In choosing Hagel, an antiwar president gets backup from the new Israel lobby

on 64 Comments

When Obama nominated Chuck Hagel Monday, I was jubilant for one reason: The military option is off the table, we will not attack Iran.

Obama’s speech endorsing Hagel was defiant and anti-war. His face was mottled, in a way I’ve never seen it before, a signal of age or passion. He paused for emphasis as he spoke of the young people bleeding in the dirt and the mud when we go to war and said Hagel would be on their side. He detailed Hagel’s Vietnam War injuries and the injuries to his brother Tom – events leading to Hagel’s famous Vietnam epiphany, his vow in the helicopter that if he got out of here, he would dedicate his life to making sure this never happened again.

So Obama and Hagel are committed, we will not attack Iran. This was the silent victory of the last election. Obama defied the Israel lobby over its “loose talk” about  attacking Iran, and though Netanyahu and the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition tried to push Jewish voters to vote for Romney for a strike on Iran, Obama held an overwhelming percentage of the Jewish vote, and– because establishment Jewish opinion re the Middle East is ultimately determinative of US policy– he can govern as an antiwar president. As for Hagel, five years ago he told a liberal Zionist group that that we need to make a “security gift” to Iran and open a special interest section of our embassy in Tehran. He’s going to have to walk that back at the confirmation hearing; but the military option is off the table.

I was surprised Obama had the guts to nominate Hagel, because Hagel is the antithesis of the Israel lobby in our politics. Indeed, I think his nomination represents a power slide by the lobby. It is now split, and the right wing side is losing power by the minute. The Hagel nomination is a neoconservative bloodbath. Because they supported the Iraq war disaster, because they support Netanyahu who our liberal media have turned on. When David Frum said that Chuck Hagel was qualified to serve in the State Department’s Near East Affairs bureau, it was an ethnic crack. He was saying, Hagel is an isolationist and an “Arabist,” of the sort Bill Kristol thought he had successfully purged from the Republian Party. Hagel does seem like a throwback to the James Baker realist school. He doesn’t seem like a philo-Semite. He’s a midwestern Catholic, not particularly sophisticated. [Update, Hagel’s biographer states he was raised Catholic, and is now Episcopalian]

Yet a large portion of the Israel lobby will embrace him. Why are liberal Zionists from Peace Now to J Street to Peter Beinart embracing Hagel? What does this mean for the lobby? Liberal Zionists are supporting Hagel because they know that the traditional Israel lobby, or Status Quo Lobby, has helped to destroy Israel. Peter Beinart, who spoke on behalf of Hagel on NPR yesterday morning and on Chris Matthews last night, wrote a book saying as much: the only way to save the Jewish state is to oppose the rightwing pro-Israel groups in the United States who have allowed Israel to devour the West Bank.

The Matthews segment was a neocon-bash (conveniently ignoring the fact that Beinart had supported the Iraq war), though Matthews announced that he and Beinart and Sam Stein of Huffpo were all prepared to have a war with Iran if we have to, but whatever does that mean? It was chaff. Liberal Zionists will even accept a policy of deterrence—Iran with nukes—if they can only get a two-state solution. And I imagine that Obama in his typical cool way has sent the liberal Zionists signals that he is going to push for two states, or let Europe take the lead, once the next rightwing coalition takes power in Israel and seeks to annex Area C.

The rightwing side of the Israel lobby fears Hagel, and calls him an anti-Semite, but it does not look as if they will go after him. The Forward reports that the major Jewish orgs are going to “relent” on Hagel, that AIPAC will sit on the sidelines because it can’t win and wants to stay on the Defense Secretary’s rolodex.  In the Forward piece, Abe Foxman’s statements are shocking. Yes he said before that Hagel’s views border on being anti-Semitic, but “In the world we live in, one cannot be nuanced.” And now that Hagel’s been nominated, it’s a “different reality.” I.e., we’ll smear you to keep you out. But once you’re in, we’ll defer to power. Still, the American Jewish Committee might campaign against Hagel, and AIPAC’s neoconservative surrogates are still on the trail. Dan Senor, leader of AIPAC’s new technology division, is slamming Hagel. So is Josh Block, the former AIPAC spokesman to whom AIPAC sometimes directs journalists for answers. If the attacks start to draw blood… if someone from the Nebraska Jewish community who Elliott Abrams suggested darkly were dismissed by Hagel when he was senator comes forward with some allegation… well, it’s a whole new ballgame.

For now, though, the neoconservative attacks have only further marginalized the neocons, and Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain will represent an embittered hawkish minority of the Senate. Under pressure from MSNBC, I bet that Chuck Schumer will come on board for Hagel, though he will seek assurances on Iran policy. And Obama will be vague enough about the military option that both Schumer and the anti-war realists will claim they are satisfied.

These are the most important political developments in the Hagel appointment: the solidification of a new J Street-style Israel lobby that wants Obama to push for a two-state solution against Netanyahu, and the acceptance that old-school realists like Hagel are “stakeholders” in our Middle East policy, i.e., they get to have a voice.

