In Support of Chuck Hagel
From Israel Policy Forum’s Chair, Peter A. Joseph, and Executive Director, David A. Halperin:
In Support of Senator Chuck Hagel: Israel Policy Forum Statement
We welcome President Obama’s nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel to be his next secretary of defense.
We continue to be greatly disturbed by the ongoing – and unfounded – charges that Senator Hagel is anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. Now that he has been officially nominated, we are distributing again the entirety of Senator Hagel’s wide-ranging remarks on the Middle East to Israel Policy Forum (IPF) on December 4, 2008. Nothing he said suggests he is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. Far from it.
Of course, any concerns regarding Hagel’s views on Israel should be aired by those in the American Jewish community and elsewhere – though it is extremely unfortunate that these views have become the focus of the debate surrounding his nomination. His views are not outside the mainstream and should not disqualify him from serving as secretary of defense. We believe that his ideas indicate a keen – and nuanced – understanding of issues affecting Israel’s long-term security. They are, in fact, pro-Israel. We therefore support his nomination.
His statement in his address to IPF that “The United States cannot impose peace in the Middle East, but I don’t believe any way you come at this, there will be peace in the Middle East without the United States,” is exactly right.
So is, “[A]n approach … must be employed in a coherent way to deal with getting [to] … a two state solution.”
Regarding Iran, he recognized that: “[Iran] support[s] terrorists, they support Hezbollah, they’ve got their tentacles wrapped around every problem in the Middle East that is anti-Israel, anti- the United States. Those are realities. Those are facts.”
His description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the “strategic epicenter” of the Middle East have been subsequently reflected by CENTCOM chief General James Mattis, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former CIA Director General David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who have all similarly identified resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute as critical for advancing regional stability and American interests.
We also note that in his 2008 book, America; Our Next Chapter, Hagel wrote regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace, “there is one important given that is not negotiable: a comprehensive solution should not include any compromise regarding Israel’s Jewish identity.” He added, “there will always be a special and historic bond with Israel, exemplified by our continued commitment to Israel’s defense. But this commitment cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships.”
These statements demonstrate Hagel’s support for Israel and for a strong US-Israel partnership. They do not pose a danger to the United States or to Israel.
Hagel has served his nation as a veteran and a dedicated public servant. As a Senator he fostered strong ties on both sides of the political aisle, and created a reputation as an experienced, honest and independent-minded thinker, willing to challenge groupthink. These are all qualities that make for a fine candidate to serve as Secretary of Defense. He would be the first Vietnam War veteran and enlisted soldier to serve in that position.
Hagel should be applauded for his service to date. We trust that, during his nomination hearing, he will be given a fair opportunity to fully answer the charges that have been leveled at him.
The full text of Senator Hagel's 2008 speech to IPF can be found here