Hagel hearing set for next Thursday as Jewish Dems line up in support

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Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing is set for next Thursday, January 31. The vetting of Chuck Hagel at times seems to be an all-Jewish affair. JTA reports on Jewish seals of approval for Hagel, emphasizing the Israel angle:

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) yesterday became the latest pro-Israel Jewish Democrat to say Chuck Hagel should get the secretary of defense job: “Senator Hagel and I had a constructive meeting, during which he answered a wide range of questions and allayed many of my concerns. Senator Hagel clarified his position on Iran sanctions and Israel, and I am confident he is firmly committed to ensuring a strong U.S.-Israel relationship… “

Other top Jewish Senate Dems on board: Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who heads the Armed Services Committee; Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.); Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who authored last year’s enhanced security relationship act; Chuck Shumer (D-N.Y.), who likes to call himself a “guardian” of Israel.

While Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) are opposing Hagel, the power game here has taken place inside the Jewish establishment. The crucial Chuck Schumer approval statement was almost all about Israel:

In our meeting Monday, Senator Hagel clarified a number of his past statements and positions and elaborated on several others.

On Iran, Senator Hagel rejected a strategy of containment and expressed the need to keep all options on the table in confronting that country. But he didn’t stop there. In our conversation, Senator Hagel made a crystal-clear promise that he would do “whatever it takes” to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including the use of military force. He said his “top priority” as Secretary of Defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran….

On Hezbollah, Senator Hagel stressed that-notwithstanding any letters he refused to sign in the past-he has always considered the group to be a terrorist organization.

On Hamas, I asked Senator Hagel about a letter he signed in March 2009 urging President Obama to open direct talks with that group’s leaders.

In response, Senator Hagel assured me that he today believes there should be no negotiations with Hamas, Hezbollah or any other terrorist group until they renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Senator Hagel volunteered that he has always supported Israel’s right to retaliate militarily in the face of terrorist attacks by Hezbollah or Hamas…

The JTA also posts this video from the Republican Jewish Coalition that virtually accuses Hagel of anti-Semitism and that relies on “Jewish and elected officials” who are concerned about Hagel, including Rep. Eliot Engel and former Senator Joe Lieberman (identified as a Democrat here):

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