instead in the US we havle movies coming out promoting torture and those who did it. The bad actress playing the special CIA agent says to the Seals going in for OBL “kill him for me” if that is what the CIA agent really said who allegedly followed the courier what a wicked arrogant individual “kill him for me” Actress “wanted to bomb the place” another one of those arrogant disregard for collateral damage killing kind of folks.

    When the Seals go in and splatter those kids parents all over the wall and floor and tell them “its ok” and then one of the Seals hands a young girl a glo stick and the producer chooses to show the girl intrigued with the glo stick one of the most racist things I have seen in awhile. As if this little girl whose family members guts were just splattered all over the walls is going to be taken in and calmed down by a fucking glo stick was so disgusting I almost shouted out loud. Fucking racist. Then when the Seals return they talk about womens underwear as some of the stuff they confiscated from the third floor of OBL’s compound. So sexist so disrespectful. they just had massacred these folks. Disusted with this film. Horrible message to the public. Torture good, racism good.

    The one thing that the film early on did focus on which seldom gets talked about with 9/11 is the Saudi connection. Former Bush Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’neil was dumped by Cheney when he started following the terrorist money to the Saudi government. That was shut down almost immediately.

    • Les
      January 13, 2013, 3:43 pm

      Our media reminds us that torture works which is why it is okay. Think of the success in getting the Central Park 5 teenagers to confess to the attack on the jogger and made to justifiably serve terms in prison.

    • German Lefty
      January 13, 2013, 4:29 pm

      Did you watch Up with Chris Hayes until the end?
      Dave Zirin mentioned a “controversial Super Bowl ad” for SodaStream. He said that SodaStream has a “factory in an illegal settlement”.
      (at 5:50)

      This is off-topic, but please allow it: There’s a Hebrew song that I like very much. Could anyone figure out the name of the singer and the title of the song for me?

    • gingershot
      January 13, 2013, 9:27 pm

      I’d swear to god it I wasn’t Anti Theist – I think the new ‘post 911 thinking’ of Claire Danes and this ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ heroine are almost advertising/recruiting a cool hip lifestyle to our young women to get them in on this boys game of anti-Islamic crusades

  6. CitizenC
    January 13, 2013, 3:02 pm

    I keep waiting for an open conversation about the religious ideology at the heart of the mess: Zionism.

    Really Phil. a) Zionism is not a religious ideology; and b) if the left cannot manage an “open conversation”, how can it expect the mainstream to do so?

    • Philip Munger
      January 13, 2013, 6:29 pm

      Zionism is not a religious ideology

      — you’re kidding, right?

      Zionism (Hebrew: ציונות, Tsiyonut) is a form of nationalism of Jews and Jewish culture that supports a Jewish nation state in the territory defined as the Land of Israel.

      It isn’t about Islam, Christianity (per se), Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto, Hinduism, Native American Animism or worship of the Nordic Gods.

      If we were dealing instead with “a form of nationalism of Zoroastrians and Zoroastrian culture that supports a Zoroastrian nation state in the territory defined as the Land of Mazdastan,” would that also not be religious?

      • John Merryman
        January 13, 2013, 10:12 pm

        Religion is vision. Government is management. They intersect frequently, but come from opposite sides of the brain.
        The problem with monotheism in the first place is that a spiritual absolute would be the source from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. Keep in mind it was the polytheists who first formalized democracy. When the religion has gods arguing, government reflects this. Historically monotheism mostly just validates monarchy and other forms of top down authority.
        That Israel unmoored is spinning into a vortex is more physics than sociology. In most other religions, being the “Chosen” is not always a good thing. Jews have spent thousands of years living a Greek Tragedy. Maybe they should take some of the lessons to heart.

      • aiman
        January 17, 2013, 11:10 am

        Zionism is the golden calf, not the monotheist God. And the monotheist God is not a tribal god or “the God of Israel” (that would make it close to paganism), but of everyone. Perhaps those who have no understanding of monotheism should limit their critiques to tribal monotheism. I wouldn’t call the Zionist conception of God as monotheist, only universal, humanist souls understand monotheism.