You can see the lineaments of the new Israel lobby in the coalition rallying behind Hagel. They act as if Hagel is the greatest thing that ever happened to Israel. Instead of using this moment to try and educate Americans about the occupation and its evils and how much worse those conditions are than Jim Crow, Democrats are jumping over one another to say Hagel loves Israel. Israel-adorer Richard Cohen in the Washington Post had no problem with Hagel: “He could be the necessary corrective to the Netanyahu government’s expectation that anything Israel wants from Washington it’s entitled to get. Nothing Hagel has said about Israel is not said in the Israeli press on a daily basis.” Chris Matthews said the same thing last night: people can say in Israel what Hagel says and get away with it. Oh and Matthews loves Shimon Peres, he said. The night before he said that he has been to Israel many times.

Yousef Munayyer offers  savage insight into the lobby’s reformation. He says that the emergence of J Street was quickly balanced by the emergence of the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI). So AIPAC can offer itself as the middle way. The liberals frame their support for Hagel as he’s a “true friend” to Israel

because he’d offer some tough love to a state hell-bent on suicide-by-settlements… But this is only a “semblance of debate… on a fully Zionist spectrum from the J Street end to the ECI end.

I’m going to hold my nose for this stuff, and hope for a real argument. I want Elliott Abrams to say why he thinks Hagel is anti-Israel, and have Chris Matthews say, what does it matter, he’s an American! I want Hagel himself to explain why he said he’s not a Senator from Israel. I want Kristol and Abrams and Foxman to have to defend the allegation that Hagel is anti-Semitic. I want Steve Walt on television making this important argument:

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. 

Right, when did philo-semitism become dual loyalty? I’d like to hear Hagel bust loose and talk about Palestinian humiliation. I bet that he is like the Republicans of the first Bush presidency, who slammed Israel for its settlement policies, and then lost the White House in part because of that stance.

After Bush came Clinton and Bush the younger, and David Frum exulted that these were “philosemitic” presidencies. The White House was full of neoconservatives. And the neoconservatives brought the Iraq war, because, as Matthews said last night, echoing Walt and Mearsheimer but giving them no credit, the neoconservatives thought the Iraq war would bring peace to Israel and Palestine—the road to Jerusalem went through Baghdad! Though when Matthews and Stein and Beinart later sought to explain Bill Kristol’s power, they said it was because he is charming. Not a word about the pro-Israel money, from Saban to Adelson, that was the brass ring of the presidential campaigns last summer. 

The liberal Zionists’ support for Hagel represents a real cession of power to realists, an understanding that interventionism is not the answer. This makes me jubilant. If there’s one thing this battle has already demonstrated, it’s how primitive the American conversation about Israel is, neocons who say it’s anti-semitic to criticize Israel versus liberals who say that Shimon Peres is a god. No one’s allowed to say Israel’s an apartheid state that’s delegitimizing itself more and more every day. But make no mistake, the Hagel nomination is a step toward bringing that conversation into Washington.

Update: I removed my comment about Hagel’s son being named Ziller and going to a Catholic university as stupid and offensive. Apologies.

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64 Responses

  1. doug
    January 9, 2013, 10:54 am

    This was my thinking as well. Laura Rozen’s current articles in the Forward and al-Monitor pretty much reflect the division.

    There is no way this would have happened without major portions of the Lobby breaking with the neocons. If this helps open up a more balanced discussion, great. I’m not optimistic but I was wrong here and believed the neocons had more power than they did. But then the neocons believed they had more power than they did. All good.

    • American
      January 9, 2013, 1:56 pm

      “There is no way this would have happened without major portions of the Lobby breaking with the neocons.”…doug

      IMO the actual lobby, as in ‘The Lobby’, hasn’t broken with the neo cons…..probably never will…they are hard core.
      The lesser influencers, the more dovish pro-I wings gave some support to O & Hagel once the fight broke out.
      But I don’t think the I- lobby hawks or doves influenced O on Hagel at all.
      Looking back now at how this unfolded I think O’s nomination of Hagel was a done deal from the day Hagel name’s was out there and O just let it all play out.

      Along the way in the Hagel attack it brought out a lot of experts and luminaries to side with H & O on a different US ‘posture” re US defense, war and peace and etc..

      • Annie Robbins
        January 9, 2013, 2:21 pm

        Looking back now at how this unfolded I think O’s nomination of Hagel was a done deal from the day Hagel name’s was out there and O just let it all play out.

        that was my hunch from day 1. he wouldn’t have put him out there just to pull him back. and he waited so all the crap he must have known would be flung about had plenty of time to land. he waited til all was said and done and now everything they can throw at him looks old/tired and reeks of grudge. obama played it perfect on this call.

      • American
        January 9, 2013, 7:37 pm

        annie…..well you were right I think……I was back and forth…once burned twice shy type of thing.
        But then like you I couldn’t figure putting up Hagel’s name ( O knew what would come down on Hagel) if he hadn’t decided to go with him.

      • W.Jones
        January 9, 2013, 9:48 pm

        I don’t know. If different interest groups like J Street and liberal Zionists had opposed Hagel, or maybe even not supported him, Obama might have not nominated him and things might have turned out like with Chas Freeman. So one needn’t ascribe so much to Obama’s wise foresight, as to an arrangement of forces, although POTUS could have had some good foresight anyway.

      • doug
        January 9, 2013, 4:10 pm

        I think it was well played. Just getting Hagel nominated is helpful and all the trash talk preceding it stimulated an immune response from those increasingly irritated at the blackmail and smears. From Laura’s article:

        >>”The Obama administration knows that the Hagel nomination “is like picking up a rock and discovering all the nasties underneath,” a Democratic source close to the administration told me on condition of anonymity. The administration “may not have wanted to have a fight at the outset, but I think at least some want to have this fight now, to shine a light on some really awful, blackmail-style politics. They are sick of these groups boxing them in and want a public fight to expose them and hopefully put them in their place.””

