Jeez — is Hagel’s tie supposed to look like the Israeli flag?

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Chuck Hagel at the ADL

Chuck Hagel at the ADL

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel walks back just about every critical word he’s ever said about Israel and the lobby, in an address to the Anti Defamation League centennial gathering. He’s even wearing a white tie with blue stripes. Egad. And notice that he speaks of the Iran threat in the context of Yad Vashem, and the Holocaust, echoing Israeli fears. I assume this is tactical– we’re not going to attack Iran– but it’s still upsetting. Excerpts:

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Middle East, where the United States and our allies are facing an unprecedented set of complex challenges.

For Israel, this shifting landscape has brought new threats and new dynamics.  Even as Israel takes important steps toward peace and the two-state solution, these challenges remain on its borders.  There are no margins for Israel.

Egypt’s future remains uncertain.  There is a humanitarian crisis in Syria, along with disease and hunger compounding the scourge of sectarian violence and civil war.  These challenges demand unprecedented cooperation between the United States and Israel.

Israel’s self-defense capabilities and its qualitative military edge are central to both Israel and U.S. security interests.  The United States has provided important support for Israel’s Iron Dome system, which has proven very successful in protecting Israeli citizens.

And earlier this year, the United States reached a historic agreement, an agreement to open up even more advanced military capabilities to Israel.  One of these capabilities is the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft that will greatly enhance the range and effectiveness of Israeli special forces.

Tonight, I am pleased to announce that we are working with the Israeli government to provide them with six new V-22s.  I have directed the Marine Corps to make sure that this order is expedited.  That means Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line, and they will be compatible with other IDF capabilities.

The Israeli and American defense relationship is stronger than ever.  That isn’t due just to where I am at my time.  That’s due to previous secretaries of defense., Panetta, Gates, all the previous secretaries, this organization, the American people, our Congress, past presidents – we’ve all worked together to strengthen this relationship.

Another area of our common security interests is preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The United States is presently testing Iranian intentions for a diplomatic solution.  As we engage Iran along with our partners, we are very clear-eyed about the reality in the Middle East.  Iran is a state sponsor of terror, responsible for spreading hatred and extremism throughout the region.

But foreign policy is not a zero-sum game.  If we can find ways to resolve disputes peacefully, we are wise to explore them.

Engagement is not appeasement, nor is it containment.  We know what those are, we know where they lead, and we will not pursue them.

And President Obama has repeatedly made clear that words are not enough.  Action must match words.

We understand why this is so important to so many people.  Because we’ve all been to Yad Vashem.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to revisit Yad Vashem.  I had been there before, but this time was special for, because I brought my son, Ziller, with me.  I wanted him to see the harsh realities of the depths of evil, and the beautiful tribute to the victims of the past.  Yad Vashem is an instruction for future generations – like all great memorials.  A warning to never ever again stand idly by in the face of hatred and bigotry.

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