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Obama scared AIPAC into silence, then defeated it

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I am not one for admitting I am wrong but sometimes the evidence is so overwhelming that I have to say it. I was wrong.

I have been repeatedly wrong when I said that the Israel lobby could not be defeated unless and until the President of the United States confronted it directly. In that situation, I always knew the United States would prevail. But I did not understand that a deft president could beat the lobby through indirect means – by quietly using his authority to prevail.

That is what happened when the Obama administration first nominated and then achieved the confirmation of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.

There, of course, are those who accept the line put out by the lobby, most notably its main component AIPAC, that it was neutral on Hagel.

That is just silly. If AIPAC was neutral, it could have ended the whole battle against him by issuing a statement that it recognized a president’s right to choose his own cabinet. That might not have stopped Republican groups like Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee For Israel or Sheldon Adelson’s Republican Jewish Coalition from pursuing its smear campaign against Hagel but it would have stopped the very mainstream American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League from joining the attack. AIPAC’s public silence on a campaign waged by its closest allies demonstrated what it wanted: Hagel’s defeat. So did the fact that it supplied the anti-Hagel senators with the “information” it used to bludgeon him with at his kangaroo court of a confirmation hearing.

President Obama outsmarted the lobby by ignoring it. He knew that if he could get Sen. Chuck Schumer to endorse Hagel, then the game would be over. That is because he, as a Jew and New York’s senior senator, is the de facto head of the lobby’s forces in Congress.

A reflexive lobby man, Schumer might have been expected to oppose Hagel and thereby give a signal to his fellow Democrats that doing so was the only safe position. Had he done that some Democrats would have feared not opposing Hagel. With most Republicans already on record as opposing his nomination, just a shift of a few Democrats would have killed the nomination. Schumer’s announcement in support of Hagel guaranteed that not a single Democrat would oppose him.

So what convinced Schumer to stand with Obama on Hagel? My friends on Capitol Hill, who without exception correctly predicted Schumer’s position, tell me that it was made clear to him that he could not oppose Obama on Hagel and still expect to become leader of Senate Democrats when Harry Reid retires. No threats were made because none needed to be made. Schumer was simply led to understand that he was not getting a pass on this one. Add to that the unprecedented public campaign supporting Hagel. This time the lobby did not have the field to itself. With veterans’ organizations, former Secretaries of State and Defense, and retired generals speaking out in support of the former Nebraska senator, the lobby was out-flanked.

And so Hagel was confirmed. The lobby was defeated. And its friends are devastated.

In a Jewish Tablet piece called, “How AIPAC is Losing” the militant lobby supporter Lee Smith asks “just how powerful is AIPAC if a man who refers to it as the ‘Jewish lobby’ and has defiantly claimed that he is not an “Israeli senator” is slated to be our next secretary of Defense?”

And, most significantly, how much influence does the lobbying organization actually exercise if it can’t carry the day on the single issue that’s been at the very top of its agenda for over a decade: stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Despite an operating budget of more than $60 million, on the most crucial issue facing Israel’s security, AIPAC has lost the policy debate. The winners include those who believe you can’t stop a nation from getting the bomb if it’s determined to do so, those who think the Iranians have a right to nuclear weapons, and those who argue the Iranians can be contained—among them, our new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

In other words, the lobby is not all-powerful. A determined president can defeat it, a lesson Obama will bear in mind in the future, particularly in reference to the lobby’s singular focus on war with Iran.

But will Hagel’s presence make a difference? Who knows? But we do know this: a win is a win. And so is a defeat.

I was wrong. The lobby can be beaten. Obama scared it into public silence and then defeated it. Nice work, work that will only become easier as younger Jews, and the non-Orthodox 90%, continue to abandon a lobby that is at variance with their liberal worldview. Ethnic chauvinism is on the rise in Israel (along with its twin, racism) but not here. Israel’s “demographic problem” can be solved by withdrawing from the occupied areas. The same can’t be said of AIPAC’s problem. Like the Republican Party, its base is growing smaller and narrower every day.

