Washington - Hagel Courting Jews As Confirmation Looms; Says Supports Iron Dome For Israel
Washington - As Democrats continue to garner support for President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel has been meeting with leaders of top Jewish groups in order to make clear his stance on Middle Eastern policy.
According to JTA reports, Hagel met last Friday with leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and a statement released by Hagel’s office today offered a brief synopsis of the meeting, which discussed issues involving both Israel and Iran.
“[Hagel] discussed his commitment to the US-Israel relationship, including his determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to maintaining Israelâ€™s qualitative military edge, and to sustaining the Obama administrationâ€™s unprecedented security cooperation with Israel. He appreciated the opportunity to have a constructive, informed and wide-ranging discussion.”
In a written statement, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the meeting “an important opportunity for a serious and thorough discussion of key issues of importance to all of us.”
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents, declined to comment to VIN News on the meeting.
Hagel further continued to voice support for Israel and in a meeting today at the Dirksen Senate Office Building he told Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group, that he has been having positive meetings with Jewish officials.
“He told me, ‘I am a staunch supporter of Israel and a strong supporter of Iron Dome,’ which is perhaps, in light of the controversy surrounding him, a good men and a telling sign of how a future Secretary of Defense Hagel would conduct US defense policy as it pertains to a vital program such as Iron Dome which requires strong defense cooperation between the United States and Israel,” Friedlander told VIN News.
But while many Jewish Democrats have been jumping on the Hagel bandwagon following his apology for controversial comments made in 2006 disparaging the “Jewish lobby”, as previously reported on VIN News, one local official has outspoken in his opposition to Hagel’s confirmation.
“I laugh and I cry at the same time watching the unfolding of the purification of Hagel, an attempt to make him kosher when he just isn’t,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind. “It is hard to believe that someone, who for twenty years has taken positions and said things on certain issues, has now suddenly seen the light.”
Hikind envisions a dim future for should Hagel become the country’s next secretary of Defense.
“I hope to G-d I am wrong but I tell you now that relations between the United States and Israel are going to be worse than they were during Obama’s first term. He has a philosophy that is unhealthy for Israel and the United States.”
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