The U.S. Senate should consider this and many other disturbing statements by Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary. Nebraska’s former Republican senator has said and done truly troubling things regarding Jews and Israel.
Hagel tried to close USO’s Haifa retreat when he ran the United Service Organizations from 1987 to 1990. The facility was highly popular among U.S. sailors, 45,000 of whom visited the Israeli port in 1990, the Associated Press reports.
“Chuck Hagel said the Haifa port is costing the U.S. too much [and] that if the Jews wanted one, the Jews should do the fundraising,” an unnamed supporter of the outpost told the Washington Free Beacon.
“He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it.’” recalled Marsha Halteman, of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which backed USO Haifa. “I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic,” Halteman said. “He was playing into that dual loyalty thing.”
Hagel alone among U.S. senators abandoned Russia’s Jews. As David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, told the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin: “The first AJC encounter with Senator Hagel I recall was when we sought his support, in 1999, for a Senate letter to then–Russian president Boris Yeltsin urging action against rising anti-Semitism. We were unsuccessful. On June 20, 1999, we published the letter as a full-page ad in The New York Times with 99 Senate signatories. Only Senator Hagel’s name was absent.”
Hagel was one of only four senators who refused to sign a Senate letter supporting Israel during Yasser Arafat’s terrorist Intifada in 2000.
“The State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli foreign minister’s office,” Hagel reportedly remarked in a speech at Rutgers University in March 2007.
“Like many other data points emerging since Hagel’s nomination,” John Podhoretz observed in February 15’s New York Post, “this one emits a faint but distinct odor of a classic anti-Semitic stereotype — Jews as secret marionetteers, pulling the strings of unsuspecting Gentiles.
“The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” on Capitol Hill, Hagel told Aaron David Miller in 2008.
That year, Hagel praised Miller’s book about the Middle East.
“If you want to read something that is very, very enlightening, this guy he’s getting tremendous reviews on it,” Hagel said. “He’s Jewish. He worked in the State Department, worked for Baker, worked for Albright, I think he’s worked for four secretaries of state, different Democrats, Republicans.”
“‘He’s Jewish,’” wrote Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard. “Isn’t there something creepy and disquieting about that interjection? . . . Why does Hagel call attention to the religion of the American diplomat whose book he’s praising? . . . Wouldn’t it be good to have a secretary of defense whose first thought isn’t the religious affiliation of Americans who participate in foreign policy debates?”
“I’m a United States senator,” Hagel declared in 2008. “I’m not an Israeli senator.”
“We believe that when Senator Hagel said that he was not an ‘Israeli Senator,’ that he was a U.S. Senator, he strongly implied that some of his colleagues have a greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States,” stated Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named after the late and legendary Nazi hunter. “That crosses the line.”
• Prominent Jewish Nebraskans have felt Hagel’s cold shoulder.
“During his last year in office, we knew he was not going to run again, he never returned any of our calls,” Jewish activist Gary Javitch told the Algemeiner website on December 21. “I have always gotten callbacks, even as a turn-down.”
“He was not the most responsive politician in Nebraska to me personally at the Jewish Press and to the Jewish community as a whole,” said Carol Katzman, the former editor of the Omaha Jewish Press. Nebraska’s representatives otherwise “were all very responsive,” she said. “It didn’t really matter what their party affiliation was, if we were soliciting them for an interview or a greeting ad for Rosh Hashanah or Passover.” However, “Hagel’s office never even responded. . . . We would make repeated calls” that went unanswered, she added. “It was pretty obvious that he and his staff were dismissive.” Katzman concluded: “Hagel was the only one we have had in Nebraska who basically showed the Jewish community that he didn’t give a damn about the Jewish community or any of our concerns.”
Are Hagel’s words anti-Semitic? Call your senators at 202-224-3121 and tell them what you think.
— Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.