This post first appeared on MJ Rosenberg’s blog yesterday.

M.J. Rosenberg

During a long career in Washington, M.J. Rosenberg worked as a Senate and House aide, at the State Department, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), at Israel Policy Forum, and at Media Matters For America.

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52 Responses

  1. BillM on March 8, 2013, 12:54 pm

    And then Obama held a “diverse” meeting on Israel and Palestine consisting of only leaders of Jewish organizations, in order to prepare for his trip to Israel which is entirely without substantive policy but pledges his friendship to Bibi and helps strengthen his floundering government, all the while keeping the money spigots open.

    Take that, lobby!

    • Krauss on March 9, 2013, 3:12 am

      Good counter.

      Hagel’s been so neutered that it does not matter at all that he’s elected. His job is now to manage the downsizing of the Pentagon.

      MJ himself admits that if Schumer would have opposed, Hagel would not have been confirmed. Even if his personal ambition was used against him, I doubt that he’d let it override any sentiment towards the lobby. If Hagel was unrepentant, Schumer would have gone negative and the lobby would have won.

      Finally, let us not forget that the entire hearing was 99.99% focused on Israel. That in itself is a confirmation of the lobby’s power.

      Or when the Israeli general consul decided that it was to be known that he was “okay” with Hagel, which is really stunning. The assumption is that his opinion, as a representative of a foreign power, really matters as to who should be nominated in America to senior positions. But he’s right about that assumption and that hasn’t changed.

    • CloakAndDagger on March 9, 2013, 9:28 pm

      I think that we are looking at this the wrong way. The perceived victory or defeat of the lobby is irrelevant in the scheme of things. The only question is whether the confirmation of Hagel to the role of SOD will have any impact vis-a-vis Israel and I-firsters in our government.

      In this grand game of chess, sacrificing rooks and bishops in order to queen your pawns is all part of the strategy.

      Here is what we know:

      – Obama wanted Hagel as SOD. He knew all about his past. His team vetted Hagel and must have anticipated the outcry from I-firsters everywhere. His team knew about the howls of protest that would emanate from congress and the tough fight that would ensue. They knew that there would be opposition from the ranks of the Democrats themselves, and certainly the Republicans, and yet, the WH did not once waver on continuing to push forward when the outcry began. Clearly, it was critical for Obama to appoint Hagel. He could have chosen a number of others that were proposed by I-firsters, who would have been easily confirmed – yet he stuck to his guns behind Hagel. Why?

      – *Every* Democrat in the senate, including Schumer, supported Hagel despite the misgivings of the I-firsters. We don’t know what was said to them in private or what was promised to them. We don’t know if a public recantation by Hagel was demanded in exchange for their support – kissing the ring of Mordor, if you will.

      – Even several of the more violently opposed Republicans toned down their objections towards the end of the hearings – either because they felt that they were losing and didn’t want to dig a deeper hole, or because they were assured in some way that Hagel was not a threat.

      – Hagel repented in public. Hagel groveled before the senate. Hagel did a complete Galileo. Hagel was confirmed.

      – Some say the lobby won because Hagel was defanged in the process and rendered ineffective to do anything of substance in the future. Some say the lobby lost because despite their best efforts and marketing, they were unable to prevent Hagel’s confirmation.

      – Hagel is now Sec. Defense and rules the Pentagon and its vast budget.

      Here is what I believe:

      – I don’t like Obama, but Obama is not a stupid man. He was naive and inexperienced when he seized the mantle of the presidency and delivered his wonderful Cairo speech. He soon found out that the dark forces were too powerful to defeat in open conflict, and he had to retreat from his grand offensive with his tail between his legs, whimpering and cowering. For the rest of his first term, he was repeatedly humiliated and it was never clear if he would get a second term, however, being an intelligent man, he learned from his defeat.

      – Obama knows that he cannot defeat the I-firsters out in the open. In a fight of rhetorics and media campaigns, they would sweep the floor with his carcass. If he is to make any difference, whether out of patriotism to this country, or to his own selfish desire to leave a legacy, he must do this by stealth. He has to steal a page from the lobby’s own book.

