‘Time’ embarrasses Hagel’s Senate questioners for Israel focus

Israel/Palestine
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Time magazine index of Israel mentions Hagel hearing
Time magazine index of Israel mentions Hagel hearing

Time Magazine online asks the obvious question about Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing last week, why did the Senators refer constantly to Israel, 106 times, and barely mention Afghanistan (and the issue of military suicides, twice). In “Just Who Do They Represent: At Hagel Hearing, Concern for Israel Tops U.S. Troops in Combat,” author Brandon Friedman, a veteran, doesn’t take the next step and address the Israel lobby, but we get it.

[Utah Senator Mike] Lee—by himself—made reference to Israel and its security a total of 16 times.

Why is this important? It’s important because Lee never mentioned Afghanistan and the 66,000 U.S. troops at war there.

And Lee was not alone.

Freshman Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also grilled Hagel about Israel. He mentioned the Jewish state 10 times—without ever once referring to Afghanistan or the U.S. troops in combat there.

When it was their turn to question Hagel, GOP senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Roger Wicker of Mississippi each referred to Israel in a half dozen instances.  Neither mentioned Afghanistan.

In nearly eight hours of interrogation and testimony, Israel and its interests were referred to by the Senate Armed Services Committee a total of 106 times. On the other hand, there were a mere 24 references made to Afghanistan and the Americans fighting there—most by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the committee.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan—where the U.S. frequently targets militants with drone-launched Hellfire missiles—barely merited mention at all.

It’s difficult to interpret this message any other way: the Senate Armed Services Committee—particularly its Republican membership—is more concerned with the apparent American defense secretary’s relationship with Israel than with the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the fate of U.S. troops engaged in both locations.

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