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August 17, 2016 12:29 pm

Fox’s Pete Hegseth: America Has Much to Learn From Israeli Society, Military (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Pete Hegseth. Photo: Fox News.

Pete Hegseth. Photo: Fox News.

There is much America can learn from Israel, a Fox News contributor and former head of a US veterans association said during a visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday.

On a fact-finding mission to the Jewish state this week, Pete Hegseth told The Algemeiner and other publications that what has always struck him about Israel is “the collective pervasive sense of a society willing to defend itself, understanding the reality that by force of arms you must defend it and pass this on to the next generation. If you don’t, you will give it away militarily and even culturally.”

Hegseth said, “The same reality is facing America today. In this dangerous world, are we willing to stand up for it, or accept this ‘citizen of the world’ attitude? Will we name the enemy, or hope it goes away?”

In this context, Hegseth mentioned his book, In the Arena, based, he said, on a Teddy Roosevelt speech “about what citizenship requires in great republics — that average citizens have to be good citizens.” Israel’s citizenry — productive in the workplace and willing to fight for its values — is what, Hegseth said, makes it a “great republic.”

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“Unfortunately, America’s leaders today want to mirror what is happening in Western Europe,” he said, pointing to comments made by the Republican presidential hopeful on Monday at a rally in the swing state of Ohio.

“Donald Trump was right when he said that [Democratic presidential candidate] Hillary Clinton would be the Angela Merkel of the United States,” said Hegseth, referring to the German chancellor’s economic and open-border policies. “History is not over,” he added, “and the minute we take what we have for granted, we give it away, because there are dangerous ideologies out there” waiting to take over.

Asked about his much-publicized previous criticism of the Republican candidate, Hegseth told The Algemeiner, “I’m a conservative Republican who’s part of a political process in America. And like almost every other conservative Republican in America, I had different candidates I believed in early on in the process, and was critical of the early things [Trump] had to say… I still don’t like some of his rhetoric.”

However, Hegseth asserted, “Trump has changed on many issues.” More importantly, Hegseth stressed, “Many Republicans and conservatives in America have come to grips with [the fact] that this election is not like most others in America, which have been characterized by Right vs. Left– conservative vs. liberal. [The two sides had] different policies, but [were] playing within certain bounds of American politics. But what you see of the Democratic Party today is not the mainstream Democratic Party, which has been captured by the far-Left. So to me, this election is about whether you believe in America or not. Do you want to have a country or not? And that’s where Donald Trump’s Merkel comment is spot on.”

Where Trump’s policies regarding the Jewish state are concerned, Hegseth told The Algemeiner, “His original position on Israel – neutrality — was a sort of [spontaneous] verbalization, without his having truly thought out the issue. And then, a lot of people around him said, ‘Do you understand what that means?’ And he has since walked back from that and given a more nuanced perspective.”

Hegseth, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that Fox was interested in his comparing the IDF with the US Army.

“There are a lot of differences, but a lot of similarities as well,” he said. “The American military has learned from the way Israel has fought its wars — whether its counterterrorism, counter-guerilla or counter-insurgency. There are many tactics and procedures we’ve gleaned.”

One key difference Hegseth noted was, “Whereas America usually deploys elsewhere in defense of itself, there’s an existential nature to what Israeli soldiers face here in defending [their] homeland.”

Hegseth then blasted the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Tehran and world powers a year ago in July.

“What America did with that Iran deal will have historic and tragic consequences,” he said. “And it threw our ally, Israel, under the bus in the process. Iran would wipe both Israel and America off the map if it could. “

Asked whether Israel could manage without American intervention and aid, if it ever comes to that, Hegseth said, ”Jews survived a long time without America, but Israel would be put in a precarious spot if that were to happen. I’m loath to think that America would do that — as we’ve seen it’s been tried over the past seven years.”

Hegseth, based in Minnesota, has been providing analysis and commentary for the Fox News Channel since 2014. Formerly the executive director of Vets for Freedom and CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, he was an infantry captain in the Army National Guard, and served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. He holds two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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