Chuck Hagel, Confirmation Battle Over, Gets Down To Business With Israel

Meets With Ehud Barak as AIPAC Signals Cooperation

Close Allies: Newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel embraces his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak.
getty images
Close Allies: Newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel embraces his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak.

By Nathan Guttman

Published March 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The heated debate over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense may have left a bitter aftertaste for those following the exchange.

But for Washington insiders, the accusations, retorts and congressional battles, are nothing more than politics. With Hagel now at the Pentagon’s helm, political disputes are being set aside in favor of getting back to business.

“Everything that happened in recent months means nothing now,” said Lawrence Korb, who was an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. “Chuck Hagel is not the kind of guy who will try to get back at people.”

Korb, currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, added that Hagel could easily seek retribution against lawmakers who opposed his nomination by cutting military programs in their states, but he did not indicate he’d take any such action.

Current and former government officials largely dismissed concerns that the barbs hurled against Hagel from some quarters of the Jewish community would mean a loss of access to the Pentagon by Israel advocates now. Some pointed to the fact that Hagel invited Ehud Barak, Israel’s minister of defense, to be the first foreign counterpart he would meet with at the Pentagon. For his part, Barak, in a March 3 speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference, sent greetings to Hagel from the podium. “As Secretary of Defense he will no doubt serve his country with the same pride and honor with which he served both on the battlefield and in Congress,” Barak said.

Ties between pro-Israel lobbying groups — in particular AIPAC — and the Pentagon run long and deep. Steve Rosen, a former top AIPAC official, estimated that “nearly half of the traffic between Israel and the United States goes through the Pentagon.”

This traffic includes military cooperation, procurement, and intelligence sharing. The pro-Israel lobby deals only with a small portion of it, mainly with issues related to arms sales and military assistance requiring Congressional legislation.

AIPAC does not deal with issues pertaining to classified information on military cooperation. These issues are discussed by Israeli and American military personnel. Arms sales contracts are dealt with by local lawyers hired by Israel. The Pentagon also influences most of the issues relating to American foreign aid to Israel since this aid is in the form of military assistance and is used to purchase American arm systems.


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!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • 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.