Foreign and Defense Policy, Defense

Chuck Hagel, anti-Semite?

Image Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Image Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

It has been suggested that Chuck Hagel is an anti-Semite. It has also been suggested that it is an outrage and a smear to call Barack Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense an anti-Semite. For my part, I don’t know. But these accusations and defenses have come from serious people.

First, the naysayers, because denying the charge is actually easier than leveling it. (“How dare you?” often suffices as a riposte.)

Here are the arguments:

1. Chuck Hagel is not an anti-Semite because some Jews — in Israel, in Nebraska, in the Senate — like him.

2. Chuck Hagel is not an anti-Semite because he believes in a strong US-Israel relationship and has said so.

3. Chuck Hagel is not an anti-Semite because that’s a smear used to tar those who: a) disagree with the Likud; b) disagree with current Israeli policy; c) have the guts to stand up to the Jews/Jewish lobby/Israel.

Let’s take these arguments on one by one:

“Jews like him!”: Just because you can persuade some Jews you do not hate them does not mean you can dodge the “anti-Semite” bullet. To assuage the sure-to-follow screams of Hagelites, we must add the corollary; just because some Jews despise you doesn’t automatically mean you are an anti-Semite, either. Bottom line: “Some Jews” won’t help. Jury still out.

Next: Chuck Hagel is not an anti-Semite because he believes in a strong US-Israel relationship. First, failing to believe in the relationship doesn’t make you an anti-Semite, unless your views are informed by a hatred of the Jews. On the other hand, it is manifest that despite protestations to the contrary, Chuck Hagel does not believe in the US-Israel special relationship. A review of his work makes clear that he is persuaded that the relationship has come at the cost of better US-Arab and US-Muslim relations. He is not convinced that Israel’s democratic government makes it somehow special in the Middle East. And he is absolutely convinced that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is central to all the problems of the Arab and Muslim world. Should our readers entertain doubts on this question, a rapid perusal of his many statements on the imperative of concessions to the Palestinians should convince you otherwise.

Last, on the notion that Chuck Hagel is not an anti-Semite because he simply has the courage to stand up to the Likud, Zionist, Jewish lobby, etc. … this is rank garbage. Yes, it’s commonly strewn about Washington, but that doesn’t make it attar of roses. No one is saying that Chuck Hagel is an anti-Semite because he loves the peace process. Otherwise, Dennis Ross, come on down. Hates AIPAC? Oh please. Get in line. It does not take courage to do these things; just some rich patrons and a loud voice – viz. the ultra-left J Street.

Now let’s come to the accusation itself. There are just a few straws in the wind that prompt some to believe that underneath it all, Hagel just doesn’t care for the Jews or Israel. Partly, it’s his reported reference to “the Jews,” and the clear fact that despite ample evidence to the contrary, he believes there is a monolithic creature that is “the Jews.” Partly, it’s his comments about “the Jewish lobby” despite the fact that the pro-Israel lobby is made up of both Christians and Jews. But these are far from dispositive. Perhaps it’s Hagel’s conviction that were it not for “the Jews,” US relations with the Middle East would be copacetic. Or his rather single-minded desire to protect Iran from unilateral US sanctions when other states just won’t go along. Even there, however, he has many political fellow travelers who have not been touched by the stench of Jew hatred. It could be his failure to stand against antisemitism with 99 other members of the Senate, or his rather inexplicable eagerness for direct talks with Hamas and Hezbollah, both designated terrorist groups. There, he’s a bit of a lone wolf in mainstream politics. It could even be his questionable taste in friends around Washington, or the fact that the government of Iran has welcomed his nomination.  (Then again, so has the government of Israel.)

Certainly, there is a pall that hangs over the man when it comes to questions about both Jews and Israel. As to the protestation of Hagel’s eager defenders that he is not an anti-Semite, I would only ask: How do you know? Certainly, I do not know that he is one, nor am I convinced he is not. I suspect that he is a man of uneven temperament; that, I can attest to personally, having worked with his staff for some years. Let’s just say that there are reasonable questions that may be asked about Hagel’s views of both the Jews and the US-Israel relationship.

Let this joke, oft told by one of my grandfathers (who knows which) be your guide: What’s the difference between a Jew and an anti-Semite? The Jew hates Moshe, Benji, and Schmuel. But he loves the Jews. The anti-Semite? He loves Moshe, Benji and Schmuel, he just can’t stand the Jews. Think about it.

20 thoughts on “Chuck Hagel, anti-Semite?

  1. As someone whose own family set foot in Palestine before General Allenby did, who have served in every war and every front, and with the exception of the Navy, served in every branch, and who has given more monetary support to Israel including the outright funding of the building of two kindergartens, as well as the support of literally dozens of Israeli and Jewish philanthropies, and my own board membership on one of the most venerable, this is a disgusting, McCarthyite screed that is utterly devoid of truth or even an attempt at intellectual honesty.