        Even Gandhi was inspired by true monotheism, other great minds like Tolstoi and Abduh. You also forget that there were monotheist Greek philosophers who resisted the idols of the state.

    • Bumblebye
      January 13, 2013, 6:43 pm

      But CitizenC, we’ve had commenters on here claiming exactly that!
      “Zionism is just like any other religion.”
      Commenter “Ori” came, and commenter “Ori” went.

  7. just
    January 13, 2013, 3:08 pm

    It is past time to disempower Schumer, et al.

    Enough is enough.

    • Kathleen
      January 14, 2013, 6:00 am

      “disempower” not going to happen. Expose that he has Israel’s interest in the drivers seat instead of the US national security interest will be exposed in this process once and for all. In the public eye he is saying that he has “reservations about Hagel” and there can be no doubts he is doing everything possible behind the scenes to take Hagel down.

      Let’s hope that the Governor of Mass does not select Barney Frank who self selected. He is the definition of “liberal” Zionist. Total contradiction. Pro what ever Israel does even though they seem to be on a path of self destruction.

  8. jaime1007
    January 13, 2013, 3:18 pm

    Finally you nail it down: ” I keep waiting for an open conversation about the religious ideology at the heart of the mess: Zionism”.
    Only, that by contradistinction, you need to deal with NETUREI KARTA http://www.nkusa.org/
    who are Anti- Zionist and religious Jews

  9. Ramzi Jaber
    January 13, 2013, 3:31 pm

    Schumer takes direct orders from Nut’nYahoo! The Press must ask him: Is your loyalty with Israel or the USA? That is the only question that matters. This is not about Hagel but about Israel where aipac/neocons/zionists want to make sure key Cabinet members are in their pocket. Shame on you Schumer and MSM!

  10. ritzl
    January 13, 2013, 3:59 pm

    PW: “Goodman says that young Jews ought to change their party affiliation, just like Irving Kristol sided with the Republicans over Israel back in the ’70s: …”

    As you say, “clarifying.” These people are so full of themselves that they don’t realize what they’re advocating. Yes. Urge the militant, IROW types to gravitate to the Rs. Give us a votable choice on this issue. Give the Dems the opportunity to nourish and grow their (however nascent at the moment) principles on human rights to create some political space there. See what happens politically with a country that is fed up with war and the singular pursuit of war for another little country in the ME. Just do it already. Maybe Aaron David Miller’s “paper tiger” characterization of the Lobby would get a test.

    Speaking of ADM, a quibble. I don’t think that Sullivan is “on the sidelines” at all. I think he, like you, is very much at the sharp end of the pin.

  11. Ramzi Jaber
    January 13, 2013, 4:00 pm

    Haaretz is referring the Powell’s statement… “Hagel is a very strong supporter of Israel”.

    Colin Powell defends Hagel nomination, says he is ‘strong supporter’ of Israel http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/colin-powell-defends-hagel-nomination-says-he-is-strong-supporter-of-israel.premium-1.493761

    The boxing of Hagel and his supporters to come out in strong defence and support of Israel continues to succeed. A brilliant strategy orchestrated by aipac/likud/zionists/neocons to guarantee a pro-israel stand. Accuse them of anti-semitism and insufficient obedience to israel and they are forced to over-compensate and declare their unshakeable allegiance to aipac. Brilliant…….

  12. atime forpeace
    January 13, 2013, 4:32 pm

    Will this eventually lead Americans to start asking the famous Jewish question of yesteryear?

    If the neocons have their way in our political system I fear this question will once again be revived.

    There is a tide in the affairs of men.
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.

  13. Citizen
    January 13, 2013, 4:55 pm

    What’s amazing to me is the average Americans in my circle never even blink an eye when people like Bill Kristol attack Hague as not suitable for the USA’s Defense top cabinet slot because he puts USA priority of interests over Israel’s. He loves America more than Israel. Do we have a new type of patriotism?

    • just
      January 13, 2013, 5:59 pm

      One can only hope.

