Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Hagel Fight Heats Up With Senators’ Grilling, Pro-Israel Christian Opposition

February 6, 2013 12:01 am 0 comments

Senator John McCain questioning former Senator Chuck Hagel. Photo: Screenshot.

By Jacob Kamaras and Maxine Dovere.

WASHINGTON, DC – Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s defense secretary nominee who has come under fire for both his statements and actions relating to Israel, was pressed on his foreign policy record throughout a daylong Senate confirmation hearing last week that came on the heels of lobbying against his confirmation by more than 400 pro-Israel Christian leaders.

During the Jan. 31 hearing, the former Nebraska senator mistakenly expressed support for a U.S. policy of “containment” in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat at his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.

“I’ve just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on ‘containment,'” Hagel went on to say. “If I said that, I meant to say that obviously—his position on containment—we don’t have a position on containment.”

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) then intervened, saying, “Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment—which is we do not favor containment.”

Responding to U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who questioned Hagel on a 2007 speech he gave the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in which he said “the strategy of containment remain[s] relevant today” regarding Iran, Hagel said “I don’t have the speech in front of me.”

“I think there was more to it,” Hagel added.

Hagel’s initial comment supporting containment came after he had read from a different speech, in which he stated that he was “committed to the president’s view that the United States should take no options off the table in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“What should we believe? What he read from the page or what he said later on?” Boaz Bismuth asked in an oped for Israel Hayom, adding that “Hagel perhaps ‘slipped’ at his Senate hearing—but his appointment will be a slip up for the administration.”

Hagel expressed regret for the infamous comment he made to former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller in 2008 that “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” Hagel said he should have instead used the term “pro-Israel lobby.”

“I’m sorry and I regret it,” Hagel said. “On the use of ‘intimidation,’ I should have used ‘influence,’ I think would have been more appropriate.”

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NB) said Hagel’s ideas are “extreme” and “far to the left” of Obama’s. Hagel chairs the Atlantic Council think tank, which in December published a column titled “Israel’s Apartheid Policy” as well as a policy paper predicting that Iran “should be viewed as a potential natural partner” for the U.S.

Hagel while in the senate declined to sign an August 2006 letter asking the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization (12 out of 100 senators did not sign), a November 2001 letter asking President George W. Bush not to meet Yasser Arafat until Arafat took steps to end violence against Israel (11 senators did not sign), and an October 2000 letter in support of Israel (four senators did not sign). Hagel did, however, sign a March 2009 letter asking Obama to directly negotiate with Hamas.

But in his opening statement Jan. 31, Hagel said “No one individual vote, no one individual quote or no one individual statement defines me, my beliefs, or my record.”

“My overall worldview has never changed: that America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world, that we must lead the international community to confront threats and challenges together, and that we must use all tools of American power to protect our citizens and our interests,” he said.

Earlier in the week, hundreds of pro-Israel Christians descended on Washington, DC, to raise heated voices against Hagel’s confirmation.

The Action Fund of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) brought more than 400 Christian leaders, in addition to some rabbis, from 46 different states to Capitol Hill to lobby their U.S. senators and U.S. representatives to vote against Hagel’s confirmation.

At the Jan. 28 preliminary session of the CUFI Emergency Summit, which began with a dinner and policy briefing, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), CUFI Founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee, and CUFI board member and President of American Values Gary Bauer presented the organization’s positions—which were conveyed to House and Senate members Jan. 29.

“We Jews like to stand before God,” said Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg as he led the ceremonial blessing of the bread at the rapidly convened Emergency Summit dinner.

Hagee laid out CUFI’s objections to an attentive audience, concluding “we pledge that we will stand with Israel when push comes to shove.”

“Well,” extolled Hagee, “push has come to shove!”

Hagee acknowledged Hagel’s record as a Vietnam veteran and senator “with all due respect,” but stressed that the positions the former senator has taken on Iran and Israel make him unsuitable as Secretary of Defense.

“The biggest threat to the security and safety of our front line ally, Israel, is an aggressive Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional domination… Hagel is not the man for this job: not now and not in the future!” Hagee said.

Hagee suggested Iran “is so excited about Chuck Hagel’s nomination that they have endorsed him.”

“Iran wants to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth and their candidate is Chuck Hagel,” the pastor said.

Hagee reminded of Hagel’s “Jewish lobby” comment. The former senator also told Aaron David Miller, “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.”

“Well,” said Hagee, “we are the Christians of America and we stand with Israel.”

“We have pledged our loyalty and our love for Israel and the Jewish people,” he said. “We have pledged our solidarity and love for Zion. We will not be silent.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →