Casual slander of Hagel as anti-Semite puts Elliott Abrams on hot seat

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One of the best things about the Chuck Hagel nomination is that it exposes a sinister pattern in which Zionists and their defenders casually throw around the term “anti-Semite” in order to scare off the opposition, when that term is a slander that ruins careers. This pattern was evident in 2007 at Yivo Institute when four intellectuals (including Marty Peretz, Daniel Goldhagen and Jeffrey Goldberg) hurled the term anti-semite at Walt and Mearsheimer in order to protect Israel from criticism. It was evident when Goldberg called Walt a “grubby Jew-baiter” without offering any evidence, because there is none. And Goldberg writes for the Atlantic and Bloomberg.

Well now a group of neoconservatives, led by Elliott Abrams, has called Chuck Hagel an anti-Semite. They hoped through this tactic to make Hagel vanish in a puff of smoke from the playing field, so they’d never have to deal with him again. As they did with Chas Freeman four years ago. But Obama overcame this resistance to nominate Hagel, and the former Nebraska senator is likely to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense. And as Abe Foxman was forced to admit to the Forward, when it asked him why he had virtually accused Hagel of anti-Semitism and is now not opposing Hagel, “In the world we live in, one cannot be nuanced”–though now that Hagel’s been nominated, it’s a “different reality.” I.e., we throw whatever lies we want at someone, to make them persona non grata…  But if someone’s in a high office, we don’t want to get on their bad side.

More good news. Abrams, who is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is now out on a limb for hinting darkly that Hagel gave a cold shoulder to Jews in Nebraska. Nathan Guttman at the Forward looks into Elliott Abrams’s suggestions about the Nebraska Jewish community and comes up with… zilch!

Trouble is, Jews in Nebraska on both sides of Hagel’s confirmation fight emphatically refute the charge. “To make such an accusation you need to be very careful,” said Gary Javitch, an activist in Omaha, Nebraska’s biggest city, which has a community of about 6,500 Jews. “He never demonstrated anything like that in all the meetings I had with him.”

Javitch’s views may hold particular weight because he is no fan of Hagel. A lay leader in several Jewish organizations, he is considered by locals to an expert on the local Jewish political scene.

Javitch harshly criticized Hagel’s expressed views on Israel and the Middle East and did not appreciate his demeanor. “Every time we’d raise something about Israel, he’d filibuster us,” said Javitch, who met with Hagel both in Washington and in Omaha. The former Senator attended a B’nai Brith International “bread breaker” meeting at Javitch’s invitation, but gave the impression he thought Israel “should always do more” for the Palestinians.

Still, when asked if he thought the claims of Hagel’s bias against Jews had any merit, he responded flatly “No.”

Ali Gharib writes that Elliott Abrams owes Hagel an apology, and Robert Wright has turned the focus on to the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeting that Abrams “taints cfr’s good name.” I can’t say that CFR has a good name, being the fount of a lot of bad ideas, but certainly it has a reputation to uphold. It has already distanced itself from Abrams’s remarks. So Abrams’s smear is, at last, splashing back up on the smearer. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend.

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