Murray Polner: Only Part of the Story: The Smearing of Chuck Hagel

tags: NYT, Chuck Hagel, Israel, Murray Polner, NYTines eXaminer



Murray Polner was editor of Present Tense, a liberal Jewish magazine published for 17 years by the American Jewish Committee. He has written and edited four books on Jewish life.

“Israel Vows To Use Veto Power If Chuck Hagel Confirmed As U.S. Secretary of Defense.”
–the Onion, Jan. 8, 2013.

The above headline was a typical Onion gag but like so many of its sarcastic pieces it contained a measure of truth.

Not long after an advertisement was placed in the Times by the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel, which read “Who is Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s Anti-Israel Nominee for Secretary of Defense?” ECI is run by William Kristol (remember when he was a Times Op Ed columnist?), and Gary Bauer, a former Reagan staffer and fervent Christian supporter of Israel. Extreme as the ad was, it wasn’t too different from the ADL’s Abraham Foxman who was so upset he called the possibility of Hagel becoming Secretary of Defense  “disturbing” and “troubling” because “He has a checkered past on Israel,” meaning  he had not been an unquestioning backer of all Israeli policies.  Hagel once had the effrontery to say “I am an American senator, not an Israeli senator,” something that really stung his opponents. “That is really the crux of the matter,” wrote Uri Avnery, the veteran Israeli leftist, peacenik and political writer who knows that any American politician daring to criticize Israel is flirting with loss of donations, a possible primary challenge, and near- certain political suicide.

Actually, the ad and Foxman had it right. The battle over Hagel’s nomination was never about his comments about a “bloated” Defense budget or his inane and insulting remark about gays –for which he publicly apologized.  It was always about Israel and the automatic support demanded by its most ardent defenders. Hagel’s transgression was that he had once publically referred to AIPAC and by implication the Israel Lobby. He even mistakenly called it the Jewish Lobby ignoring that while it is predominantly Jewish it is reinforced by impassioned Christian Zionists, hard-line conservatives, many liberal Democrats and even Presidents...



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