    • American
      January 13, 2013, 10:42 pm

      @ Citizen

      Really? The buzz around here is just the opposite. Could be because we have a large military flavor here and they are all for Hagel.

      Am watching c-span rerun from this am talking about Hagel…Steve Clemons–Gary Schmitt from AEI on as guest……and when Israel was brought up a caller called in and basically said WTF is this Israel crap and why should Israel have anything to do with the US Sec of Defense….LOL

      • Kathleen
        January 14, 2013, 6:06 am

        More and more callers who question the relationship between Israel and the US getting through on Washington Journal. Tens of millions of people are listening. For awhile host were cutting people off the minute they said Israel as if it was a swear word. (more than likely due to the pressure Camera’s C-span watch was trying to apply) Less of that happening. People making some well informed comments and then you get a few REAL anti Jewish individuals who they rightfully cut off rather quickly.

      • Citizen
        January 14, 2013, 10:05 am

        @ Kathleen

        When the caller American refers to called in, he was only allowed maybe 20 seconds to state his case, when the host moved on ASAP to the next caller whom the host dwelled on, referring what that caller said to the guest for a response–something the host did not do with the caller American referred to….

  14. German Lefty
    January 13, 2013, 5:52 pm

    Oh no, I can’t believe it. Yet another German is accused of being anti-Semitic. I just heard on TV that rapper Bushido published this “Free Palestine” picture (map without Israel) on Twitter:
    The German Interior Minister stated that this picture “stirs up hatred” and “must be deleted immediately”.

    • sardelapasti
      January 13, 2013, 6:54 pm

      German Lefty:
      “German Interior Minister”…[map on the Internet] “must be deleted immediately”.
      Reichsminister of the 40’s, judging by the language. Dr. G. redivivus.

  15. Blank State
    January 13, 2013, 6:00 pm

    “Do we have a new type of patriotism?”

    No. We have a media that promotes and nurtures ignorance as a substitute for actual knowledge.

    Today, support for Israel IS patriotism in the mind of the masses. If nothing else, that evil little racist spit of sand has a great marketing team, both in the media, and in Congress.

  16. Les
    January 13, 2013, 7:14 pm

    Does Schumer seriously believe that his constituents agree with him and, presumably, his synagogue congregants, that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is a good thing?

    • Citizen
      January 14, 2013, 10:08 am

      According to this ivy league Jewish article, “the vast majority of Jews” in America have been against Hagel since his name was first made public as a possible nominee: http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/01/14/opinion-hagel-nomination-sends-chilling-signal-about-obamas-second-term/

      No polls are cited.

    • Ellen
      January 14, 2013, 11:51 am

      Before there was a concept of State, there were tribes and clans. Loyalty to the idea of a tribe reigns. Schumer believes what he and the rest of the tribe is told to believe. That is sadly how most (but not all) people operate.

      They (We) think what we are told to think. And if it is wrapped in the pressures of tribal loyalty, no questions asked.

      So I guess he really does believe it because he wants to believe it. A primal matter of survival.

  17. dbroncos
    January 14, 2013, 12:26 am

    NYT is reporting that Hagel will report to Schumer on bended knee seeking support for for his nomination. Stakes are high for Schumer too as breaking with Obama over Hagel’s nomination will put his priorities, and those of the Israel Firsters, in a bright spotlight. Hagel should tell Schumer where to go and challenge him to make a bigger public spectacle out of the the demands that a foreign country is making of our would be US Secretary of Defense.

  18. seafoid
    January 14, 2013, 9:30 am

    Not sure about this adulation of Hagel. What will you say if he leads the US to war in Iran?


    • Ellen
      January 14, 2013, 11:54 am

      Don’t think it is adulation of Hagel, per se, but rather disgust at dishonest character assassinations for foreign ethnic nationalist agendas.

      • seafoid
        January 14, 2013, 3:18 pm

        It may be a choice between foreign ethnic nationalist agendas and domestic corporate warwongering. A bit like Poland’s choice in 1940 between Nazism and Stalinism.

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