      – He needs to have people who have the same desires as he does in key roles in the machinery in order to effect change, stealthily and in the cover of darkness.

      – Words and rhetorics mean nothing. He can swear allegiance to Israel vocally and frequently. He can threaten war on Iran at every turn. He can even promise the continuance of aid to Israel despite budget shortfalls, after all, it is congress that holds the purse strings.

      And while everyone’s attention is fixated on the conjurer’s attractive assistant on the stage, a great game is afoot, hidden from the view of the spectators.

      Stay tuned.

  2. Chu on March 8, 2013, 1:01 pm

    The Rise of Schumer to head the Senate Democrats really makes me ill.I’m sure he laid out a list of imperatives for Hagel regardless of his desire for that bigger seat.

    Anyone know why he photo-bombed the inauguration? Was that symbolic and who was meant to see this blatant display of excess?

  3. MarkF on March 8, 2013, 1:12 pm

    Ads are up in the D.C. Metro touting “Jewish and proud and AIPAC does not speak for me”. Waiting for a train today I saw a guy snap a picture of the ad. He seemed quite “proud” of it.

    Pretty nice thing to see heading to work.

    Slowly but surely folks are waking up.

    • on March 9, 2013, 2:54 am

      MarkF – “Folks are waking up”
      Some are, but certainly not this “Jewish and proud” crowd.
      Fake nationalism. I’ll insist on fake. Just like the Zionists. What on earth are they thinking if not “Jewish race”?

      • MarkF on March 11, 2013, 9:24 am

        “Some are, but certainly not this “Jewish and proud” crowd.”

        It’s a start. It’s pressure from within, trying to wrestle power away from the f-nut crazy right-wingers that drive this insane foreign policy. It’s not perfect, but pragmatically, it’s better than the alternative to what’s there now.

        If these “proud” folks can contribute to putting the brakes on a war with Iran, I’ll take it.

      • on March 11, 2013, 9:59 pm

        MarkF – “If these “proud” folks can contribute to putting the brakes on a war with Iran, I’ll take it.”

        You’re right; I had not given enough attention to that aspect of it.

        The price of that service, though, is not negligible: that of having the boycott movement in the hands of people with swords at the river ford ordering everyone to say “shibboleth”, taking your head off when some clueless ethnic drunk calls you “Antisemitic”.

  4. Nevada Ned on March 8, 2013, 1:17 pm

    A lot of young Jewish women are feminists, and with few exceptions they hate the orthodox Jews for their flaming male chauvinism. When I lived in NYC long ago, one young Jewish woman acquaintance routinely referred to the orthodox as “fascists”.
    As another example, consider the outspoken Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, who abhors religion, all religion, which she sees as “the eternal enemy of human happiness and freedom”.

    • aiman on March 9, 2013, 1:05 am

      Good, but did these feminists have anything to say about the secular Labor party? Condeming the orthodox or religion is a convenient distraction. The religious who are deluded did not receive revelations from God but from the state.

    • Krauss on March 9, 2013, 3:14 am

      I think a lot of older bigots, like David Brooks, will defend them continously as he sees them upholding the kind of fantasies that he himself holds dear(flagrant ethnocentrism, for one).

      The main dividing line will be based on gender.

    • K Renner on March 10, 2013, 3:48 am

      In this case, how are they going to help the Palestinians? It sounds to be as though they would be in favour of the brutal “secularist” elements of Israeli society that cheer Palestinian deaths as much, if not more, than the overly religious orthodox jews.

  5. W.Jones on March 8, 2013, 1:24 pm

    “he could not oppose Obama on Hagel and still expect to become leader of Senate Democrats when Harry Reid retires.”
    How would that be avoided. And if it is not avoided, hasn’t this meant a compromise was reached where, although a SOD who probably harbors independent views was confirmed after professing fealty, the Lobby took a step forward by having its point man become Senate leader?

