Chuck Schumer Announces Support for Chuck Hagel

Jewish Senator's Backing May Clear Way for Pentagon Pick

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

One of Chuck Hagel’s greatest potential obstacles on his path to approval as defense secretary has now been removed.

getty images

Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who made it known he had deep concerns over Hagel’s views on Israel and the Middle East, is now fully on board with the nomination. Schumer’s change of heart came after a 90-minute one-on-one meeting with Hagel Monday. Schumer’s position on Hagel was seen as pivotal, because of his standing in Senate and within the Jewish community.

In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Schumer made clear he got all the clarifications he needed from Hagel. “Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him,” Schumer’s statement read.

According to the New York senator, Hagel addressed in the meeting all the points of contention which have been highlighted by some in the pro-Israel community ever since the nomination was announced. He made clear he rejects a strategy of containment for Iran’s nuclear program and believes that dealing with Iran should be a top priority, using all means to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear capabilities, including military force.

Hagel also expressed support for all of the administration sanction measures against Iran, including further unilateral sanctions if necessary. While in the Senate, Hagel voted against some of the sanction resolutions explaining he did not believe unilateral moves would be effective.

Hagel also clarified that he does not support any negotiations with Hamas or Hezbollah until they give up terror and recognize Israel’s right to exist. The conversation also touched on Hagel’s controversial remarks about the “Jewish lobby.” Hagel, according to Schumer’s statement, expressed his regret for using the term.

“I know some will question whether Senator Hagel’s assurances are merely attempts to quiet critics as he seeks confirmation to this critical post. But I don’t think so,” Schumer concluded. “Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago. His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality.”

Hagel’s pre-confirmation campaign also won over another Jewish senator, Barbara Boxer from California, who announced Monday she supports the nomination, following a phone conversation she had with Hagel. Boxer said she also received written response from Hagel regarding concerns she raised about his views on Israel and on LGBT issues.

The four-term California senator had held off backing the Hagel, but said Hagel would have her vote after they had a long conversation and after he wrote her a letter spelling out his positions on Iran, Israel, and the treatment of gays and women in the military.

“We spoke for quite a while last week and I was very pleased with that conversation,” Boxer told reporters on a conference call from California. She said she had not been aware of Schumer’s announcement and that the two had made their decisions independently.

Other key Jewish senators, including Carl Levin who chairs the Armed Services committee and Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, have already endorsed Hagel.

Hagel is expected to garner votes from all 53 Senate Democrats and between 10 and 15 Republicans, according to one observer who has been counting votes.

With Reuters


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!
  • 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!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • 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.