In recent days Commentary has published two pieces rallying opposition to Chuck Hagel by Jonathan Tobin. First this one, “Jewish Groups Must End Silence on Hagel.” Then this one, urging pro-Israel Democrats to end their support. Reading them, I was struck by Tobin’s implicit commandment for Jews to support Israel– and he includes Jewish donors and Jews in elected office. Tobin ends with a summons to pro-Israel Democrats to live up to “the cause they have pledged to protect.” And the only Democrat Tobin names is Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish and claims to be Israel’s guardian.
It seems to me that Tobin is directing his appeals to a Jewish lobby, not just an Israel lobby– but Chuck Hagel himself has been called an anti-Semite for speaking of a Jewish lobby. And Tobin’s pledged-to-a-pro-Israel cause wording raises the age-old criticism of Zionists by anti-Zionists: they foster dual loyalty.
Tobin’s first editorial:
the reluctance of most major Jewish organizations, including the influential Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and AIPAC to take a stand on Hagel was rooted in their unwillingness to step into what had become a partisan fight….
But with this latest proof of Hagel’s hateful mindset about Israel and the fact that the nomination no longer seems quite so inevitable ought to cause the organized Jewish world to reassess their silence. This is especially true since some pro-Israel Democrats have used this failure of the Jewish groups to speak out as cover for their own decision to go along with the president’s poor choice.
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that had a Republican president nominated a man to lead the Pentagon who had been quoted saying the things that Hagel has said and who had such a poor record on Israel and Iran, the Democratic donors to major Jewish groups would be screaming for the organizations to pull out the stops to prevent that person from taking office. But Hagel’s crack about the Israeli foreign ministry should convince even the most partisan liberal Democrats that they can’t give their party a pass on this issue.
If Jewish groups speak out now in the aftermath of the cloture vote the Hagel nomination will collapse. The president may not like it but the longer this goes on the less defensible his choice for the Pentagon has proved to be. The time is now for Jewish Democrats to end this farce and send Hagel back into retirement where he can say as many hateful things about Jews and Israel either on or off the record as he likes.
Some of the pro-Israel senators like Chuck Schumer who have been using the silence of mainstream Jewish groups about his nomination as cover for their decision to go along with what they knew was a questionable choice are now on the spot. As John [Podhoretz] wrote in the New York Post on Friday, it’s time for Schumer to live up to his boast that he was the “guardian” of Israel in the Senate…..
In the coming days, the calls for Hagel to withdraw will grow. So, too, will the pressure on pro-Israel Democrats to stop acting as the nominee’s guardian rather than [guardians of] the cause they have pledged to protect.