  6. radii on March 8, 2013, 1:36 pm

    AIPAC was defeated on Hagel but in a procedural – the real win comes when it’s a straight-up fight over policy

  7. doug on March 8, 2013, 1:40 pm

    MJ’s argument would be a lot more convincing if the Hagel hadn’t had to effectively kiss the ring during his hearings. AIPAC is saving its dry powder for Iran.

    • doug on March 8, 2013, 2:02 pm

      Holy cow. I just heard Limbaugh riff on the Neo’s pushback of Rand Paul’s “filibuster.” Basically, he thinks the neoconservatives are scared of Paul. Are the conservative, neocon co-opted, repubs breaking? Limbaugh breaking with the neos.? I sure hope so. That’s a delicious food fight.

      • MarkF on March 11, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Doug, big thanks. I just googled it and heard what Rush said. Sounds huge to me. The guy has millions of listeners. I’ve thought the best way to get rid of the neocons is from within. The republicans need to kick those fools out. Only problem is they tend to migrate as a whole. Next stop would be back with the democrats.

        Great catch. Phil needs to check this out.

  8. Oklahoma farmer on March 8, 2013, 1:41 pm

    I don’t consider it much of a loss for AIPAC when they are going to be rewarded with Mr Isrfaeli-firster himself, Chuck Schumer, as leader of Senate Democrats.

    Rosenberg needs to rethink his thinking again.

    • Frankie P on March 9, 2013, 1:12 am

      @Oklahoma farmer,

      M.J. Rosenberg does NOT need to rethink his thinking again. People who read him need to understand his thinking. M.J. Rosenberg would like Israel to retain its position in regards to the “special relationship.” He would like Israel to continue to receive billions in US taxpayer dollars that are sorely needed at home. M.J. Rosenberg wants Sen. Chuck Shumer to become leader of Senate Democrats. M.J. Rosenberg has a great fear that the great unwashed American population of goys is going to suddenly wake up and then all American Jews, even “good Jews” like himself, Phil Weiss, etc. will be in trouble. So basically, M. J. is a “liberal Zionist.” He wants to have his cake and eat it too. And to continue eating the cake, and to allow Israel to continue eating America’s cake, he feels that it is necessary to throw two groups under the bus: the first group is Netanyahu and his fascist land-grabbers in Israel, and the second is the Israel first, fascist, right wing American Jews like Bill Kristol and his Emergency Committee For Israel or Sheldon Adelson and his Republican Jewish Coalition. In M. J.’s eyes, they go too far. He actually believes that if Israel returned to the pragmatic, centrist policies of past Labor governments, there would be a chance for peace, ignoring the fact that past Labor governments NEVER had pragmatic, centrist policies or acted in a pragmatic, centrist manner towards the Palestinians. He seeks to draw clear lines between the “evil, right wing” ethnocentrists, and the “liberal, humanitarian” ethnocentrists. I know, I know, you can’t be a “liberal, humanitarian” and an ethnocentrist at the same time, but there it is.


    • on March 9, 2013, 3:03 am

      Oklahoma – Mr Rosenberg sounds like any Obamabot. When the Democratic ‘Party” gains some arcane advantage in seats or power play or whatever maneuvers; it’s immediate triumphalism. ‘The Lobby lost” when we are even more subservient to the Shitty Little Country, just because Obama appointed somebody…
      I’ll agree that the fight made a dent in the lobby’s public image among the general population, but it also worsened our ass-licking of the Zionist entity.
      But a Democratic party “victory” means way more effective power to the Zionists.

  9. pabelmont on March 8, 2013, 1:49 pm

    A “deft president could beat the lobby through indirect means – by quietly using his authority to prevail.” QUIET!

    The other quiet way Obama can seek to defeat AIPAC, sabotage the Israeli settlement project, and move toward peace, is to quietly (that is, by secret diplomacy) tell the EU and others that the USA would not object (beyond pro forma) to their applying trade sanctions aimed at getting israel out of the Golan and West Bank. For instance, as a starter, refusing admission to trade goods grown or produced in whole or in part in occupied territories by Israeli people or companies. (Trade with Palestinian companies should be encouraged.)