    That’s MY “riposte.”

    Ms. Pletka has revealed her infantile, dilletantish attempts to be a policy commentator before. Here she reveals her true character. A degenerate.

    You’re the Ed Pinto of foreign policy. Congratulations.

  2. “Certainly, I do not know that he is one, nor am I convinced he is not.”

    Wow. AEI, are you embarrassed yet? These are your thought leaders…

  3. Ms. Pletka found him an easy target since Obama just nominated a Torah observant Jew for Treasury. So this was all that was left for her imagination.

  4. A good test for whether a charge of bigotry is well-founded is whether it rests upon the hypersensory perception of the accuser. Chris Matthews hears high-pitched “dog-whistles.” Bret Stephens and Danielle Pletka sniff out “odors” and “stenches.”

    But if we’re all allowed to play this game, Ms. Pletka’s blog posting is a disgusting, sophistic fart in the wind.

  5. I subscribe to the AEI feed only because Mark Perry came here. I’ve found Pethokoukis to be sometimes insightful and sometimes off the reservation, but at least he puts some thought into the arguments I disagree with. Pletka, on the other hand, makes me want to unsubscribe completely from the AEI feed. She’s not even remotely a serious intellectual. Every piece I read of hers is so horribly written and argued that I actually feel bad for all of the other writers at AEI who inevitably will be somewhat associated with her.

    Please. Stop. Writing.

  6. The public is tired of your group and the bs anti semite slurs to to cover for and excuse the subversive activities of the Jewish Lobby in the US.

    Here is the new rule:

    For this….
    “SENATE AIDE: SEND US HAGEL AND WE WILL MAKE SURE EVERY AMERICAN KNOWS HE IS AN ANTI SEMITE””…Bill Kristol – Jewish Lobby – Kirk’s Goldberg -Weekly Standard Headline

    You will get this..

    ” AND WE WILL MAKE SURE EVERY AMERICAN KNOWS THAT YOU ARE TRAITORS TO THIS COUNTRY AND ANTI AMERICAN.

    And that is the message we have sent to the Senate I-Firsters smears of Hagel today.

    TRAITOR LIST:

    Fax Numbers as of Jan. 1, 2013

    Kirk – Goldberg 202 228 4611
    Lindsey Graham – 202 224 3808
    Tom Coburn – 202 224 6008
    Mitch McConnell- 202 224 2499
    Chuck Schumer 202 228 3027
    Bill Nelson – 202 228 2183
    Saxley Chambliss 202 224 0103
    Robert Menendez 202 228 2197
    Ted Cruz—no fax yet—Ph 202 224 5922
    Pat Roberts – 202 224 3514
    John Cornyn 202 228 2856
    Mark Rubio 202 228 0285
    Rob Portman – 202 224 9075
    John McCain 202 228 2862

    For good measure:..just in case
    Harry Reid- 202 224 7327
    John Kerry – 202 224 8525
    Rand Paul– 202 228 6917

    Don’t like the new rules? Then get out of America. This isn’t Israel. We’re tired of being nice about this, the taboos are dead, you’re exposed.

  7. Had Hagel made remarks about Roma, African Americans, or Muslims analogous to his sloppy and even insulting words regarding Jews, he would not be where he is today. Perhaps he is not particularly anti-semitic, but he himself is to blame for suspicions. Hagel does not speak in a measured, thoughtful manner. He is full of heat, adamant about his points but one is not sure what they are. Given his hot-headed effusions, it is no wonder people are concerned.

    • Hagel does not speak in a measured, thoughtful manner….

      He is not measured but I doubt that his is as thoughtless as most of the politicians who are supported by the neoconservatives.

  8. I see Hagel also belittled the Armenian Genocide, saying “What happened in 1915 happened in 1915…” This is a gratuitously stupid, insensitive thing to say; doesn’t Hagel know that victims of genocide never forget, always feel vulnerable? Hagel can make a good talk show host, but not a top level Cabinet member with such a mouth.

    • He did not belittle the genocide. He said it was not an issue for the United States Congress. He thought it would hurt U.S.-Turkish relations. JINSA took the exact same position in 2010 because they thought it would damage Turkish-Israeli relations. In 2007, John McCain said the exact same thing about the Armenian genocide–in fact, that was the standard GOP position at the time.

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2007/10/daily_blog_buzz_4.asp

      Do yourself a favor, don’t get your news from the Free Beacon.

