Hagel looms — will AIPAC dare to take him on?

Israel/Palestine
on 60 Comments

One of the most extraordinary dramas of the modern presidency, the Floating of Chuck Hagel, in which a fundamental question of the People versus A Special Interest was debated in the media thanks to White House leaks– with powerful zealots and editorial page writers and tweeters and bloggers and senators weighing in– is coming to its final act, with all signs that Obama is going to damn the torpedoes and nominate Hagel for Secretary of Defense.

“Next week the bullshit stops” on Hagel, says former Senator Max Cleland, who like Hagel was injured in Vietnam. 

Neoconservative Ari Fleischer is angrily resigned to it:

When Obama names Hagel, I hope there’s a table in the room so we can see if there is anything on it.  

Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post says the appointment is a move to the left:

Oddly, the nomination of Republican Chuck Hagel will be the strongest indication yet that Obama is moving to the left in his second term

Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian agrees, calling the likely appointment one of the boldest moves of the Obama presidency. And he urges liberals to join realists to smash the Israel lobby:

at the very least, Hagel’s confirmation will be a much-needed declaration that some mild dissent on foreign policy orthodoxies and Israel is permitted. It will shatter AIPAC’s veto power and dilute the perception of the so-called “pro-Israel community’s” unchallengeable power. It will ensure that there is at least some diversity of viewpoints when it comes to debating endless war, belligerence v. negotiations, and MidEast policy. It will highlight the typically-suppressed differences within the GOP and the country about America’s war posture. In sum, as Matt Duss very persuasively detailed in the American Prospect, Hagel’s confirmation would bring some incremental though potentially substantial benefits.

Given the steadfast and usually unquestioning support most liberals have given this Democratic President as he’s pursued policies of aggression and militarism, they should refrain from opposing one of the few prominent dissidents on these matters absent some very compelling reasons. So far, nothing remotely compelling has been offered. If this nomination actually happens, this will be one of Obama’s best appointments and boldest steps of his presidency. It would be ironic indeed, and more than a bit unfortunate, if liberals decide to make this nomination one of the very few times they are willing to oppose their party’s leader.

The Republican Jewish Coalition wants a bruising nomination battle. Matt Brooks tweets:

If Obama chooses Hagel “he can expect a very difficult and bruising nomination battle.” Very tough warning.

But the RJC is made up of neoconservative zealots, aligned with Bill Kristol and the Emergency Committee for Israel and Josh Block of the Israel Project, formerly of AIPAC. They can’t mount an attack on Hagel without the big Jewish organizations, AIPAC and the ADL and the Conference of Presidents. Jim Lobe doesn’t think that battle is going to happen. He says that AIPAC will read the writing on the wall– Senate confirmation of a decorated war hero (Steve Walt’s describes Hagel as such in talking to Lobe)– and understand that it could lose considerable political capital if it takes the battle on.

If it [AIPAC] mounts a vigorous campaign to fight Hagel’s confirmation by the Senate, it could put at serious risk its relations with the president, who is about to be inaugurated for another four-year term.

Worse, if it loses such a campaign, the aura of near-invincibility that it has assiduously cultivated over the past 30 years – and which has translated into virtually unanimous votes on resolutions in both houses of Congress in support of Israeli policies from the Occupied West Bank to Iran – will suffer a serious blow.

Yet, if it acquiesces in Hagel’s confirmation, it will result in the placement in a critical foreign policy post of a man who prides himself on his independence.

Hagel has expressed strong scepticism about – if not opposition to – war with Iran, and, despite a record of strong support for Israel’s defence needs, has not hesitated to publicly criticise both the Israeli government and its supporters here for pursuing actions that have, in his view, harmed Washington’s strategic interests in the Middle East.

Yes: the Hagel nomination would be bad news for those wanting war with Iran. And so Lobe suggests that AIPAC might oppose Hagel because it is listening to Netanyahu: 

AIPAC and like-minded groups will no doubt be influenced by the views of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-wing coalition is favoured to win elections later this month.

The major U.S. Jewish organisations and AIPAC have historically given great weight to the policy preferences of Israel’s elected leadership, even as they have privately urged them to take a different course.

MJ Rosenberg thinks that AIPAC won’t fight Hagel. Or maybe it will. Rosenberg hasn’t made up his mind. Two tweets, ten minutes apart:

The lobby will not dare exposé itself for what it is by defeating a Cabinet appointment out of loyalty to a foreign country…

Has a foreign lobby ever tried to defeat a Cabinet appointment before?

So Rosenberg is prepared to make this a fight over dual loyalty. The former operative for the Israel lobby who bravely gave us “Israel Firsters,” and sought to marginalize the neocons on that basis, wants AIPAC exposed as a foreign agent. So we are back to the fundamental issue at the heart of this conflict, The American people’s interest versus the Israeli government’s interest. Joy.

Update: Cleland also plays the war hero card at Talking Points Memo:

“Look Chuck Hagel in the eye and vote up or down. Against a combat-wounded veteran, against a former member of the United States Senate, against a foreign relations committee member, against a sitting member of the military intelligence advisory committee to the Department of Defense,” he said. “Look him in the eye and vote against him for Secretary of Defense. Are you kidding me?”

Thanks to Harry Hjalmarson and Ilene Cohen.

About Philip Weiss

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

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60 Responses

  1. Carllarc
    January 6, 2013, 10:37 am

    of course, with all the ‘my way or the highway’ of the Israeli lobby, if AIPAC doesn’t oppose Hagel, it will rightly be viewed as a back-down retreat. So, the real decision should be framed as the possibility of doing their dirty deed and defeating Hagel vs showing a retreat vs. being defeated.

  2. seanmcbride
    January 6, 2013, 10:47 am

    The great pieces by Phil on the Hagel nomination just keep on coming — one can’t find this quality of analysis anywhere else in the world.