        Read more:

      • Krauss
        January 9, 2013, 4:57 pm

        Yes, the debate has delegitimized the neocons, and Obama pushed for it with his pick. I think it was deliberate.

        Now the question is, as the far right gains currency in Israel, and Bibi is likely to do whatever he always does, join a coalition with the far-right(because they all worked for him, with him or under him at some point), and the settlement expansion is furthered, what will the response be of the Hagel-praisers from the ‘liberal’ Zionist corner?

        They broke with the neocons, but now what? The break with the neocons had to happen irregardless. The next break is the lock-step support for Zionism that is acting like a strangehold over the entire debate. That will be tougher, but it will be a debate which is inevitable as Israel slides down the far-right path further down the drain in the coming years ahead.

  2. Dan Crowther
    January 9, 2013, 11:21 am

    “an anti-War president” — what a preposterous claim by Phil!! Shameful. Just plain shameful.

    “The US launched up to four separate drone strikes in the tribal regions of Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 25 people, according to some reports.”

    • joemowrey
      January 9, 2013, 3:21 pm

      I have to agree with Dan Crowther. and I’m not usually one to use the “S” word. But it is indeed shameful to refer to Barack Obama in any context as “anti-War.” He is currently waging more direct and proxy wars around the globe than any previous president in U.S. history. Every Tuesday, he gets together with a gang of murderous thugs to decide who they will assassinate this week. Oh, and though it kind of flew under the radar, Obama’s “Kill List” is now officially named the “Disposition Matrix.” No, I’m not making this up. Google it if you don’t believe me. That’s Orwellian enough to qualify as the perfect compliment to Phil’s suggestion that Obama is an anti-war president. Take it back, Phil! It tarnishes what is otherwise a very intelligent analysis (albeit, one I don’t completely agree with).

  3. Ramzi Jaber
    January 9, 2013, 11:27 am

    Great piece, Phil!

    I still remain very skeptical though. AIPAC is very smart and strategic. They saw this is a fight they cannot win so they opted for Plan B to ensure their influence.

    I still believe the game now is to BOX Sen. Hagel as anti-Israel and anti-Semite so he is FORCED to OVER-COMPENSATE, culminating in his UNEQUIVOCAL, UNSHAKEABLE support for Israel. That’s what they did to Pres. O. I hope I’m wrong.

    • American
      January 9, 2013, 1:30 pm

      “… he is FORCED to OVER-COMPENSATE, culminating in his UNEQUIVOCAL, UNSHAKEABLE support for Israel. ”….Ramzi

      Agree, I think that is the strategy now that they’ve lost the nomination battle.
      Doesn’t mean they can force him to actually ‘be’ pro Israel….but they think if they can force him into proclaiming his pro israeliness –that it will be be a “lesson” to congress critters that the Lobby is still in control of them.

      I think in the questioning Hagel will say he supports Israel….as in it’s right to defend itself, exist, blah,blah…but I dont think he will go much beyond that. I think the I-Firsters will try to push or trap him on attacking Iran to protect Israel…I think he will hedge on that and talk about US interest, over all Israel interest–as in what Israel’s interest ‘should be’—–and over all ramifications.

      Watch and take names…lol

    • Annie Robbins
      January 9, 2013, 2:27 pm

      I still believe the game now is to BOX Sen. Hagel as anti-Israel and anti-Semite so he is FORCED to OVER-COMPENSATE, culminating in his UNEQUIVOCAL, UNSHAKEABLE support for Israel. That’s what they did to Pres. O.

      they can’t box him in. he’s not in a corner. unlike obama (then) there’s no election looming where the funds will dry up if he doesn’t succumb. to box someone in you need pressure from all sides against a wall. there’s no wall. no corner. it doesn’t exist. the looming election was always obama’s corner before. it’s gone now.

  4. John Smithson
    January 9, 2013, 11:35 am

    “He’s a midwestern Catholic, not particularly sophisticated.”

    Excuse me – what exactly is that supposed to mean?

    • Dan Crowther
      January 9, 2013, 12:10 pm

      Phil was saying that was what Davey Frum was inferring.

      • John Smithson
        January 9, 2013, 12:24 pm

        And just what exactly was Davey Frum inferring?

        Actually – I don’t think it was still part of what Frum was saying – it was a comment from Phil as I read the paragraph.

        Again I ask Phil – what exactly is that supposed to mean?

      • Dan Crowther
        January 9, 2013, 12:37 pm

        Frum was inferring midwestern catholics aren’t very sophisticated. I don’t know John, I think you’re reading it wrong.

      • Citizen
        January 9, 2013, 2:37 pm

        There’s no clear line between Frum’s characterization of Hagel and Phil’s–due to Phil’s own writing. I think both would agree with what Phil actually wrote here. It’s an interesting application of the word “sophisticated” in this context. I think in some ways Hagel is more sophisticated than either Frum or Phil. Phil’s writing depends on a particular view of the Midwest generally, and also of Catholics, generally.

      • John Smithson
        January 9, 2013, 2:56 pm

        No I don’t see how I am reading it wrong. But whatever anyway.