  9. Hagel isn’t an anti-Semite, and even if he has certain minor prejudices about certain groups, that’s not a disqualification.

    of course, he is unfortunately vocally supported by an unholy alliance of the Democratic Party’s left wing and the paleo Right, the latter of which (like one of the commenters above) is singularly obsessed with Israel as the Root of All Our Problems in the Middle East and considers any intervention in the region, regardless of the merits, to be because of nefarious Likudnik influence. (This goes back to Pat Buchanan’s critique of the Gulf War — I don’t believe there’s any post-Cold War intervention that paleos have supported.)

    Of course, Hagel =/= his supporters, but this charade of praising him as some brilliant realist isn’t backed up by anything. No one wants to invade Iran, for example, but that and his stated position that a nuclear Iran is perfectly containable are two different things. The paleo Right and far Left, though, simply paint it as a choice between either accepting a nuclear Iran as manageable, or being a bloodthirsty neocon warmonger, then whine that they don’t have more influence in either party’s foreign policy.

  10. welcome Chuck Hagel, wash the dog flea infestation in dogs Zionists, Americans do not have to be a cash cow israel, many lives and property of Americans sacrificed for israel, still not enough?

  11. It has been suggested that Chuck Hagel is…

    Nice hit piece. But you need to work on the transparency problem because some suggest that you….

  12. http://pragmaticwitness.com/who-is-a-semite/

    One of the myths that has been perpetrated on the world is that only Jews are semites. This is totally inaccurate. Unfortunately, the ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) has made a fortune in donations and has conned most media networks and most people in the world into believing this untruth.

    If one looks into the history of the word, “Semite”, it has to do with a language group and no more. The semitic languages are, at least according to most linguistic experts, Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the lands once known as Abyssinia), Arabic (spoken in all the Arab countries and in many Muslim countries because it is the language of the Qur’an), Hebrew (spoken in Israel and by some Jews and others outside of Israel), Aramaic (spoken primarily by the Chaldeans of Iraq and by some Catholic and Maronite Christians in the world, at least in their church services if not in their homes or business) and Syriac (spoken by a few in various parts of Syria and in the Middle East). Incidentally, according to most linguists, Abraham, the father of the Jews and Arabs, spoke Aramaic, that was the language of the land at the time, not Hebrew.

    To get back to facts about Semites, Jews, language and genetics, let me go further. The actual genetic Jews were born in the Middle East and are known as Sephardic Jews. These Jews did speak a semitic language, Hebrew , from their earliest incarnation, but also, some at the time of Christ, also spoke Aramaic, Arabic and Amharic because of their location in Jerusalem and other Middle Eastern cities such as what is now Addis Abbabba, Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus. One rarely hears a Sephardic Jew yelling, ”anti-Semite” because he knows better and because he is aware of his own history within semitic language speaking lands.

    Those people who stereotype or attack others based on their race or ethnicity are dead wrong and should be condemned-so too should those who abuse labels and use them wrongly to stop others from being justifiably critical should also be condemned (and in this case, referring to the ADL and other groups of that sort who label people with impunity and carelessness, sometimes wrecking their careers, their reputations, their businesses and their lives!)

    Thus, when a person from the ADL calls someone who is critical of Israel, Zionists or Zionism, an “anti-Semite”, this is pure nonsense. The person speaking is simply critical of Israel or Zionism. Also, if a person speaks against an Arab, and as I pointed out, Arabs speak a semitic language, he may be anti-Arab, but he is not “anti-semitic.”. In both cases, the person may be anti-Zionist or may be a racist and be anti-Jewish or anti-Arab, but the person is SIMPLY NOT ANTI-SEMITIC.

    • Those people who stereotype or attack others based on their race or ethnicity are dead wrong and should be condemned-so too should those who abuse labels and use them wrongly to stop others from being justifiably critical should also be condemned (and in this case, referring to the ADL and other groups of that sort who label people with impunity and carelessness, sometimes wrecking their careers, their reputations, their businesses and their lives!)

      Many of the attackers are quite aware of the facts that you gave but their goal is to divert attention towards building support of some position or act, not to illuminate by talking about the truth. In politics truth gets in the way and few who are successful have use for it. This is why the GOP and Democratic Party are dominated by an elite that is as immoral and untruthful as one can imagine. In a typical Social Democratic system only the worst can rise to the top. (Just look at the list of American Presidents over the past 80 years.)

    • A stupid old chestnut. Unfortunately, we use the expression “anti-Semitic” as a matter of custom in the English language to denote anti-Semitism.

      However, we do thank you for your anti-Semitic rant. It’s been nice conning you.

  13. “A stupid old chestnut. Unfortunately, we use the expression “anti-Semitic” as a matter of custom in the English language to denote anti-Semitism. ”

    correction: denote an anti-Jewish expression.

    Fell for it myself.

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