    NB: But that’s just as a starter. If Israel does not remove the settlers (whether or not they produce anything) and wall, the trade sanctions should after a suitable waiting period aim — not at trade directly connected to occupation but — at all Israeli trade.

  10. Jeff Klein on March 8, 2013, 2:26 pm

    As my mother used to say: “From your mouth to God’s ear.”
    The Arabs have a like expression:
    Min tummak la baab issama – “From your lips to the Gate of Heaven”

  11. gloopygal on March 8, 2013, 3:13 pm

    If Obama defeated the Lobby, why did Hagel capitulate afterwards?

  12. Taxi on March 8, 2013, 3:16 pm

    I dunno – a few more nuts need cracking before you can comfortably claim the “lobby” is weak.

    It’s weakening, yes, as clearly displayed by the Hagel saga, but it still has a big bad row of fangs in it’s big mouth.

    It seems that Obama is freed-up enough now, in his second term, to return to displaying his ‘personal style’ of governance. He told a group of jewish leaders yesterday re Iran: “I’m not going to do extra chest beating just so people think I’m tough,” the president said.,0,36894.story

    Marvelous use of the word “extra” – don’t you think, mondofolks?

  13. Citizen on March 8, 2013, 3:26 pm

    Did AIPAC really lose? Hagel, as US new Defense head, confirmed he would do all he could do in his new slot to assure Israel gets its foreign aid money, the biggest chunk of it of all, despite the sequester fight. Hagel put a lot on the record at his hearing. None of what he said harmed the special relationship with Israel, nor did it harm AIPAC. All of it can be pulled out of the had at any time by AIPAC. Hagel’s honesty, in light of his prior statements about the lobby, is therefore easily to be demolished if he gets uppity. And now Obama is headed to Israel, and has announced he’s bringing no peace plan in his pocket, but rather he’s just going there to talk, knowing Netanyahu does not have a coalition yet with which to govern. Gaza leaders have said they would welcome him, but he’s only speaking to Israeli officials and Abbas, the Vichey France guy of Palestine.

    Maybe the expression more apropos is “From your lips to Heaven’s Gate”? Kool-aid, anyone?

    Watch for news about what Obama, Kerry, or Hagel say about the settlements. Or, more likely, watch how they say nothing at all about the settlements.

  14. Kathleen on March 8, 2013, 3:39 pm

    “Schumer was simply led to understand that he was not getting a pass on this one. ” As he did being one of the leaders in the pac taking Charles Freeman.

    We know that Obama would like to witness a fair deal for the Palestinians but was kicked solidly in the cajones during his first term. One just keeps hoping that Obama who made it to the inside and up the ladder relatively fast is figuring out how to play the I lobby and Israel against themselves. Looks like it happened in the case of Hagel but why is Hagel still prostrating himself (that bear hug or tackle of Ehud Barak the other day) before the I lobby and Israel. He all ready publicly humiliated himself during the hearing does he need to keep doing that? He is in.

    Man hug Hagel and Barak

    And these shit eating . All right all ready. We get the message you all love each other in public

  15. seafoid on March 8, 2013, 4:15 pm

    It all depends on what Hagel does from now on.

  16. wondering jew on March 8, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Chuck Schumer chose to be a loyal Democrat rather than the leader of the opposition. I had expected a bit of hesitancy on Schumer’s part, maybe even a type of abstention, but Obama clarified to Schumer that nothing less than full fledged support was necessary. Thus the battle was fought and won.

    It will be interesting to see what will happen with Iran. I cannot imagine Obama attacking Iran. I don’t follow the negotiations closely enough to see what the US (Obama) might offer Iran as a face saving measure that will allow for a compromise.

  17. Avi_G. on March 8, 2013, 4:25 pm

    I’m not convinced.

    MJ is suggesting that Obama used Schumer as a backdoor way to the Lobby.