    My small contribution to the discussion: since contemporary Zionism is suffused with messianism — arrogant and irrational self-confidence concerning Israel’s supposed God-sanctioned historical mission among “the nations” — it is quite possible that Israel and the Israel lobby will behave self-destructively and pursue their current vicious campaign to destroy Chuck Hagel. One needs to understand their psychology to predict their behavior — and their psychology is an open book.

    • Klaus Bloemker
      January 6, 2013, 11:40 am

      “self-confidence concerning Israel’s supposed God-sanctioned historical mission”
      ———————-
      The Jews of old were ‘self-confident enough of their mission’ in 68 A.D. to take on six Roman legions under the command of two future Roman emperors. That was a messianic insurgency against all odds and they lost.

      But they might well try it again against Obama, America and the rest of ‘the nations’. Their odds are better today than they were then.

      • seanmcbride
        January 6, 2013, 12:57 pm

        Klaus,

        The Jews of old were ‘self-confident enough of their mission’ in 68 A.D. to take on six Roman legions under the command of two future Roman emperors. That was a messianic insurgency against all odds and they lost.

        But they might well try it again against Obama, America and the rest of ‘the nations’. Their odds are better today than they were then.

        In many ways, the current gathering storm between Israel and the United States/Europe (and the whole damned world) seems to be a replay of the Jewish-Roman wars — one sees the same archetypes, myths, beliefs and symbols in play.

        This time around, Israel is armed with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and is bristling with threats to exercise the Samson Option against “the nations.” Many of the zealots who control these weapons of mass destruction appear to be off their rockers, drunk on apocalyptic biblical messianism.

      • JennieS
        January 6, 2013, 5:07 pm

        The Zionist dream of a Jewish state required a large amount of gentile political support to get started. The state of Israel has been sustained by American power and European guilt, both of which are now fading. When that sustenance is withdrawn Israel will fail. I hope it does so relatively quietly but I fear the “Samson option” which would destroy the land for the foreseeable future, drasically affect the rest of the world and critically endanger diaspora Jews.

      • seanmcbride
        January 6, 2013, 6:09 pm

        JennieS,

        The Zionist dream of a Jewish state required a large amount of gentile political support to get started. The state of Israel has been sustained by American power and European guilt, both of which are now fading. When that sustenance is withdrawn Israel will fail. I hope it does so relatively quietly but I fear the “Samson option” which would destroy the land for the foreseeable future, drasically affect the rest of the world and critically endanger diaspora Jews.

        You just put your finger on the most urgent problem concerning Mideast politics that should be preoccupying the American government, all European governments, and all governments worldwide for that matter. They may need to combine their resources to deal with it.

      • dbroncos
        January 6, 2013, 5:39 pm

        I don’t think we need to look at the ancient history of messianic religious claim to find the source of the Israel Lobby’s arrogance. Precedents set over the last 45 years are more than enough to explain the feeling of invincibility that informs the Lobby and its leadership. They’ve come to understand that what Israel’s supporters want they get. Period. Today, however, they are having to venture out from the shadows more and more to maintain support for Israel’s belligerent policies and even for Zionism itself. An American war on Iran, for Israel’s benefit, won’t be supported by a majority of Americans. Likewise, muzzle laws to silence California students as per thier critique of Zionism won’t stand the light of day. Like never before, the Lobby’s strong arm tactics are now being exposed to bright sunshine and not just in DC.

  3. doug
    January 6, 2013, 11:04 am

    > The Republican Jewish Coalition wants a bruising nomination battle.
    >> “If Obama chooses Hagel “he can expect a very difficult and bruising nomination >> battle.” Very tough warning.”

    It’s really an indication of the opposite. If the RJC wanted a bruising battle they wouldn’t be trying so hard to prevent Obama from nominating Hagel.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    January 6, 2013, 11:08 am

    RE: “Next week the bullshit stops” on Hagel, says former Senator Max Cleland, who like Hagel was injured in Vietnam. ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: It will be interesting to see what position my “chickenhawk” senator Saxby Chambliss takes on Hagel.
    Chambliss has been on the Israel Project’s “board of advisors” since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate back in 2002. Then a congressman, Chambliss advanced to the U.S. Senate by defeating the incumbent senator Max Cleland (D-GA), a recipient of both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valorous action in combat during the Vietnam War.

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [Saxby Chambliss]:

    (EXCERPT) . . . [Saxby] Chambliss focused on the issue of national defense and homeland security during his campaign, and
    released an ad that included Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, highlighting Cleland’s record on the issues of war and terrorism.*
    [8]
    Chambliss received criticism from Democrats and Republicans for this ad, pointing out that he, who hadn’t served in the Vietnam War due to receiving military deferments, had attacked a Vietnam War veteran who lost three limbs during his service for not being tough enough on issues of war and homeland security. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said of one ad, “[I]t’s worse than disgraceful, it’s reprehensible;” Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said the ads were “beyond offensive to me.”[9] On the other hand, Chambliss supporters say the ad did not question Cleland’s patriotism, but rather his judgment.[10][11] . . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    * Sure does smell a “whole heap” like the work of Arthur J. Finkelstein!

    • seanmcbride
      January 6, 2013, 11:29 am

      Dickerson,

      Deep analytics, social network analysis, connecting the dots — keep up the good work. The truth is out there about the Israel lobby, its agenda, its beliefs, its operatives, its tools, its methods, its front groups, etc. — the entire global operation can be easily graphed and grasped with a bit of research.

  5. just
    January 6, 2013, 11:21 am

    Cleland and Greenwald rock!
    Thanks so much for your coverage of this issue, Phil.
    Here’s Lindsey Graham this morning on State of the Union:

    Republican lawmakers on Sunday rushed to throw cold water on news that President Obama will reportedly nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as his next secretary of defense on Monday.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham led the chorus, calling it an “in-your-face nomination” from a White House that was already knee-deep in an “in-your-face” second term.

