Evangelical Christian Israel Backers Push Opposition to Chuck Hagel

CUFI Mounts Major Effort To Block Pentagon Pick

Chuck Wagon: Christian right backers of Israel are mounting a strong rear-guard effort to block the confirmation of Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon.
getty images
Chuck Wagon: Christian right backers of Israel are mounting a strong rear-guard effort to block the confirmation of Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon.

By JTA

Published January 30, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Chuck Hagel has made strides in his bid to secure Senate confirmation as defense secretary, winning the endorsement of leading Jewish Democratic senators and meeting with the leaders of major American Jewish groups.

But conservative pro-Israel opposition remains fierce, bolstered by the pivotal role being played by Christians United For Israel, the Texas-based group founded by Pastor John Hagee.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the first senator to come out against Hagel’s nomination, did so at Hagee’s behest, both men revealed on Monday.

CUFI’s affiliated Action Fund also has rallied hundreds of Christian pastors and leaders to Washington this week to lobby against the former Nebraska senator’s bid to succeed Leon Panetta.

And on Tuesday, as the pastors were swarming Senate offices, CUFI published four ads in states where Democratic senators are thought to be vulnerable in 2014: Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado and North Carolina.

“We pray you vote against confirming Senator Hagel,” said the ads, addressed to each state’s senators.

“These are states in which we believe our opposition to the Hagel nomination is deeply and widely held, and we believe that it is crucial that these senators be made aware of where so many of their constituents stand on this nomination,” David Brog, CUFI’s executive director, told JTA in an email.

At a gathering Monday for more than 400 Christian activists from 46 states who came to Washington for the anti-Hagel lobbying, Hagee revealed that he had asked Cornyn to oppose Hagel weeks before President Obama had made the nomination public.

“The next morning, Senator Cornyn called the Washington Post and made a courageous stand to oppose the Hagel nomination, which is detrimental both to America and Israel,” Hagee said.

The stated opposition of Cornyn, the minority whip, helped spur other Republicans to oppose Hagel, a Republican who served in the U.S. Senate from 1997 to 2008. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, has since said he is opposed, as have a number of other Republicans.

In his remarks Monday, Cornyn went over Hagel’s much-reported past remarks: describing a “Jewish lobby” that “intimidates” lawmakers; advocating direct outreach to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah; and expressing skepticism of unilateral sanctions on Iran and the use of a military strike to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.


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!
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • 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.