    But that still doesn’t guarantee that, for example, there was no backroom deal struck. Who’s to say, for example, that Obama didn’t tell chuck that he would give Israel all the bunker busters it wants in exchange for this one little favor, vis-a-vis Hagel? Who knows, perhaps Obama thought that clout and political capital are more important than national interests.

    Given the track record of each of the actors involved, a lot more information should factor into MJ’s evaluation than he’s presented.

    In addition, MJ’s argument presupposes that everything is what it appears to be. Things rarely work that way in politics, especially when so many actors are involved (Israel, White House, Lobby, the Chicago Jewish political establishment, National Security, etc.).

    But like Jeff Klein wrote above, it doesn’t hurt to be hopeful. I’m merely being realistic.

  18. ivri on March 8, 2013, 4:36 pm

    So what else is new? Nobody can be expected to retain a powerful position indefinitely. The point is though that AIPAC may not be that critical anymore given that the political establishment (both parties) is already sold on Israel for a host of reasons including AIPAC persuasion efforts over a very long time. In politics you can become a victim of your success and that may be happening to AIPAC now.

  19. stopaipac on March 8, 2013, 4:39 pm

    Hagel becoming Sec of Defense under Obama (who just sent a message to aipac via Biden that he remains loyal to them) was not much of a defeat.

    a real defeat would be if they lost on the sanctions/yes to israel bombing Iran Senate resolution. that is not likely the case. Sen Res. 65 already has the co-sponsorship of 46 of 100 Senators.

  20. MHughes976 on March 8, 2013, 4:51 pm

    Obama has made it clear that he is President and Netanyahu is not. But this defence of the rights of his office is not the same thing as defeating Netanyahu’s agents when it comes to ME policy. This has yet to happen. Hagel had to make all sorts of pledges to get his job. We will see what they’re worth.

  21. Blank State on March 8, 2013, 4:54 pm

    “And so Hagel was confirmed. The lobby was defeated”

    ROFLMAO!!!! Yeah right. They made a meally mouthed eunich out oif Hagel, Biden is swimming in his own drool while servicing the donkey before an AIPAC audience, and now it is decreed that Obama “defeated” AIPAC?

    Egads, are you daft, man?

  22. DICKERSON3870 on March 8, 2013, 5:10 pm

    RE: “the militant lobby supporter Lee Smith” ~ M.J. Rosenberg

    MY COMMENT: That’s quite eloquent, but “militant” might be a bit of an understatement. The words “bellicose” and “truculent” come to mind.

  23. blg432 on March 8, 2013, 5:37 pm

    This is exactly the type of article that needed to be written. The events surrounding the Hagel confirmation speaks directly to power within the beltway. MJ Rosenberg acknowledges some conjecture, but he is looking at the people who were assuaged and the people who were ignored. Let us be reminded that this site reported on the White House’s efforts to lobby AIPAC This fits in with a message MJ Rosenberg mentioned earlier on how AIPAC “chooses to keep the Hagel onslaught going in order to show who is in charge. “This is what we can do.”

    AIPAC certainly remembers the black eyes it endured in 1992 from the attention it received with the public fight both with Bush and Rabin, and it does not appreciate the spotlight. Obama’s strength may have been in recognizing this. Certainly there has been relatively intense coverage of this from SNL jokes, to Bill Maher, to news outlets and blog reporting. None of this is good for the nightflower, and to increase the pressure would have been quite visible under all this scrutiny. AIPAC certainly does not want this much visibility. A tactical delaying action of sorts, as AIPAC could not mount a full attack with its support in the Senate eroded and its actions scrutinized by many. Even still, it was assuaged by the White House.

  24. joemowrey on March 8, 2013, 6:56 pm

    Hagel groveled. He reversed himself on every Lobby-offending remark he has ever made. And they were only remarks. In practice, he has been a reliable shill for the status quo his entire career. He will continue to toe the line on U.S. foreign policy, just as Obama has. These guys wouldn’t be in positions of power if they weren’t committed to advancing the cause of Empire.

    “But will Hagel’s presence make a difference? Who knows?”