    “This is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel,” said Graham, during an appearance on “State of the Union” on CNN. “I don’t know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon — little, if any. So I think it’s an incredibly controversial choice, and it looks like the second term of President Obama is going to be an in-your-face term. I’m not going to talk to you at all about the debt ceiling, and here’s my secretary of defense nominee that is going to get a lot of bipartisan concern.”
    link to huffingtonpost.com

    • American
      January 6, 2013, 12:02 pm

      “This is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel,” said Graham, during an appearance on “State of the Union” on CNN”…Graham

      Graham actually said this…’all of us who are supportive of Israel”…. on CNN???
      Love it. Keep making it clear this is about Israel Graham.

      • just
        January 6, 2013, 12:06 pm

        Yep– you can see the video at the link I posted.

    • AlGhorear
      January 6, 2013, 12:34 pm

      Not just Graham, but the entire CNN segment has been an assault on the Hagel nomination, starting with Candy Crowley who highlights Hagel’s “Jewish Lobby” comment and his unfriendliness to Israel in her lead-up to Graham’s comments. She lets what he says go unchallenged, merely asks if the Senate will try to filibuster the nomination. I didn’t see the whole program. Did she put anyone on who supports Hagel?

      And about Graham, who can listen to this guy and not feel their breakfast working it’s way back up their esophagus?

      • just
        January 6, 2013, 1:10 pm

        Durbin had good things to say about him.
        I just watched the full interview with Candy Crowley and Graham, and he must have mentioned Israel at least 9 times.

        As to your last question, I can’t.

  6. Annie Robbins
    January 6, 2013, 11:28 am

    So Rosenberg is prepared to make this a fight over dual loyalty. The former operative for the Israel lobby who bravely gave us “Israel Firsters,” and sought to marginalize the neocons on that basis, wants AIPAC exposed as a foreign agent. So we are back to the fundamental issue at the heart of this conflict, The American people’s interest versus the Israeli government’s interest. Joy.

    great article phil.

    Has a foreign lobby ever tried to defeat a Cabinet appointment before?

    i asked a similar question the other day. i can’t really recall a knockdown drag out over a cabinet nominee like this in my lifetime. that’s a lotta light on a nightflower.

    • pabelmont
      January 6, 2013, 12:19 pm

      Annie: “The American people’s interest versus the Israeli government’s interest.”

      Well, I’d really love to see a real public discussion, pros and cons, multi-issue, about what there is about Israel’s settlements program which is good for anyone in America other (of course) than pro-settlement folks, who just want what they want and call that wanting “an American interest”. and, also of course, a discussion of why Israel’s settlements program is BAD for various American interests.

      We may all be in left field, here, claiming an “American interest” in rule of law or human rights or peace or justice or the like. But, who knows, maybe there are a lot of people who have “values” like that and are willing to go out on a limb and call them “American values” and “American interests”.

      • American
        January 6, 2013, 1:09 pm

        ”We may all be in left field, here, claiming an “American interest” in rule of law or human rights or peace or justice or the like.”..pablemont

        I think people get confused about “American interest” because there are two components to what US interest are.
        Some here claim that when “Realist” talk about American interest they are defining it as ‘National power’ or Capitalist interest that ignores the wishes of the common citizen or little people.
        That is not the true Realist position. What they are saying is pretty simple. Realism says that before you can get to ‘values” and other human interest you have to first have a ‘secure foundation’ for those other interest to operate in and from.
        Think of the #1 US interest as building a ‘house’ people need to live in for shelter, protection, qualifty of life, so on. It’s foundation has to be level and solid to support the house.
        Once that first basic requirment of ‘housing’ of people is met then the people have a foundation, somewhere to advocate from for whatever their values or human interest are.
        For true Realist if the foundation of the US house cracks, crumbles, brings the house down– then the people are out there on their own.
        And if that happens survival will trump their human values and interest…so the foundation of the house is the first priority.

        On the Israel issue for Realist, I-First in the US government represents a crack that threatens the foundation.

      • irishmoses
        January 6, 2013, 6:44 pm

        Good points American.

        I think the actual realist position is that there is a hierarchy of American interests, a few, at the very top are defined as “vital US interests”, those that are so important that we must be willing to go to war if they are threatened. A college poli sci professor gave us the short list of key vital US interests, circa mid 60s: 1)maintaining the territorial integrity of the US; 2)maintaining a balance of power in Europe; 3)maintaining a balance of power in Asia; and 4)maintaining our hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. This is largely the George Kennan-ish realism of the Cold War. Notice the absence of ideological terms like promoting freedom and democracy.

        Interestingly, President Obama publicly defined solving the Israel-Palestine conflict as a vital US interest at the very beginning of his first term. Several top level people like Hilary Clinton publicly repeated this early on. But, once the Israelis and their Greater Israel Lobby got rolling, talk of an I-P solution as a vital US interest disappeared and has not been mentioned since. How did it suddenly become non-vital?

        Most realists would say we go wrong when we fight wars over interests that are poorly defined and not vital because we squander our resources, our reputation and good will, and our military. Vietnam and Iraq are certainly two prime examples. Fighting an amorphous War on Terror is another. This is the reason the approach of the neocon ideologues is so flawed. They fail to address and protect the primacy of US vital interests, and instead fritter away vast resources waging unnecessary wars under the guise of promoting freedom and democracy. The pro-Greater Israel wing of the neocons fails to define and take into account Israel’s vital interest, let alone those of the US. The Iraq war did not enhance Israeli vital interests, it severely damaged them by stirring up a hornet’s nest. Ditto an Iran war.

        Foreign policy based on ideology is a recipe for disaster. Chuck Hagel, a realist, knows this and is willing to stand up and say so. That is why he poses such a threat to the neocons and particularly to the Greater Israel branch.

        My personal view is the Israel and its Greater Israel lobby are trying to prevent Hagel from gaining a step that would enhance his qualifications as a presidential candidate. They desperately want to stop him pre-appointment because they fear his willingness to tell it like it is during hearings. I would love to see him take on Lindsay Graham and others of that ilk over issues like Israel and Iran. He would gain a lot of valuable exposure and publicity even if his appointment as SecDef is not approved.

