By Ari Lieberman
Two career politicians are all but certain to be nominated for top cabinet posts within the Obama administration -- John Kerry for secretary of state and Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense. While Kerry's record on Israel is troubling at best, Obama's man for secretary of defense is downright hostile. What's more, a deeper look at Hagel's record reveals a deep-seeded hatred of Israel far beyond the norm for ordinary run-of-the-mill Israel critics.
I hate to use the term "anti-Semitic" because its overuse results in dilution of its negative connotation. The term "anti-Semite" should be used sparingly and with extreme caution, and only when one is absolutely certain that the recipient of the pejorative is indeed an anti-Semite. I have come to the reluctant conclusion that not only does Hagel harbor animus toward Israel, but he displays anti-Semitic tendencies.
Anti-Semitism has morphed throughout the years, and only the most boorish cling to the old-school style. We see this type of xenophobia prevalent in the Arab and Muslim world. When the Islamo-fascist dictator of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, concurs with an anti-Semitic screed that calls for the destruction of the "yahuds" -- that's old-school anti-Semitism. Similarly, when government-controlled Arab and Iranian media spew forth claims that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children in ritualistic fashion to prepare matzoth for Passover, that too is classic anti-Semitism and very easy to identify.
But today's anti-Semitism has taken a more insidious form; it masks itself as legitimate criticism of Israel, with the purported aim of advancing "human rights." Famed humanitarian and Soviet dissident Nathan Sharansky recognized the problem and postulated a test -- which he termed the 3D-test -- to distinguish between "legitimate" criticism of Israel and veiled anti-Semitism masquerading as such.
While Hagel doesn't fit as neatly into Sharansky's 3D-test as, say, someone like Alison Weir, the notorious chief of a hate-mongering organization, his past actions and veiled references to Jewish influences in Washington make him come pretty darn close.
With the possible exception of former KKK member Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Chuck Hagel is arguably the most hostile anti-Israel U.S. senator ever to serve. His record features a laundry list of anti-Israel actions that include his failure to sign a bipartisan letter to the European Union to add Hezb'allah to its list of terrorist organizations. He was one of only a handful of senators who refused to sign the letter.
Prior to September 11, 2001 Hezb'allah was responsible for more American deaths than all other terrorist organizations combined. It was also responsible for targeting and destroying Jewish centers in Argentina, resulting in countless of civilian deaths, for no reason other than its lust for the murder of Jews.
Chuck Hagel currently serves as chairman of the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy blog. On December 11, 2012, the Atlantic Council published a front-page article entitled "Israel's Apartheid Policy." Of all the anti-Semitic canards and libelous statements about Israel, perhaps none is more egregious than labeling Israel an "Apartheid state."
The article notes that Israel maintains separate roads for Arabs and Jews and implies that this situation has existed since the Six-Day War, which is utter rubbish. Prior to the Oslo War (also know as the Second Intifada), Jews and Arabs were freely able to utilize the same roads. It was only after Arafat unleashed his wave of homicide bombers and drive-by shooters that security concerns dictated curtailment of terrorist movement. The Palestinians have only themselves to blame for their predicament. Violence entails consequences, and no responsible nation can allow its citizens -- women and children -- to fall prey to violence of the most horrific sort.
Moreover, the article neglects to note that Israeli courts, at the request of Arab-affiliated organizations, periodically review the security situation and allow for the loosening of restrictions as the situation warrants. The article also repeats the lie that planned Israeli construction in the E-1 section near Jerusalem would sever land links among Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. Even the New York Times, with its lengthyhistory of anti-Israel bias, acknowledged (belatedly) that this was simply not the case.
It seems highly unlikely that Hagel, as chairman of the Atlantic Council, was unaware of this article's intended publication, and this is especially true in light of its timing. The likelihood is that Hagel either agrees with this vitriol or wishes to perpetuate it even if he doesn't believe it. It's bad any way you look at it.
But what is perhaps most disconcerting is Hagel's 2006 pejorative reference to the so-called "Jewish lobby," conjuring up the old anti-Semitic canard -- very popular in the Arab world and among Nazi conspiracists -- of rich, powerful Jews pulling the strings of Washington. Images of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion come to mind, and perhaps this is what Hagel wanted his audience to absorb.
Sorry, Chuck, but there is no "Jewish lobby." There is an organization called AIPAC, composed of American citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, who believe that close cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is advantageous to both countries. These citizens hold the opinion that at a time when chaos, mayhem, and fanaticism grip the Muslim world -- for reasons having nothing to do with Israel -- it is important now more than ever to recognize Israel's strategic importance and its underlying moral similarities with our nation.
But someone like Hagel, who views matters through the narrow prism of Jew and non-Jew, sees only the "Jewish lobby." His reference to the "Jewish lobby" is demonstrative of his myopic outlook that precludes any possibility that many non-Jews are supportive of Israel for a plethora of reasons, including but not limited to shared values and strategic interests. In fact, a recent Pew research poll confirms that Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, and this poll is consistent with past polls that revealed similar results.
I could be wrong, of course, but I believe that Chuck Hagel meets the criteria as set forth in Sharansky's formulation. If he is nominated and confirmed, U.S.-Israeli relations will likely spiral, and that will be bad for both countries.