One of the most shocking and clarifying things about the Chuck Hagel nomination is the degree to which neoconservative warmongers have had to shed the pretense that they are interested in anything but Israel. I always said this was their core concern; that Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz became neoconservatives because of importance of American military support for Israel, that the neocons pushed the Iraq war in part because Saddam had attacked Israel. Now Bill Kristol, who of course heads the Emergency Committee for Israel, and who had once bragged of purging the Republican Party of Arabists, shows that his only concern about Hagel is Israel:
Hagel claimed, his record shows “unequivocal, total support for Israel.”
This is unequivocal, total nonsense.
Chuck Hagel was once proud not to be numbered among the “unequivocal, total” supporters of Israel. Hagel was once proud of his standing as a lonely figure in American public life who would stand up to those who unequivocally and totally supported Israel. Hagel was once a senator who, unlike his colleagues, was proud not to have been intimidated by “the Jewish lobby.” Hagel was proud of his votes against pro-Israel resolutions backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), aka “the Jewish lobby.” Hagel was contemptuous of those who signed AIPAC-endorsed pro-Israel letters.
No, Chuck Hagel was not one of those “unequivocal, total” supporters of Israel like his colleagues in the United States Senate. No siree!
Idrees Ahmad writes:
This kind of piece might be useful for rallying the troops, but I wonder how it is received by the wider public (assuming it reads the Weekly Standard). Kristol is saying that the only acceptable position is to be an ‘unequivocal’ supporter of Israel and in his view Hagel has fallen short. Is this indictment likely to persuade the average non-Israel-right-or-wrong American that Hagel is a horrible person? Or is the function of Weekly Standard simply to relay the Israel lobby’s markers to the political class?
And what about the rest of the Hagel discourse, where he boasts that he’s not a senator from Israel and the like? Was it all just a rare moment of Hagelian insensitivity?
So it was insensitive for Hagel to suggest that others (neocons) care about Israel? But what about if those others actually tilted our foreign policy. Echoing Kristol, Jennifer Rubin reminds readers of what I have often also reminded readers of, that Schumer has called himself a guardian for Israel:
So maybe Schumer figured this is an easy give to the White House and he can afford to drop his “guard” duty for Israel. ( ”He repeats ad nauseam that his name derives from the Hebrew word “shomer” (guard).”) But wait. Schumer here risks stepping out (or being pushed out) too soon, and opening the door to potential rivals to seize the mantle of sober leadership on the Middle East. A longtime Democratic operative with a pro-Israel group told me he was surprised Schumer got pushed out so soon given how numerous the issues about Hagel’s record and comments are. “When you have a series of these death bed — confirmation bed — conversions you really have to wait for the hearings. His [Hagel’s] veracity is yet to be tested.”
As Steve Walt has said, Since when did it become an oath of office for a federal official to support a foreign country? I have to believe the neocons have hurt themselves here; and maybe Americans will actually embrace Hagel’s statement that he’s not a senator for Israel:
‘I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.’ I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States — not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that. Now I know most senators don’t talk like I do.”
But even Chris Matthews is avoiding this central issue. He describes the neocons as “hawks” these days, eliding them with all Republican militarists, and last night on his show Sam Stein of Huffington Post described some of the Democrats’ questions of Hagel on Iran and Israel as “legitimate concerns.” This is a measure of how deeply enmeshed the Israel lobby is in the Democratic Party. Hagel’s pathetic declaration of support for Israel came in a letter to Barbara Boxer, a liberal Senator from California, who is Jewish. Or there’s Democratic operative Ann Lewis, who once said, apropos of the Middle East conflict, “The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel.” Wait, maybe that is not our role? Maybe people are waking up to this delusion?