        I don’t see how that judgement is germane to the article and I find it offensive/supercilious/ethnocentric/anti-gentilic/etc…


        Quote: When David Frum said that Chuck Hagel was qualified to serve in the State Department’s Near East Affairs bureau, it was an ethnic crack. He was saying, Hagel is an isolationist and an “Arabist,” of the sort Bill Kristol thought he had successfully purged from the Republian Party. (end of Frum’s thoughts). (Beginning of Phil’s thoughts) Hagel does seem like a throwback to the James Baker realist school. He doesn’t seem like a philo-Semite. He’s a midwestern Catholic, not particularly sophisticated.

        Can you help us Phil? How about a little respect for us midwestern Catholics?

        And what is this about? Update: I removed my comment about Hagel’s son being named Ziller and going to a Catholic university as stupid and offensive. Apologies.

        So calling midwestern Catholics unsophisticated isn’t stupid and offensive?

      • Mooser
        January 9, 2013, 4:31 pm

        So now the Jewish community can split over supporting Israel’s almost certainly suicidal settlement gamble, or simply supporting the consolidation and validation of Zionism’s crimes as “two states”. Has anybody breathalysed our core drivers lately?

      • iamuglow
        January 9, 2013, 4:55 pm

        I read it the same way you did. It stands out as Phil saying it and is distracting.

        There is this at the end…

        “Update: I removed my comment about Hagel’s son being named Ziller and going to a Catholic university as stupid and offensive. Apologies.”

        Maybe Phil didn’t remove enough.

      • Chu
        January 9, 2013, 12:53 pm

        I afraid to even wonder about why your man Weiss removed his offesive comment about Hagel’s son.

        But read it again, Dan, you’re wrong. It’s Phil’s ethocentric attitude, the one he tries to dispel for his audience. Hagel’s a corn-husker goy, but it’s good because we need antiwar people on Obama’s side. If he were smart he’d be a cunning neocon.

      • RoHa
        January 9, 2013, 8:26 pm

        Inferring or implying?

    • marc b.
      January 9, 2013, 1:02 pm

      i read it as weiss’s comment also, john. he can say otherwise if he wishes, but it fits perfectly with his liberal, bespectacled, menschy, ‘aw shucks’ racism, at least as on display here. but maybe i’m being too sensitive given my nominal catholicism. that, and my middle name is ‘Ziller’. what, did weiss disappear that bit about hagel’s son’s name as evidence of his lack of sophistication? even he couldn’t stand the smell of that remark once he saw it published, apparently.

    • Ellen
      January 10, 2013, 6:29 am

      Interesting….that comment really stuck out. It came across as stupid, weak thought.

      Not only because comments exactly like this, and variants of it are also found in anti-Hagel commentary, but because it reveals a lack of sophistication and inability to think beyond simplistic labels. It shows a need for boxes and their labels to understand and navigate the world. An crude crutch when you can’t think beyond, or have no real understanding anyway.

      Symbolic labels are mostly filled pre-packaged associations and prejudices. So they are pinned onto people and groups by writers/speakers (Phil in this case) to create an association in the mind of the reader. Here the writer goes even further and does the thinking for the reader, should the reader be on a different wave length and fail to make the same association meant by the writer/speaker.

      Here we have it: Midwestern + Catholic = unsophisticated.

      Lest we forget, unsophisticated = simple, lack of complexity, ill-informed, limited horizons and understanding, and maybe even ignorant.

      This because they are from a particular region of the world and identify with the Catholic religion.

      Go figure.

      • marc b.
        January 10, 2013, 8:48 am

        that comment really stuck out. It came across as stupid, weak thought.

        you mean it lacks sophistication. so some might accuse weiss of projection then, if you believe in that sort of thing. much too complex a concept for me to sort through though, being catholic and born in the midwest. looking back on it, i suppose i never really overcame the trauma, intellectually speaking, of being delivered by a goyishe doctor, acres of corn only miles away. probably cost me at least 10, 15 IQ points right there.

      • just
        January 10, 2013, 10:05 am

        I have read that he is actually an Episcopalian…..

      • American
        January 10, 2013, 11:38 am

        Darn, I missed the fight over Phil’s or Frum’s nerdy intellectualism (no offense vr the less sophisticated.

        Hagel, Catholics, heartlanders, etc are unsophisticated as compared to what or who? Are we talking as compared to the Lobby operatives and the ZioCons or Jewish intellectuals?

        Actually I find the zio/jewish Israeli brigades to be somewhat unsophisticated in most everything and I think it’s because they are soooo narcissistic and dismissive of others mental ability that it’s impossible for them to consider how others think or what is in other people heads . We’re the enemy and yet they dont’ understand some of the finer points of what makes us tick or would get us ticking. Very unsophisticated approach to controlling us…….as we see by their huge miscalculation on the responses to their Hagel attack.

  5. eGuard
    January 9, 2013, 11:35 am

    Indeed, let’s define it this way: liberal Zionists want to save Israel from, eh, other Zionists.

    Now that will make any Palestinian happy.

    • eGuard
      January 9, 2013, 6:16 pm

      So the only problem we have is smears of anti-Semitism, Iran war threat, neocons power, and a rightwing Israeli govt. Once these are gone or neutralised, Israel is saved. Be jubilant! Make way for the New Israel Lobby! (Tony Blair could have thought of that).

      Phil, you spent only half a word on Palestinians. But this New Israel and its Lobby will be the same: racist, apartheid, no statehood for Palestinians, no RoR or compensation, no equality, no peace. What changes did your New Isreal Lobby promise? (really, J-Street is OK now?). What did Beinart promise to the Palestinians, or to anyone else for that matter? Pre-1967 apartheid. Great.