        The Great Israel lobby folks are likely very worried about that scenario. I don’t think they are all that worried about Hagel being Secretary of Defense. They just want to screw up his presidential chances before he can gain any traction from holding and succeeding in such a high office.

        Gil Maguire
        http://www.irishmoses.com

      • piotr
        January 6, 2013, 10:38 pm

        “Foreign policy based on ideology is a recipe for disaster.”

        I am not sure. One problem is that “liberal interventionism”, “neocon promotion of democracy” etc. are ersatz ideologies that when exported do not look fresh at all.

      • yonah fredman
        January 7, 2013, 5:29 am

        irish moses- Hagel- a potential presidential candidate? Bushwa, nonsense, baloney, nonsense, silliness.

      • irishmoses
        January 7, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Piotr:
        “Foreign policy based on ideology is a recipe for disaster.”

        I think “liberal interventionism” a la Vietnam suffers from the same poorly defined ideological rationale for foreign policy decisions as does neocon ideology. Both may be less ideological and more political in origin. In any case neither is rational or realistic. George Kennan, the archetypical foreign policy realist, thought our Vietnam adventure was insane because Vietnam had nothing to do with maintaining a balance of power in Asia, and in fact was contrary to that goal. i.e. We should have sought to ally ourselves with the Vietnamese whose historic enemy was China.

      • irishmoses
        January 7, 2013, 1:01 pm

        Yonah,

        Hagel was a credible potential candidate for the Republican party in 2008 but decided not to run. The idea that he might decide to run for that office in the future is hardly silly.

        For the Republican party to survive it has to disassociate itself from its loony tea party and “values” fringe. The perfect leader for a new Republican party based on traditional Eisenhower/Nixon/Reagan conservative values is Chuck Hagel. SecDef is a steppingstone for Hagel which is why the Greater Israel Lobby is fighting so desperately to prevent his nomination.

        Hagel has a track record of saying it like it is and being willing to resign rather than violate his principles. I suspect he will be vocal about Israel, about Iran, and about the loonies of the Republican party and the need for change. If confronted by pressure from the Greater Israel Lobby on Iran or I-P, he, like Eisenhower, would be willing to go public and tell the American people why we should not attack Iran, or why resolving the I-P mess is vital to US security interests. You would not see Chuck Hagel going to Israel to kiss the ass of Adelman and/or Netanyahu as did Romney in his campaign.

      • Erasmus
        January 7, 2013, 11:38 am

        Re: ” Well, I’d really love to see a real public discussion, pros and cons……..
        and, also of course, a discussion why Israel’s settlements program is BAD for various American interests…”

        General Petraeus and others have been very explicit on this subject, has he not !!

  7. biorabbi
    January 6, 2013, 11:49 am

    The more interesting point to me is has Hagel really changed? Is he still a bull in a china shop regarding staff? or was this allegation bull? Was he hostile to Israel and the Israeli Lobby or was he extremely close to the Israeli born rabbi who lives in Nebraska as the rabbi has noted, with Hagel asking many questions about his childhood? This suggests the opposite of hostility to Israel and the Jews. Will his style radically upset the apple cart at defense, pissing off contractors and, more important, the many layered staff? Staff, I might add whose middle name is leak.

    Will there even be an opposition? Will some democrats vote against? I relied on some of the ‘breaking news’ stuff from a site called the Free Beacon, but the publisher appears in need of some psychiatric medication so I’m not sure who’se telling the truth about Hagel.

    I think there will be a very hostile confirmation process… by the GOP… and it will be payback for Hagel’s harsh attacks on Iraq. Hagel’s sharp. Hagel’s course on Iraq has got to rile up the McCain bloc. Finally, is it truly a done deal with Hagel even being nominated? Is this really a done deal as leaked Friday? or will more dithering occur at the 11′nth hour.

    • libra
      January 6, 2013, 5:49 pm

      The more interesting point to me is has biorabbbi really changed? Is this for once a serious piece of political analysis? Or is it just a desperate trawl of the bottom of the barrel for any old scrap that might raise a scintilla of doubt about Hagel?

      • piotr
        January 6, 2013, 10:53 pm

        bull in a china shop regarding staff?

        I am trying to keep track of animal metaphors. E.g. in my old countries someone can be “like an elephant in china shop”. In good old days the concept of sparing the feelings of the staff was totally unknown.

        The feelings of military contractors were protected much better, but was it such a good thing?

        In any case, in another thread we read the best “framing”: “He said that he would do anything to avoid a needless, senseless war. Is it a reasonable position?”

  8. DICKERSON3870
    January 6, 2013, 12:00 pm

    RE: “[T]he Floating of Chuck Hagel . . . is coming to its final act, with all signs that Obama is going to damn the torpedoes and nominate Hagel for Secretary of Defense. ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Then the battle begins for Hagel’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate!

    JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE (JVP) PETITION: When nominating the next Secretary of Defense, make your decision based on who you believe is the best person for the job, not who AIPAC approves of.
    TO SIGN – link to salsa.democracyinaction.org

    WHITE HOUSE PETITION: Urging the Obama administration to nominate Hagel and fight for his confirmation.
    TO SIGN - link to petitions.whitehouse.gov

    ROBERT NAIMAN’S PETITION: President Obama, we have your back. We support your choice of Chuck Hagel to serve as the next Secretary of Defense.
    TO SIGN - link to signon.org

    FACEBOOK PAGE: Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense
    TO “LIKE” – link to facebook.com

  9. atime forpeace
    January 6, 2013, 12:11 pm

    This quote below is from MJRosenberg to whom i tip my hat for his candor concern and sincerity.

    “But, remember, it’s not the jews, it is a few unrepresentative millionaires and
    billionaires who enjoy making the United States govt quake both for Netanyahu’s sake and to feel all powerful . Don’t blame the jews.”