    Really? I think we all know quite well. Hagel’s presence will make about as much difference as Obama’s presence has made. Ask a Palestinian about that.

    One day we’ll be thanking guys like Hagel and Obama for imprisoning us indefinitely at Guantanamo without charge or trial. Wow, what a great victory. They didn’t kill us and our families with drones.

  25. David Doppler on March 8, 2013, 7:48 pm

    I don’t think AIPAC was “scared” into silence. Much of what they are most effective at is done out of the public eye. They chose to announce neutrality not due to fear, but as one of their primary tactics: indirection. For everyone with half a clue about the Lobby, the public statement of neutrality was simply a signal to watch how the nightflower blossoms. However, Obama did defeat them on Hagel, whether they were scared, or simply doing their utmost to use and preserve their power for their own purposes. The defeat is what counts. I don’t see fear at AIPAC yet, just hubris. Obama is the Judo Master, rather than confront directly he uses his opponent’s strength and momentum to throw him for a loop, all the while maintaining a placid, non-confrontational front.

    • on March 9, 2013, 12:41 pm

      He didn’t defeat them on Hagel either. It’s all orchestrated bread and circus. If Hagel were only half of what the American drooling-sheep make him out to be, would he have been nominated and confirmed for the highest post of the bloodiest and foremost terrorist organization on the planet (second to none, not even Mossad)?

  26. Inanna on March 8, 2013, 8:01 pm

    I hope that this outcome puts paid to the notion of an all-powerful Israeli lobby. Schumer showed that he might be Israeli’s ‘guardian’ but he guards his self-interest more highly. The lobby has gotten complacent with its years of dominance over US policy on the Middle East but they’ve not only over-reached, they’ve become lazy, thinking that they only have to speak to garner obedience. All it takes is someone with a bit of a brain and ability to play politics (which is essentially knowing what your opponent’s price is and being willing to buy him off) to out-manoeuvre them. And, Obama’s got a brain and he knows how to play politics.

  27. goldmarx on March 8, 2013, 9:56 pm

    The Israel Lobby, i.e. AIPAC, is like the Wizard of Oz. It bellows with a threatening, booming voice, but behind the wall is a tiny old man, stooped over a chair and rasping into a sound system. Iit lives by bluffing, counting on intimidation to get its way.

    Call its bluff, and it scampers away.

  28. thankgodimatheist on March 8, 2013, 10:01 pm

    Hyperbole! Obama didn’t defeat the Lobby. On one issue, Hagel, maybe. He exploited one guy’s, (Schumer) ambition to “become leader of Senate Democrats when Harry Reid retires” and it worked. On many other numerous issues there may not be similar golden opportunities. My 2 cents.

  29. flyod on March 8, 2013, 10:09 pm

    i expect to see a new, pro israel, chuck hagel featured in next years aipac conference highlights..

  30. Justpassingby on March 9, 2013, 11:39 am

    M.J says that Obama won over the “israeli lobby”? There is nothing to support that assessment.

    First of all, there is no evidence that Obama picked Chuck Hagel just because to make a blow to the israeli lobby or whatever, so one could say MJ is wrong right in the beginning of his argument.

    Second, what were Obama alleged to have won? Just past day, Hagel hugged Ehud Barak in Washington DC, and promised full support for Israel and that the economic aid to Israel wouldn’t be affected by the
    dire economic situation in the U.S. – how is that not a victory for the “israeli lobby”?

    Likewise, what did Obama won looking how Chuck Hagel responded to the question he got about Iran, Israel, Palestine during the Congressional confirmation (the hearing)? As we all know Chuck Hagel showed full support for Israel and all his previous comments about “israeli lobby” or Israel he quickly and explicitly distanced himself from. How is that not a victory for the “israeli lobby”?

    Rather, the Hagel confirmation is a huge victory for the “israeli lobby”, apparently, on two cases for M.J some others,

    1. “Israel lobby” didnt support Hagel but instead got him to support their stance during the questioning, especially this is true when checking the hearing segment where Lindsey Graham leading the vanguard of the “israeli lobby” quite nicely made Hagel “admit”, quite pathetically, that he was wrong on his earlier comments about Israel.