  6. stopaipac
    January 9, 2013, 12:13 pm

    antiwar President????? my god, phil… wishful thinking is one thing, but delusion is another. and could it be that the reason the Israel Lobby (J Street portion thereof) is endorsing Chuck is because he poses no real threat to the status quo? I think they know the zionist project will be unimpeded by Obama/Hagel. and the US war machine will be unhindered as well. the US will continue to be a terror to most of the world’s inhabitants.

  7. Philip Munger
    January 9, 2013, 12:35 pm

    As observed above, the headline’s characterization of Obama as “antiwar” is irksome, especially when one views it on Mondoweiss’ home page, being right above Medea Benjamin’s excellent article’s headline, “John Brennan, assassin.”

    I guess, Phil Weiss’ headline expresses hope, Medea Benjamin’s reflects reality.

  8. MarkF
    January 9, 2013, 12:39 pm

    Phil, the other night I saw a segment on “The Last Word” that essentially claims that the neoconservatives have lost power with the nomination of Hagel. Not sure if it was done on purpose, but they had Ezra Klein subbing for Lawrence O’Donnell. I was pretty amazed by his statements about the neocons, saying something along the lines that the neoconservatives’ grip on foreign policy is “truly, finally” over. You have to see it. Klein fingers them and hits them hard as a rock.

    Maddow and the others did not/can not do this. Check it out, I think you’ll like it. Best thing I’ve seen on there in a while.

    • Kathleen
      January 9, 2013, 3:04 pm

      Of course the selective human rights phony Maddow could do this but chooses not to. And Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed, Al Sharpton all steer clear of this critical issue. You know those liberals. Chris Hayes has opened the door on being able to tell the truth about these issues. Well really on MSNBC it was Dylan Ratigan and Cenk Uygar who had been slowly going there. I like Ezra Klein a great deal. This would be a first for him going into these weeds. Good for him

    • Krauss
      January 9, 2013, 5:03 pm

      It’s also an interesting moment for what can be called ‘mainstream progressivism’ which MSNBC represents. They’ve avoided the Israel issue for so long, and Maddow was the front face for that. It wasn’t just them. People got banned a year ago from the Daily Kos for even mentioning the Israel lobby. Now half the threads are about AIPAC and the words Israel lobby fly off all the time.

      Matthews, who is still queasy about these things, proclaims to love Shimon Peres and he ignores the vast amounts of donor money as Phil points out. Kristol may be a good networker but that isn’t the only reason why, or even the main reason, why he has traction.

      I’m guessing that MSNBC will stick to its J Street-style position, but remain firmly in the ‘liberal’ Zionist camp. We will one day marvel at how one kind of ethnic and aggressive nationalism got a pass from the ‘progressive’ media, because its effects were carried out against people outside of America, than any other kind of violent nationalism.

      But that today is still not with us, and won’t be, for quite some time. Still, the evolution over just the last year among the so-called ‘mainstream progressive media’ is stunning.

    • gingershot
      January 9, 2013, 6:02 pm

      It’s just so amazing to me to hear Klein saying the neocons’ nearly absolute powers in determining American foreign policies and war-making are now… finally … over.

      After all, Klein himself has been such a tireless warrior against these neocons all these years – a real voice in the wilderness. All his hard work in exposing these neocons to the American public and taking the heat – it must truly feel like almost a personal victory and vindication.


      It’s amazing to see all these talking heads, now that they have gotten permission from Mommy where they are forced to talk about it, actually mention the fact that the never-before-mentioned ‘Israeli Lobby’ EVER had any power at all, for all these years.

      These media wh*res are the biggest part of the problem, only slightly worse than the neocons themselves.

      Glenn Greenwald, Mearsheimer/Walt, Ron Paul, Kucinich and a few others head a very short list of pioneers who tried to do something about it and had their careers smeared and attacked by these fascists for their efforts.

      I am ambivalent in that as much as I am delighted to actually hear ‘neocons’ and ‘Israeli Lobby’ making it all the way out of my TV box and into my living room – simultaneously I can barely stand to listen to these talking heads discuss it, as if they have not been such an enormous part of the problem all along.

      The feigned ignorance for all these years and now they act like they knew it all along and are able to discuss it without the slightest reservations.

      Thanks for nothing ‘journalists of America’

      • MarkF
        January 10, 2013, 10:11 am

        I know, I know, the media is late to the game and they’ve been derelict in their duties, but they played and continue to play the game by the rules, and slowly the rules are changing. Ezra’s a young dude, and if he had not played by the rules, there would have been zero chance of him airing that segment.

        I honestly think it was a pretty important segment. I don’t think the neocons are going to be run out of town because there’s too much influence money propping them up, but they’re no longer teflon, and that’s a start. Now if only Fox News can host a conservative version of Klein that can hammer the neocons from the right without the baggage of a Paul or a Buchanan. After all, the neocons were fine with a tax hike, so long as they can still have their “muscular” foreign policy.

  9. W.Jones
    January 9, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Yeah, I think you had a good analysis, Phil. There are conservative American nationalists who oppose the US having lots of wars overseas, but it isn’t because they necessarily have socialist policies domestically, it’s because they know having the US bogged down financially and militarily in the mideast weakens it alot.