    Phil i know you like to keep your board clean when it comes to anti semitic tropes, but this is now JMRosenberg pleading that the jews collectively not be blamed in the event that they are all lumped together with the millionaire billionaire neoconservative zionist -loving likudniks to just tag them with a few of the most damning of their appelations.

    There is no chance that americans can ever associate all jews with the neocons and if it does happen there is no chance that they can ever turn anti semitic.

    No chance of xenophobia here.

    • Ellen
      January 6, 2013, 12:30 pm

      Right, the Zionist enterprise is only that — an enterprise that hijacked judaism for cover. Sort of like the enterpise of the Crusades. There have been many hands from all corners in that.

      The industry of occupation itself — security, walls, prisons, camps, etc has made many a millionaire without cultural or religious distinction.

    • Byzantium
      January 7, 2013, 2:52 am

      But I do blame the Jews, or at least the Jewish establishment, for the propagation of Zionism both in the US and abroad. The fact is that most Jews grow up within communities where Israel’s “right to exist” and the whitewash of the Palestinian plight are articles of faith, transmitted to children as a matter of course through every social, cultural and educational mechanism available. And contrary to your assertions, these communities are not stocked with “billionaire neoconservatives”, but largely with Obama-voting liberals. Indeed, one of the primary causes for Israelophilia in the US even among non-Jews is Zionism’s positive portrayal in movies and on TV, the studios largely owned and operated by far-left Jews for whom there is no distinction between their Jewishness and their support for Israel. The fact is that Zionism has infected the Jewish world like a cancer, and until we stop trying to make excuses by trumpeting “don’t blame the Jews” at every opportunity, but instead take responsibility for our “illness”, we will only perpetuate the status quo.

      • Ellen
        January 7, 2013, 3:58 am

        Responsibility, yes. Blame? Why?

        Blame is a downward spiral and leads nowhere productive. Besides, Zionism has been used by, enriched and empowered many more than only Jews. Were all in this together.

        (That is one of the reasons I have trouble with the JVP organization, which is exclusive in name and spirit.)

      • W.Jones
        January 7, 2013, 11:07 am

        Ellen,

        I am OK with religious organizations dedicated to a progressive cause, so it seems OK to me if JVP sees itself as a religious organization opposing the Israeli version of Apartheid. That way it could create criticisms that are specifically religious in a way that an interfaith group might not be able to. Such a criticism could be that in their view the TaNaKh envisions the people’s restoration to be together with the Messiah, rather than envisioning a secular ethnic enterprise.

        However, the aspect of a group that is specifically nationalist, as in a group that is religious AND ethnic seems very problematic to me. It would end up making nationalistic criticisms (revolving around “this is not good for our ethnicity“) instead of those on behalf of the other cultural group (eg. “first and foremost must be Palestinians’ rights because they are the oppressed group”).

        There’s a difference between creating a group called “Churches Against Apartheid” and one called “Whites Against Apartheid”. The first is moralistic and motivated by religious values, the second is racially self-centered and motivated by nationalistic characteristics. Do you see what I mean?

        A group like Tikkun Olam seems to make primarily religious, moral criticisms, while J-Street on the other hand does not seem to focus much on religion (“the Torah says…”), yet still revolves around its own group (To paraphrase a quote I heard by their leader: “I don’t care about Palestinians’ rights, I care about my own group”).

      • W.Jones
        January 7, 2013, 11:47 am

        I like IJAN- I find them radical and sincerely against the nationalist state system. Theoretically I could find it problematic, because as radical Jewish leftists they would likely have a nonreligious orientation, and in that case, how is their group different from “Radical Whites Against Apartheid”?

        The only practical problem I have seen is when Palestinian activists have made very radical criticisms of Zionism and the Israeli State, and in turn other radicals who focus on their own nationality have denounced them as not just extreme anti-Zionists but as “anti-Semites”. The denunciations are problematic because even incorrect criticisms of Zionism can be motivated by things other than anti-semitism.

      • American
        January 7, 2013, 11:00 am

        Byzantium says:
        January 7, 2013 at 2:52 am
        ”The fact is that Zionism has infected the Jewish world like a cancer, and until we stop trying to make excuses by trumpeting “don’t blame the Jews” at every opportunity, but instead take responsibility for our “illness”, we will only perpetuate the status quo.”…..>>>>

        I tend to agree somewhat. I don’t have a problem with dissenting Jews saying don’t blame ‘The Jews’. But as a ‘tactic’ to protect Jews in general I don’t think it does a lot because who is their audience for that message? For instance how many non Jews read MJ…how many Americans for instance read AlJez where his articles sometimes appear? It might do something by way of the public grapevine but it doesn’t compete with the Zio megaphone. I suppose however this drop in the bucket effort is better than nothing to counter the ‘Zio’ Jewish establishment…but it’s still a drop in the bucket.
        However I think if I were a Jew concerned about Jews being blamed I’d
        be doing some Dutch Uncle ‘lecturing’ aimed the community to shake up any pro Israel elements and get the lackadaisical ones off their duffs to counter those thousands of phone call politicians get from the AIPAC members.
        If you’re part of a crowd and are lead to think ..well no matter what some of us do no one is going to be blamed….you probably wouldn’t feel a burning mission to do much of anything about the trouble makers.
        It’s fine to try to shield the innocent but the actual goal from mpv is to end support for I-Firstdom and it’s lobby in the US government.

  10. Donald
    January 6, 2013, 12:32 pm

    David Brooks on PBS on Friday said that Hagel was in the mainstream and was just a realist– then Mark Shields explicitly said (and he sounded a little nervous to me, like he was walking on eggshells) that a member of the Israeli Labor party could say things in Israel that would get you labeled an “anti-semite” if you said them in America.

    So it’s my impression that the “anti-semite” slander has backfired and Hagel’s smarter opponents realize this, so those who don’t want Hagel’s views on Iran and Israel to come into the mainstream conversation in a more explicit way have to oppose him on all the other grounds–the anti-gay remark in the 90′s, or his alleged lack of managerial experience (I don’t know if that’s valid or not) or anything else they can dig up. The last thing they want is a public debate about the ideological limits that are normally imposed in Washington on the subject of Israel.

