In a two-page document titled “Facts on Chuck Hagel” supporters of the former Nebraska Senator are fighting back against claims he is anti-Israel.
The paper, unsigned and circulated among reporters, attempts to refute claims raised against Hagel by some in the pro-Israel community and statements, including in a Washington Post editorial, that he is not the appropriate choice for Defense Secretary.
The paper quotes from Hagel’s book America: Our Next Chapter in which he writes that “at its core there will always be a special and historic bond with Israel” and that any agreement with the Palestinians “should not include any compromise regarding Israel’s Jewish identity.”
Hagel’s supporters bring two former U.S. diplomats, both Jewish, Daniel Kurtzer who was ambassador to Israel and Aaron David Miller, a Middle East adviser at the State Department, to vouch for Hagel’s support for Israel.
On the issues, the paper notes that Hagel’s support for talking with Hamas was in the context of “inducing Hamas to modify its behavior” and mentions that he was an original co-author of a bill urging the international community to boycott Hamas.
Regarding his positions on Iran, Hagel’s supporters say that his vote against a resolution recognizing the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group stemmed from the fact that the legislation made no mention of supporting diplomacy in dealing with Iran.
Furthermore, the paper states that Hagel “has never ruled out the use of force [against Iran] and supports keeping all options on the table.”
A similar fact sheet about Hagel and Israel, also distributed on Thursday, pointed out Hagel’s support for Israel during the second intifada and his support for pro-Israel resolutions in Senate.
The main takeaway from both papers is that Hagel and his supporters are not giving up and that, at least in the meanwhile, they do not vision a Susan Rice style scenario in which mounting criticism led to her withdrawal. Hagel is fighting back.
And the battle is not anywhere close to being over. The Emergency Committee on Israel is already out with an anti-Hagel ad which will air in the DC area this week.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.