    Likewise, running an occupation is also costly for the Israeli state in some big ways that are not necessarily financial. Chomsky explained to Israeli TV he is a supporter of the State with a personal connection to it and speaks out especially because its militaristic policies hurt the State. Why would the State’s less-radical liberal supporters in the US with personal connections be motivated any differently? That is, as liberals they see that its militarism hurts the State in the longterm?

    This does not mean liberal nationalists want an integrated society with the return of the native peoples who became Exiles in an analogy to the nationalists’ own historical narratives.

  10. FreddyV
    January 9, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Do we have to do more violence to the word Semite by now using such descriptions as Philo – Semitism?

    From my understanding of the word, it describes those people who originate from the Middle East.

    Surely a more appropriate phrase would be Judeophilia, Ziophile or some derivative of would be more constructive.

    Sorry to derail, but the modern use of the word Semite, whilst born from a prejudice against European Jews in it’s negative ‘anti’ has suffered a deliberate Zionist hijacking to make claim to an ancestral and historic position that doesn’t exist.

    It’s an unpleasant and much abused word which deserves to die out, much like we’re seeing with the ‘N’ word. I don’t see why we’d want to promote it’s usage any further.

    Sorry. Rant over.

    • Mooser
      January 9, 2013, 4:42 pm

      “From my understanding of the word, it describes those people who originate from the Middle East. “

      My understanding is that “Semite” describes practically nothing (except perhaps the complete spuriousness and intellectual corruption of some 19th century “linguistics) relevant to any discussion we might be having. There may be, (according to a new improved 20th century linguistics which retained some old terms) some “Semitic languages, or proto-languages, or something. But I don’t think there are “Semitic” peoples. If anything, the term may describe some languages or parts thereof, which “originate from the Middle East” But what can you do? Not use the expression? That would be anti-Semantic, I think.

      BTW, does “Semites” describe the ‘sons of Shem’? Wasn’t he a son of Noah or something? So we know he existed, it’s in the Bible, and they had polygamy back then, so maybe…

      • FreddyV
        January 10, 2013, 5:17 am


        ‘But what can you do? Not use the expression? That would be anti-Semantic, I think.’

        Ha! You are a brilliantly funny guy!

      • Ellen
        January 10, 2013, 6:06 am

        Ok, we are back on THAT subject again. But what can you do? Not use the expression? That would be anti-Semantic, I think.

        Nope, using the expression is “anti SeMANtic.”

        Semantic meaning that symbolic language conveys meaning. And since SeMITic was hijacked solely to create a symbolic false identity by a bunch of Europeans to try and justify colonization of portion of the ME, using it is really anti SEMANtic. It is using language to create an alter reality, to justify wrong.

        Purge the awful word from your vocabulary for all the reasons Freddy V states. Relegate it to the dust bin where it belongs with the N word as despicable SEMANtics.

        In time, that ugly expression will not be uttered in polite company and those who use it will be revealed as mistaken, misguided or unhinged fanatics behind a ethno colonial enterprise.

        End of rant……

      • libra
        January 10, 2013, 10:54 am

        Ellen: Nope, using the expression is “anti SeMANtic.”

        This can only mean that the many tentacles of the “Lobby” together form the anti-Semantic Web.

        Luckily for Mondoweiss readers, we have just the man to investigate this nefarious network.

    • American
      January 9, 2013, 9:34 pm

      Someone explain to me what a philo-Semite is. The only definition I found is something like someone who has an interest in Jews or things Jewish…doesn’t say why they do.

  11. munro
    January 9, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Attacks on Hagel unfounded
    Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, Omaha

    As a rabbi of Temple Israel for the past 25 years, I have had many opportunities through the years to have long, informative, honest, conversations with Chuck Hagel.

    On more than one occasion, Chuck came and addressed our congregation on a variety of topics. Through our long friendship, I discovered in Chuck Hagel a staunch, credible supporter of the State of Israel.

    As a person who grew up in the State of Israel, I found a great love in Chuck’s heart for the Israeli people and their desire to live in peace and security.

    Through the years, I heard him speak in support for sanctions on Iran, against the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the need to avoid any contact with and not support the terrorist organization Hamas until it agrees to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

    It pains me to read about the attempts to derail his nomination for secretary of defense. Chuck Hagel would be an excellent choice to bring new ideas and renewed vigor to a region searching for lasting peace.

    Chuck Hagel Anti-Israel Charge Is ‘Extremely Stupid,’ Nebraska Rabbi Says

    “We developed a very close relationship,” Azriel said. “I cannot tell you how many times we spent talking, with him wanting to know about my childhood in Israel, what it was like having to go to the basement in apartment building I lived with my parents to hide from bombings. He was deeply interested in my personal experiences.”

    The fact that Hagel has at times spoken out against a monolithic view of what it means to be pro-Israel, Azriel said, was something that had endeared him to the Midwestern community of Jews.

    “He represents the best in the way people are brought up here,” said Azriel, who moved to Omaha from Israel 25 years ago. “This is what I like about him and it is part of the Nebraska piece: He’s definitely independent in his thinking, and people want truthful politicians, people who speak their minds, people who are not moved as marionettes on strings.”

  12. Citizen
    January 9, 2013, 2:42 pm

    Bibi: “America is easily moved.”

    Hagel: “Really? We will see.”

