In a recent interview with The Algemeiner, former New York Mayor and staunch backer of President Obama’s re-election, Ed Koch, strongly opposed the possible appointment of former senator Chuck Hagel as America’s next defense secretary, due to the latter’s perceived hostility towards Israel.
“I believe it would be a terrible appointment,” he said, “and so do apparently most of the Jewish leaders who have expressed themselves.”
Explaining his opposition to the appointment, which is looking increasingly likely to materialize, Koch said that it would lead Arab states to believe that President Obama was seeking to create distance between his administration and Israel.
“Such an appointment would give great comfort to the Arab world that would think that President Obama is seeking to put space between Israel and his administration,” Koch said, “I hope he doesn’t go forward with that appointment.”
Koch says that since his election, Obama has acted in support of Israel. “He has been stalwart since the election, nobody has stood up as well as he in support of Israel, I hope he continues with that,” he said. But the appointment of Hagel, he concluded, “would be a great mistake.”
Hagel has been roundly criticized by Jewish leaders and groups from across the political spectrum for his policies relating to Israel and the Middle East.
In a September interview with The Algemeiner, Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein said, “He is one of the most hostile critics of Israel that has ever been in the Senate.”
“There is only a handful of senators that have been openly hostile to Israel and Chuck Hagel is one of them,” Klein added.
In 2007 the National Jewish Democratic Council listed on its website a number of instances where Hagel’s positions relating to Israel have appeared to be hostile. The Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement Friday that choosing Hagel would be “a slap in the face for every American who is concerned about the safety of Israel.”
Last week The Algemeiner reported that “Sen. Chuck Hagel has met with both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and is the front runner for the Secretary of Defense position soon to be vacated by Leon Panetta.”
One Democratic source with knowledge of the process told CNN that Hagel’s nomination is “almost a done deal.”