Israel Steers Clear of Chuck Hagel Dispute

Despite Grumbling, Danny Ayalon Calls Pentagon Pick 'Friend'

Chuck Hagel speaks at the White House after being nominated to be the next defense secretary.
getty images
Chuck Hagel speaks at the White House after being nominated to be the next defense secretary.

By Reuters

Published January 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The Israeli government kept clear on Tuesday of a brewing battle in Washington over U.S. President Barack Obama’s choice for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, whose record on Iran and Israel is under scrutiny.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak offered no immediate comment on the pick, announced on Monday after being rumoured for weeks in which some pro-Israel figures pilloried the former Republican senator.

Parting with the rightist government’s reticence were two relatively junior officials, Civil Defence Minister Avi Dichter and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, neither of whom is expected to stay on after Israel’s national election on Jan. 22.

“There have already been nominations in the past which looked very troubling to us, and ultimately reality turned out totally differently, both for better and for worse,” Dichter told Israel Radio in an interview.

“Therefore I think we should be careful. We do not nominate people in agencies in other countries in general, and especially in the United States. So, as it is customary to say to those being nominated there: welcome.”

Netanyahu, who is favoured for reelection, has had a testy relationship with Obama, a Democrat who won a second term in November - though both insist their nations’ alliance is sound.

Israel, which receives around $3 billion a year in U.S. defence grants, has at times challenged the Obama administration by threatening preemptive war against the disputed Iranian nuclear programme while world powers pursue talks with Tehran.

Obama has also criticised the Netanyahu government’s settlement of occupied West Bank land, which the Palestinians blame for the two-year-old impasse in negotiations with Israel.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it hoped Hagel’s appointment would change U.S. policy and make Washington “more respectful of the rights of nations”.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.