  13. Kathleen
    January 9, 2013, 3:01 pm

    Glad you went over and watched the last two nights of Hardball. Once in awhile Chris really cuts it loose on the Iraq war pushers. But then will say things like Bill Kristol, Podheretz so “smart” and kiss their asses. Drives me nuts. But the last two nights he let it rip except when he said he would support an attack on Iran if necessary. IF NECESSARY oh yeah like the Iraq WMD hooey. And then if that would happen later on Chris would say he was always against it.

    The comments by Stein about Kristol being “charming” were so dysfunctional. Bill Kristol CHARMING…what planet is Stein on? I guess one could say Kristol is charming in a psychopathic kind of way. Bloody Kristol is drowning in the Iraqi people’s blood and American soldiers too. The guy is about as blood thirsty as it gets in a kind of charming way. Oy vey.

    Phil wish I was as convinced as you that we will not attack Iran or support Israel attacking Iran. While I believe it is far less so than with any one else as Secretary of Defense I will never underestimate the influence of the I lobby or Israel. Yet I totally agree that Obama’s willingness to nominate demonstrates some real REAL backbone. Refreshing and hopeful for sure.

    Not sure what you meant by a “midwest Catholic” not being sophisticated? What the hell was that all about? Seemed like some weird slam. Hagel has just been nominated for Secretary of Defense not Bill Kristol or David Frum….. Chuck Hagel. Damn sophisticated in my book in a “midwest, Catholic” kind of way. Which is clearly far more sophisticated than you seem to be capable of imagining.

    I think Schumer is going to stir up trouble for Hagel in the Senate in an underhanded sophisticated kind of way

    • Rusty Pipes
      January 9, 2013, 3:57 pm

      Now that the nomination is out there, Schumer is in a bind. Considering his record of statements, I have a hard time imagining him voting for Hagel. But he’s going to be under strong pressure from Dem. leadership and his Democratic base not to vote against the President. Still, I do not think that he is the kind of politician who would abstain from casting a vote on this. I think that he will follow AIPAC’s lead and say that even though he has objections to Hagel, as a Democrat, he will support the president’s right to pick his cabinet. Then he’ll continue to support anything AIPAC wants as it comes up throughout Hagel’s term.

  14. Kathleen
    January 9, 2013, 3:07 pm

    I sure hope Hagel does not grovel to Schumer etc during the hearings. Stand his ground.

    • Rusty Pipes
      January 10, 2013, 1:31 pm

      Do you really think that standing, in the midst of 100 senators who all took an oath to the US Constitution, on national TV, Schumer is going to go after Hagel for having said he took an oath to the US Constitution and that he was a US Senator, not an Israeli one as evidence that Hagel is anti-Semitic or anti-Israel?

  15. Rusty Pipes
    January 9, 2013, 3:27 pm

    Even if Obama could have been characterized as anti-war three decades ago, he is not now. Anyone who assumes the role of commander in chief takes responsibility for our military’s use of force, in whatever shape that may be.

  16. ToivoS
    January 9, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Now the really hard job is at hand.

    Obama’s policy toward Iran over the last four years has been no war-no peace. Sanctions can be considered war. Cyber attacks are forms of war. Assassination of Iranian physicists are definitely war like acts. We all know that it is the American CIA or Israeli covert operations that have been killing Iranian scientists. It seems to me that at some point the Iranians might just retaliate. If that happens then what does the US do? Or some false flag operation happens. Or some military hotheads on either side just start shooting and escalation follows.

    The current situation is just too unstable and needs to be defused. This will require negotiations where the US agrees to Iran’s right to make fuel for its reactors. It will require some acknowledgment that the IRI is the legitimate government and that it is not our role to change it. It probably means that sanctions will need to be reduced. Politically these will be difficult to achieve. I have thought that since Dennis Ross was removed from State, that Obama was becoming aware that his policies were leading to no good. But can he now reverse them?

  17. seafoid
    January 9, 2013, 5:47 pm
    “Because the fact of the matter is that the many millions of dollars and scores of divisive slogans and speeches that were meant to discredit President Obama’s attitude and policies towards Israel have, in their political and electoral bottom lines, amounted to almost naught. By the same token and by all appearances, the all-out, go-for-the-jugular campaign that is being mounted against the appointment of Hagel as Secretary of Defense is also likely to end in failure, at last as things stand now.

    In the process, however, the American public has been exposed to dismayingly disproportionate discussion of Israel’s trials and tribulations, above and beyond all the countries of the world, more or less, put together. And while the traditionally solid bipartisan support for Israel remains strong on its surface, many on the left and in the Democratic Party are increasingly viewing it as a Republican tool, which, in the natural progression of things, needs to be resisted and countered.

    And thus there is room for concern that when push comes to shove, and Israel reaches a crossroads that is truly crucial or even existential, in which it needs to try and muster all the support that it can in order to exert maximal influence on American policies, it will find that too many bridges have been burned and too many supporters have been alienated in its name; that when the critical moment to use it finally arrived, Israel will discover that the force is no longer with it”

  18. Nevada Ned
    January 9, 2013, 6:26 pm

    I signed the petition for Hagel, and I emailed my Senator in support of Hagel.

    You can be critical of my decision: after all, Hagel represents the current US policy towards the Middle East.

    My response: Hagel is currently the only realistic alternative to an even WORSE policy, which would involve a US/Israeli attack on Iran.

