In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last Thursday, Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel was forced to eat his words, describing Palestinians as caged animals:
Sen. [Mike] LEE [Republican of Utah]: OK, Senator, my time’s expired. I need to ask you one more question. I understand that you have made a statement indicating that there is no justification for Palestinian suicide bombers but that there is also no justification for Israel to, quote, “keep Palestinians caged up like animals,” close quote. Did you say that, and if so, do you stand by that statement today?
Mr. HAGEL: Well, I said it. And I don’t remember the context or when I said it. But if I —
Sen. LEE: Do you believe today that Israel keeps Palestinians caged up like animals?
Mr. HAGEL: No, if I had an opportunity to edit that, like many things I’ve said, I would — I would like to go back and change the words and the meaning. No, it was, I think, in a larger context. I’ve said many, many things over many years. It was a larger context of the frustration in what’s happening, which is not in Israel’s interest, to find ways that we can help bring peace and security to Israel. If I — if I had a chance to go back and edit it, I would. I regret that I used those words.
Sen. LEE: Thank you.
Mr. HAGEL: Thank you.
Max Blumenthal directs me to Yoav Shamir’s film “Checkpoint,” and a laughing Israeli soldier in the clip, above, at 5:00:
Animals. Animals. Like the Discovery Channel. All of Ramallah is a jungle. There are monkeys, dogs, gorillas. The problem is that the animals are locked, they can’t come out. We’re humans, they’re animals. They aren’t humans, we are… [on being told by fellow soldier that he is being filmed] I don’t care what people think. The chief of staff can see it for all I care.
So we don’t have anything like a free discourse in this country.