Is Obama’s next Defense Secretary an anti-semite?


by Matt Hill    
11:45 pm - January 7th 2013

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It’s being reported that President Obama has nominated former senator Chuck Hagel as his new secretary of defense. And a lot of people aren’t happy.

Hagel has expressed doubts about the wisdom of attacking Iran militarily. And, on Israel, he’s known to be somewhat less foamingly pro-Likud than many of his colleagues in the Republican Party.

As a result, the inevitable smear campaign is in already underway. Much of the criticism of Hagel centres around a remark he once made about the influence of pro-Israel pressure groups on Capitol Hill.

‘The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,’ he was quoted as saying. ‘I’m a United States senator, not an Israeli senator.’

Some have claimed that the phrase ‘Jewish lobby’ – as opposed to ‘pro-Israel lobby’ – is anti-semitic. One unnamed Republican aide, widely quoted in the US media, explained that the words are racist because they imply ‘the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy’.

If ‘Jewish lobby’ and ‘pro-Israel lobby’ strike many observers as synonymous, it may be because America’s biggest and richest Jewish organisations are now virtually uniform in espousing hardline Zionist and neoconservative views. (This is in contrast to the people they claim to represent, American Jews themselves, who are overwhelmingly liberal on domestic and foreign policy.)

Perhaps that’s why nobody raises an eyebrow when the phrase is used by other public figures – such as Malcolm Hoenlein, who spoke of the ‘Jewish lobby’ in an interview last month.

Of course, another reason may be that, as head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein is one of the leading figures of the Jewish (or should that be pro-Israel?) lobby himself.

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About the author
Matt is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs more regularly at The Muddled East
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East ,United States


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Reader comments


1. Shatterface

If ‘Jewish lobby’ and ‘pro-Israel lobby’ strike many observers as synonymous, it may be because America’s biggest and richest Jewish organisations are now virtually uniform in espousing hardline Zionist and neoconservative views

You managed to get ‘if’, ‘may be’ and ‘virtually’ into that sentence while still implying it is legitimate to treat the ‘richest’ (sic) Jewish organisations and the pro-Israeli lobby as if they are the same thing.

If he meant ‘pro-Israeli’ he should have damn well said so.

Shatteface,

Let me be clearer then. The only major American Jewish communal organisation of recent years that has a record of protesting the occupation and Israel’s wars was the American Jewish Congress. It effectively closed in 2010 due to losses incurred in the Madoff affair, but my ‘virtually’ is there to note that it officially still exists. One hopes it will begin functioning again someday soon.

With the closure of the AJC, all the major pro-Israel groups are Jewish, and all the major Jewish groups are strongly pro-Israel. So the phrases ‘Jewish lobby’ and ‘pro-Israel lobby’ are pretty much synonymous – which is why people like Malcolm Hoenlein use them interchangably.

FWIW I see Chuck Hagel as leaning against the political wind and trying to inject sanity into the vociferous pressures for immediate military action aganist Iran and the cover-up over the continuing approvals by the Israeli government of new settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

Yet apparently no-one is unhappy about the possible nomination of John Brennan!

“Yet apparently no-one is unhappy about the possible nomination of John Brennan!”

Which tells us much about why Chuck Hagel’s views are so objectionable to many on the Senate. We can bet that Obama didn’t go into this naively and Hagel must be willing to argue his cause at the Senate confirmation hearings on his nomination. Sadly, I doubt that Hagel will survive the process and that Obama knows that but I hope I’m wrong.

To the American political class, you’re an anti-semite if you don’t hate Palestinians

For interest, try this news clip with an interview of ex-US President Jimmy Carter speaking on the abuse of the human-rights of the Palestinians in Palestine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvtC_qzHVM4

I didn’t fully follow the discussion of this on Harry’s Place (in response to a post from an Israeli who thought he seemed fine) but I believe J Street supports him and they are quite a significant lobby group I think. And doesn’t AIPAC have a lot of non-Jewish/Christian Zionist/Republican type support?

9. Mary Coulthard

Anti-semitism is now one of the most devalued, meaningless political insults going which takes some doing given the sheer vastness of the historic crimes of anti-semitism. Zionism has a lot to answer for 1) their genocidal racism against Palestinians and 2) their profligate misuse and debasement of the term anti-semitism.

“Anti-semitism is now one of the most devalued, meaningless political insults going”

Absolutely. Recap this quote from Lawrence Summers, as President of Harvard, on 17 September 2002:

“But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”
http://president.harvard.edu/speeches/2002/morningprayers.html

Translation: criticism of Israel = antisemitism.

Try this assessment of Chuck Hagel’s chances of surviving the Senate’s confirmation hearings to become the next US Secretary of Defense:

In the trench warfare that characterizes politics in the nation’s capital these days, Chuck Hagel is like a soldier stuck in no-man’s land, getting shot at from both sides.
http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/09/nation/la-na-tt-chuck-hagel-20130108


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