  11. fillmorehagan
    January 6, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Some Hagel supporters have their own agendas. Zbig Brezinsky is against a war with Iran only because that might strengthen Russian influence in the region. And this Polish emigrant hates Russia as much as the Israel lobby hates Iran.

  12. Les
    January 6, 2013, 1:58 pm

    This will be a great way to find out if the Israel Lobby is Jewish.

  13. Nevada Ned
    January 6, 2013, 2:32 pm

    During the recent election, Netanyahu tried very hard to get Romney elected, but failed. The Republican Jewish Committee (RNC) ran TV advertisements criticizing Obama for allegedly not treating Israel with the respect it deserves. The RNC lost.
    So nominating Hagel may really be an in-your-face answer by Obama to the Israel Lobby and Netanyahu.

    If Hegel is nominated and confirmed, it will be a victory for the Realists and a defeat for the Neoconservatives. If the Israel Lobby manages to defeat Hagel, it may well be a pyrrhic victory for them.

    • Mooser
      January 7, 2013, 11:52 am

      “So nominating Hagel may really be an in-your-face answer by Obama to the Israel Lobby and Netanyahu.”

      TPM reports the Republicans are running TV spots lambasting Obama for nominating “old white men” for his Cabinet!

  14. lysias
    January 6, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Mysteriously, I have seen nothing on this story in the Washington Post for days now. Even today, I didn’t spot anything there.

    • lysias
      January 7, 2013, 10:31 am

      And today, now that it has been confirmed that Obama is going to nominate Hagel, it’s their (the Washington Post‘s) lead story on the front page.

  15. yourstruly
    January 6, 2013, 4:47 pm

    this is it, for aipac?

    something about the common good?

    palestine, just & free?

    upon being guaranteed one person one vote, surprise of surprises, jewish ex-settlers easily adapting to their newly acquired status as mere equals among equals?*

    *with the proviso that justice be done for those found guilty of mass murder & other crimes against humanity

    • Mooser
      January 7, 2013, 11:54 am

      “*with the proviso that justice be done for those found guilty of mass murder & other crimes against humanity

      Well, let’s not forget ordinary civil crimes, and torts. Oh, they may not be hanging offenses, but restitution and supervision (probation) can sometimes do lot’s of good.

  16. American
    January 6, 2013, 5:54 pm

    All sources point to Hagel being named this week. A scan of sites like Lang’s, Military Times, VetsNet, MarineUSA and a few others indicate they are celebrating the nomination.

    “President Obama plans on Monday to nominate Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska and Vietnam War veteran, to lead the Pentagon as Defense secretary, according to two sources familiar with the nomination process. Hagel, 66, served two terms in the Senate from 1997 to 2009, and led an Army infantry squad in Vietnam in 1968. He was wounded in action there and received two Purple Hearts. An administration source confirmed that Hagel’s nomination would be announced Monday. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not been officially announced. ” USA Today

    ———————————

    I thank God Almighty for this. pl

    link to usatoday.com

  17. dbroncos
    January 6, 2013, 6:03 pm

    I’m looking forward to Hagel’s nomination hearings. Israel’s supporters won’t have the good sense to give the “allegiance to Israel” issue a rest. I’m sure reps like Linsay Graham are already calculating the benefit$ of making a big deal out of America’s undying love for Israel by exposing Hagel as someone who hasn’t sufficiently prostrated himself before the Zionist idol. If Hagel lives up to his reputation as an outsider he can answer thier loyalty test questions with the same blount, honest language he’s used in the past: “I serve the interests of America, not Israel.”

  18. Blank State
    January 6, 2013, 8:45 pm

    “Hagel looms — will AIPAC dare to take him on?”

    The question is almost laughable in its irrelevence. The relevent question is whether or not Obama will take AIPAC on. And, of course, spineless sack of sh** that he is, the answer is….

    …0f course not.

  19. chuckcarlos
    January 6, 2013, 9:02 pm

    You betcha they will…

    and a damn good job these whacko nut job Israelis fascists will do too!

    Just like they dealt with Finkelstein, Chomsky, Roger Waters, Mandy Patinkin….

    completely derail their careers they did…in fact Roger Waters only got about 1/2 a billion Brazilians into his concerts last year…

  20. yourstruly
    January 6, 2013, 10:22 pm

    first time the president tells it the way it really is in the middle east?

    who’s on the side of the oppressed, who sides with the oppressor?

    along with no shortage of the “but mr president would such & such a move be in america’s best interests” line of attack?

    real differences in points of view?

    truth will out?

    the public benefits?

    one is never more than a mouse click away?

  21. American
    January 6, 2013, 11:51 pm

    Fred Kaplan) – link to slate.com

    “But the bugaboo issue—the third rail when it comes to foreign policy—is Israel. As a senator, Hagel once complained to a reporter that “the Jewish lobby” intimidates many lawmakers on Capitol Hill. And he once intoned that he was a senator from Nebraska, not a senator from Israel. These may have been impolitic remarks, but they weren’t false—either in strict substance or in spirit.”

    “No one could deny that AIPAC has an overpowering influence on many lawmakers. Hagel’s sin, in the eyes of some, was to call it the “Jewish lobby” instead of the “Israel lobby.” If this is a sin, AIPAC and its allies have brought it on themselves. For decades, they have thundered that criticism of Israel is thinly disguised anti-Semitism. Yet they cry “anti-Semitism” again when someone inverts the equation (which is what the phrase in question amounts to: If anti-Israel equals anti-Jewish, then pro-Israel equals pro-Jewish). As for saying that he’s a senator from Nebraska, not Israel: Had he or any other senator said this about any other country (“I’m not a senator from France … England … Canada” or wherever), no one would have batted an eye. To accuse him of anti-Semitism on these grounds is to reveal a staggeringly deep paranoia—or a sensitivity far too acute to be allowed any role in American politics.”

