Israel Advocates Fight Over Chuck Hagel

Dec 19, 2012 6:58pm

Chuck Hagel will probably be nominated as the next secretary of defense, and some conservative Israel backers aren’t happy about it.

A former Republican senator from Nebraska, Hagel could have expected some turbulence from Israel-backing groups after he opposed unilateral sanctions on Iran and supported talks with Hamas, as The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake has reported.

Now, some of those voices are speaking up.

Read more about Hagel here.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has aired a list of grievances against Hagel, with executive director Matt Brooks issuing this statement: “Chuck Hagel’s statements and actions regarding Israel have raised serious concerns for many Americans who care about Israel. The Jewish community and every American who supports a strong U.S.-Israel relationship have cause for alarm if the president taps Hagel for such an important post.  The appointment of Chuck Hagel would be a slap in the face for every American who is concerned about the safety of Israel.”

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, who also leads the Emergency Committee for Israel, lambasted Hagel in an editorial in his magazine, citing Hagel’s “anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona fides,” and, “record of consistent hostility to Israel over the last decade.”

Often the odd man out among Israel groups in the U.S., the liberal J Street is backing Hagel as a potential nominee. On its blog this week, J Street called Hagel a “staunch friend of the State of Israel and a trusted ally in the Senate,” who “advocated for an attempt to engage Iran in dialogue – advice that President Obama heeded when he came to office in 2009.”

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