    2. M.J (and maybe more people?) pose this Hagel nomination as a proof that lobby had no power on this issue, that they failed and Obama “won”, while the contrary is more aligned with the reality or how else would anyone describe how Lindsey Graham, a pro “israeli lobby” politican would accept Hagel after all?

    Besides Obama have repeteadly showed full support for Israel and will continue to do so. So why would he deliberately pick someone that work against israeli interests isnt reasonable neither.

    One could get back to this blog-post in 6-12 months and see who was right and who was wrong.

  31. on March 9, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Obama scared AIPAC? Odroner Obama? Bowing down to the Zionists Obama? No spine, no ballz Obama? Zionist compliant & approved Obama? Kosher certified Obama? ISreal can do no wrong Obama? I’m behind ISreal no matter what evil ISreal does with our tax dollars Obama? Ready to go to war with Iran for ISreal Obama? The world is not enough for beloved ISreal Obama? That Obama or the one who’s running for president of Kenya?

  32. upsidedownism on March 9, 2013, 12:43 pm

    m j rosenberg’s analysis is thoughtful but I don’t quite agree.

    Hagel is an outstanding American, who has obtained a job that only marginally impacts the overall US/Israeli relationship. By attacking him, the lobby is saying that even if you someone of the calibre of Chuck Hagel, and if you seek any important job in the government, the lobby is going to come after you in a severe way if there is anything about your statements or record vis a vis Israel that zionists don’t like.

    Any ordinary person planning a career in US politics, especially someone seeking a job which might touch on the US/Israeli relationship, will have gotten the message. Nobody who wants to have an easy nomination, or any easy career, will defy the lobby without thinking twice; otherwise they would take the same flak that Hagel took.

  33. Ecru on March 9, 2013, 4:57 pm

    I tend to disagree with this assessment of things.

    Think of it as a boxing contest, Obama in one corner, AIPAC in the other. AIPAC makes a swing, Obama is frozen in fear all his training out the window, but his base instincts make him flinch away from the incoming glove, just enough so that the swing doesn’t connect. AIPAC goes sailing past a still frozen Obama hits its head on the bell and knocks itself out. Obama didn’t win by outboxing AIPAC, he won because of his (involuntary) flinch response and AIPAC overbalanced.

  34. gingershot on March 9, 2013, 9:58 pm

    Now the Master is quoting Sun Tzu that ‘we’ – namely Israel – ‘we’ should build a golden bridge for Iran to retreat over instead of the war Apartheid Israel is so desperate for

    I can’t express how much I think this causes highly pressurized steam to blow out both of Bibi’s ears …

    Without a war on Iran, Apartheid is a dead man walking

  35. Graber on March 9, 2013, 10:40 pm

    All of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the nomination of Hegel has been absolutely ridiculous, and I’m just glad that its over. The matter of who heads the US war department makes absolutely no difference, and you’ve already wasted so much time and space following the matter.

    Oftentimes I’ve felt as though the editorial staff of Mondoweiss doesn’t comprehend the nature of the United States, and focuses on anti-Palestinian rhetoric and violence, while casting a blind eye to anti-black racism, and other forms of capitalist violence, in the US and worldwide.

    Perhaps the framework of the blog is skewed.. I’m not sure. When Dov Hikind’s blackface makes headlines its a point to pay attention to, but when scientific research finds that inequitable health care between Whites and African Americans in the United States contributed to 880,000 unnecessary deaths of African Americans between 1990-2000, it isn’t a point of concern.

  36. Carowhat on March 9, 2013, 11:22 pm

    Obama might have temporarily outsmarted Netanyahu but what’s so great about that? It’s like outsmarting a Great Dane. In the meantime Obama has to go make homage to Jerusalem next week and do a blowjob on that donkey for Israel. Which he unfortunately will do without any regret for what was once the great and powerful United States of America.

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