    Let’s repeat this…..”To accuse him (or anyone) of anti-Semitism on these grounds is to reveal a staggeringly deep paranoia—or a sensitivity far too acute to be allowed any role in American politics.”

    One more time…” a staggeringly deep paranoia —a sensitivity far too acute to be allowed any role in American politics.”

    BUT..it’s not even real paranoia ….it’s a bullshit con game cover for US zionist and Israel.

  22. yonah fredman
    January 7, 2013, 5:38 am

    I tend to doubt that the Joint Chiefs are really calm about an Iranian bomb. They are certainly calmer about it than netanyahu is, but certainly not as calm as people here. It is a decision that will ultimately be made by Obama and I would prefer for him to have the staff that he wants, including Hagel, so that he can make a logical decision about how to handle Iran.

    • seanmcbride
      January 7, 2013, 11:15 am

      yonah fredman,

      I tend to doubt that the Joint Chiefs are really calm about an Iranian bomb.

      Are you quite certain that you understand how people like Martin Dempsey (the head of the JCS) think about Mideast politics?

      There are important strategic thinkers at high levels of the American national security community who think that it might be a good idea for Iran to acquire the bomb — it would probably stabilize the region.

      Another better option would be to remove all nuclear weapons from the region.

      • yonah fredman
        January 8, 2013, 10:38 pm

        sean mcbride- I am not sure how Martin Dempsey or people like him think. The idea that people think that an Iran with a nuke will probably stabilize the region seems preposterous, but one cannot stop people’s brains from travelling in strange directions.

        Removing myself from the Zionist mindset to regards the Middle East as a chess problem of where do we go from here, is really what I meant when I used the phrase the Joint Chiefs. There is little question in my mind that from a chess point of view removing Israel from the board would make the equation more stable. But the tools of chess, and indeed reality, do not include the magic wand. Wishing Israel away or its nukes away will not make it so.

        The Middle East is a crucial area for the world because of its oil. If Israel existed on an island in the Pacific, then worrying about its survival would indeed be justifiable only on cultural grounds and thus not justifiable. but at this moment with the world’s dependence on oil, the middle east is certainly an area that deserves the attention of the world’s policeman. (Most Americans probably wish to disown this role, but as of the moment, it still is America’s role.) Thus worrying about the interplay of the actors in the Middle East including Israel is automatically important to the US. (Indeed those, including Phil Weiss, who cite the fact that Iraq’s oil contracts went to nonAmerican companies are missing the point. The US did not go to war for the US oil industry. The US went to war for the smooth flow of oil to the entire world. (at least according to those who believe that the US went to war for oil or partially for oil.))

        The idea that Iran getting the bomb will stabilize the region seems farfetched to me. The idea that the joint chiefs in their heart of hearts would like to see Israel disappear is not so distant. But given the current state of the Middle East I don’t see how the Iranians getting a bomb can be seen as a positive from the US point of view. (From Syria’s Assad’s point of view or from Hezbollah’s point of view an Iranian bomb is a plus.)

        I bet Morsi of Egypt does not think an Iranian bomb will stabilize the region.

    • irishmoses
      January 7, 2013, 1:36 pm

      Yonah,
      Let me address your concerns about the threat Iran poses to the US with an excerpt from my recent novel Armageddon: Prelude to Disaster in which US President Hailey Corrigan is arguing with her National Security Advisor, Jon Harmon about why the US shouldn’t attack Iran:

      Harmon: “But Madame President, Iran is not a rational actor; it will use the bomb once it gets it.”

      “Jon, the same arguments were used about the Soviet Union and China during the Cold War, and lord knows both of those countries acted irrationally from time to time. Yet, because we had a large nuclear deterrent, neither was ever willing to use a nuclear weapon. Iran is no different, and considering it hasn’t attacked a neighboring country in over 250 years, it seems a lot more rational than a lot of countries that have nuclear weapons, like Pakistan or North Korea.”

      “Well, Madam President, we still have a moral obligation to protect our ally Israel from the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons.”

      “Jon, what about our moral obligation to protect Japan and South Korea who are under a direct existing threat of a nuclear armed North Korea? If you are looking for countries for us to attack Jon, why not start there? North Korea has already tested nuclear bombs, it’s currently testing delivery systems and it has acted extremely irrationally and aggressively in the very recent past. Instead of being a thousand miles away, it shares a border with South Korea and is less than 300 miles from Japan. In terms of relative importance as allies, Japan and South Korea have about 175 million more people than Israel, do seven times more trade with us, and have GDPs about 25 times bigger than Israel’s. Our entire Pacific strategy hinges on these two vital allies. So Jon, before we do Iran, shouldn’t we be taking out North Korea’s existing nuclear weapons stockpile? There’s no question that we could if we wanted to.”

      “We’re not as close to those countries socially and culturally. They don’t have the emotional ties we have with Israel.”

      “Jon, what you seem to be saying is that the lives and welfare of about 180 million Japanese and South Koreans are less important than less than 6 million Israeli Jews because they are somehow socially and culturally inferior to Jews and therefore less worthy of our protection. I think you need to rethink your argument. We need to move on. You can continue with your briefing Ms. Murphy.”

      With apologies for my outrageous self-promotion, the above interchange is fictional but fact-based and I think provides a realistic depiction of how a US president might analyze the threat a nuclear-armed Iran poses to the US.

      Gil Maguire
      http://www.irishmoses.com
      link to amazon.com

    • eljay
      January 8, 2013, 6:49 pm

      >> I tend to doubt that the Joint Chiefs are really calm about an Iranian bomb.

      One can only imagine how calm the Iranians – threatened by a nuclear-armed world superpower and a nuclear-armed regional (and colonialist and expansionist) power – must feel.

  23. MRW
    January 7, 2013, 6:34 am

    I tend to doubt that the Joint Chiefs are really calm about an Iranian bomb.