  19. eGuard
    January 9, 2013, 6:51 pm

    So there is a New Israel Lobby. They have Saved Israel (from what by the way?). Who are they? Liberal Zionists. Not MJ Rosenberg. Not Phil Weiss (yet?). Not Andrew Sullivan. These new Friends of Tom Friedman since November 6 have looked around, have read the comments under the Jennifer Rubin and NYT op-eds, and have chosen a slight career adjustment. Just in time. And it was free.

    These New Israel Lobbyists are the one who had Obama take the heat. Now that it is safe, they take a stand — and a ticket to lobby power. Maybe even some Congress people will take a stand (but not 29 times as they did earlier: that was a different era you know). Still, if you take out the “neo”, there remains the “con”. Remember: not one of these had to fight or pay a price for their being a liberal Zionist.

  20. ToivoS
    January 9, 2013, 8:17 pm

    Justin Raimondo has a good opinion up at on Hagel. He has been bitterly critical of Obama for most of his first term but comes out with down right praise for Obama and Hagel.

    He sees this as a major defeat for the whole Lobby in terms similar to Phil’s exultations. I tend to agree. Perhaps we should appreciate and celebrate the victory at hand right now and not worry so much about the tough fight ahead (as I do above).

    Phil and Justin could be right. This just might be a major political tipping point, namely the Lobby has not just suffered a defeat (can’t win them all, after all) but have done it in such a way that will cause them lasting problems. It was the neocons that attacked Hagel for saying ‘he is a US senator, not an Israeli senator’ and using this as evidence of his antisemitism. This must have stuck in the throats of many patriotic Americans and helped whip up a back lash that turned into a river of support for Hagel. Absolutely amazing that the neocons could be that tone deaf. Maybe that’s what happens if one is not challenged for 5 decades.

    Somehow, I do think Bill Kristol’s days as a media star are over. If the Lobby wants to salvage any influence they will have to dump him as fast as they can.

  21. Kathleen
    January 9, 2013, 8:39 pm

    More from Chris Matthews on Hagel’s nomination

    A must read
    Scowcroft weighs in on the Hagel nomination

    Republican senators were for Hagel, before they were against him

    I think Schumer is going to do his best to undermine Hagel’s nomination

    • American
      January 9, 2013, 9:38 pm

      ”I think Schumer is going to do his best to undermine Hagel’s nomination”……kathleen

      LOL…remember when Steve Clemons went after Schumer on TWN?
      Asked who do you work for Schumer, Israel or the US?
      Loved it.

  22. atime forpeace
    January 9, 2013, 9:19 pm

    Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar

    “Thus, on balance, it all but seems likely that the more things appear to change, the more they might remain the same. But that will be a gross simplification of the powerful signal Obama has chosen to send by selecting two Vietnam veterans for the two key cabinet posts of secretaries of state and defense – John Kerry and Hagel.

    Obama is signaling much more than a new leadership style of using more carrots than sticks, more ideas and persuasion than threats and sanctions, more “soft power” than “smart power”. The bottom line is that now that he won’t be running again, Obama enjoys far greater space and flexibility than during the past four years to really test a values-based foreign policy approach that relies on negotiations.

    Monday’s short walk with Hagel is long enough to recall who Obama used to be – and could still turn out to be. ”

    Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

  23. Boston
    January 10, 2013, 7:53 am

    “and– because establishment Jewish opinion re the Middle East is ultimately determinative of US policy”

    This statement is true, destructive, and in need of change

  24. seafoid
    January 10, 2013, 11:23 am

    Interesting comments on

    These activies of Israel have angered most Americans
    o By ron
    o 10 Jan 2013
    o 06:38AM
    It is entirely inappropriate and unprecedented for Israel to push itself into US politics and US foreign policy in this way. Israelis and their US supporters do not seem to detect how unwelcome this behavior has become. Nowadays, many people in the US press are pointing this out in very direct ways. Previously, the US media did not criticize Israel because of aggressive intimidation and labeling as anti-semitic. This is now changing completely and many prominent Jews are pointing out how this pushy behavior is hurting Israel in the long-term.

    • Obama is feeding you guys alllllll the rope you need.
    o By Johnboy
    o 10 Jan 2013
    o 02:37AM
    And if the Lobby decides to fight Hagel’s confirmation then that will be the moment that it jumps the shark. Which, of course, is exactly what Obama wants the Lobby to do.

    • Waste of Israel’s political capital
    o By nadya
    o 10 Jan 2013
    o 02:16AM
    Excellent article. In the daily news the American public is led to believe that Israel has existential problems everyday. The American public is getting tired of it and takes it with a grain of salt. You need to let your lackey’s (AIPAC, etc.) know to back-off until something really important comes along before it is to late and Israel is completely ignored. Leave the internal appointments of government to the American people of and stay out of our politics
    • Americans are tired of Israel’s delusions of entitlement and attempts at meddling. in OUR elections.
    o By Melissa
    o 09 Jan 2013
    o 11:58PM
    Concentrate on your OWN elections

  25. Citizen
    January 13, 2013, 8:08 am

    8AM EST Jan 13: for those still following this comment thread, span wj is now discussing Hagel’s nomination and especially Hagel’s stances over the years re foreign policy. Gary Schmitt of AEI Center for Security Studies Co-Director & Steve Clemons of The Atlantic, Editor at large. Schmitt’s arguing Hagel’s not up to snuff for the job, and Clemons is saying the military contractors will be hardest hit by pentagon spending cuts. Now Schmitt’s saying Hagel ignorant of rethinking by Pentagon of its spending. Now quoting Hagel over the years, showing video clips, etc.

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