    Hunh? The Iranians are making nuclear fuel out of gas centrifuges. The JCOS know that. So does everyone with half a brain.

    Newsflash. You need to make a nuclear weapon out of metal. You cannot make a nuclear weapon out of a gas. Iran would have to convert the output of their gas centrifuges from a gas to metal. They don’t have the equipment to do it, and, even if they did, it would take years. Furthermore, any effort to do that is satellite-sensitive.

    The idea is so completely insane–if you understand the processes involved–that invoking this stupidity over and over again does nothing for the supposed Israeli +15IQ. You want to go to war over making a silk purse out of sow’s ear? Jesus, you people are getting dumber and dumber.

    • libra
      January 8, 2013, 5:44 pm

      MRW: Iran would have to convert the output of their gas centrifuges from a gas to metal. They don’t have the equipment to do it, and, even if they did, it would take years.

      MRW, don’t tell anyone else but here’s how it’s done with a thermite reaction. Look at the photographs. Does that equipment look like it would take years to build? And being a thermite reaction, the actual process would take only a matter of hours.

      Of course, you would want to perfect the process, particularly the physical containment aspects, before trying it with highly-radioactive enriched uranium. But if you have enriched uranium to weapons grade then you will have, as a byproduct, plenty of depleted uranium to practise with.

      This is just science, it has no bearing on whether Iran actually intends to produce nuclear weapons. But the uranium hexafluoride used in their gas centrifuges is just an intermediary compound for purposes of enrichment, it has no end use in itself. So all this effort must be to some end. And that end will involve some form of reduction process, either to produce uranium oxide for fuel rods (as they claim) or uranium metal for weapons (which they deny). But it would be naive to believe the Iranians, having mastered gas centrifuge enrichment (which definitely is complex and lengthy), would have difficulty with either reduction route.

      • MRW
        January 10, 2013, 7:10 am

        @Libra

        Read these:
        link to web.ead.anl.gov
        link to chm.bris.ac.uk
        21st Century Science & Technology Journal, Nuclear Report, Fall 2011. Page 44
        link to veteranstoday.com

      • libra
        January 10, 2013, 10:42 am

        MRW: read these

        I have and here’s my response:

        link to web.ead.anl.gov – this is entirely consistent with what I wrote. As clearly show in the fuel cycle digram UF6 is an intermediary form for enrichment and (relatively easy and safe) storage. The final stage is conversion of enriched UF6 to UO2 oxide form for fuel rods (or, not shown uranium metal for weapons). You are implying this final stage is the most difficult. Nothing in this link justifies that.

        link to chm.bris.ac.uk – again this is consistent with what I wrote except it only deals with the stages up to and including enrichment. Other than saying you need enriched uranium metal for a weapon it does not touch upon how the enriched UF6 is reduced to metal. But note it says it is quite complicated to go from uranium ore to UF6 – presumably Iran has mastered that process as well as enrichment. Given that, my view is that it would be well within the capability of the Iranians to master the Ames process to produce uranium metal (if they so wish to go that route).

        
21st Century Science & Technology Journal, Nuclear Report, Fall 2011. Page 44 – This is just an assertion by Clinton Bastin with absolutely no scientific information to back it up. Don’t believe everything you read in popular science magazines, particularly when no details are given to justify a claim.

        If you have any scientific “feel” for the subject then Bastin’s claim immediately sounds incredible. How can producing uranium metal from UF6 be so complex and lengthy a process? With a little bit of independent research using Google I found two things:

        1. Only Clinton Bastin is making the claim that this step is difficult, no one else. The same claim is simply repeated uncritically (and perhaps with further distortion) on all sorts of fringe web sites.

        2. The Ames process for the reduction of UF6 to uranium metal. This directly discredits Bastin’s assertion. Indeed he seems to be unaware of its existence. Rather odd for someone who claims to have had a senior position in the Atomic Energy Commission. Though given his age he might have started to forget things.

        
link to veteranstoday.com – this is just repetition (and possible distortion) of Bastin’s claims. It adds no more than the above science magazine article.

        MRW, focus on the science not on someone else’s unsupported opinion, no matter how well qualified they may seem to be. Read up on the Ames process. Then let me know what don’t you understand about the underlying chemistry? Or why you think it would be so difficult to implement in practice to make relatively small quantities of uranium metal?

      • MRW
        January 11, 2013, 6:09 pm

        @libra,

        I read (OK, skimmed) the Ames Process articles, but it appears to me that it requires UF4 or a uranium halide or salt, and before UF6 is created by another process entirely. In other words, you choose one route or another.

        I called Bastin at home in Atlanta (he’s in the phone book) last March and spoke to him about his articles. I asked him specifically about the UF6 gas to metal issue. He said it could be done with a particular machine or reactor, but that they are highly controlled, Iran could never get their hands on one, and moreover our satellites would see it if they did. He also told me it was an extraordinarily dangerous and lengthy process. As for not having his marbles, hah! The guy is as sharp as a tack. Incidentally, he still works occasionally (people consult with him) even though he is retired. He wrote this fascinating article four years ago in which he is acknowledged as “A veteran nuclear reprocessing expert for the U.S. government.”
        We Need to Reprocess Spent Nuclear Fuel
        link to 21stcenturysciencetech.com

        As for casting aspersion on Bastin, I’m not buying it, and hauling in Veteran’s Today as some reason to debase him (because Jim Dean interviewed him) is ridick. Dismissing the content because you don’t approve of the delivery system is like ditching the meat because you don’t like the menu description.

        You can see one of Clinton Bastin’s job descriptions in this legacy DOE doc:
        link to osti.gov

        To wit:

        Clinton Bastin, Manager, LMR [LIQUID-METAL REACTOR] Reprocessing Projects, Division of Fuels and Reprocessing, Office of Facilities, Fuel Cycle, and Test Programs, NE-471, Department of Energy, Washington, DC 20545

        I’m sure he’s aware of the Ames Process. After all, it was invented in 1942. Why don’t you call him and ask?

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