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Israel Lobby out in force to block Hagel’s appointment as US Secretary of Defence

Anti-Hagel groups in Washington are doing all they can to block Barack Obama’s nominee for the post of Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel. The anti-Hagel alliance, led from behind the scenes by the powerful Israel Lobby group AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), also includes the DEBKA Jewish intelligence site, Washington Free Beacon and dozens of other shadowy bodies funded by right-wing multi-millionaire Sheldon Adelson, who financed Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid. The alliance believes that “the time has come to overthrow Hagel”, according to neocon William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard magazine.


In the propaganda-laden DEBKA FILES, named after the traditional Palestinian dance, the groups target Hagel because “he wants to contain Iran and avoid aggression”. They also accuse him of “working to undermine America’s military arsenal through his intentions to reduce the defence budget”. Moreover, according to the Washington Free Beacon, Hagel is “Anti-Israel and not friendly enough with Israel” while receiving funds from a previously unheard-of group called “Friends of Hamas”.  It has also been reported that Hagel gave a speech to the Arab organisation ADC, which is an anti-Israel body, to combat racism. In addition, representatives of the military-industrial complex have resorted to accusing him of being “weak in issues concerning US national security and the fight against America’s enemies”.

In all of this accusatory rhetoric, there are contradcitions in the claims made by the two wings of US Republicanism. While Senator Ted Cruz of the extreme right-wing “Tea Party” accuses Hagel of “acquiring funds from Friends of Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon”, the senator from the military-industrial complex in South Carolina, Lindsay Graham, said, “I am stalling the appointment of Hagel until President Obama reveals the hidden details of the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi in September, 2012”. This was Graham’s way of trying to blackmail the US President and impose on him other agreements, that are not in any way related to the nomination or appointment of Chuck Hagel.

A lot of this revolves around a fabrication by a reporter from the Daily News. “Friends of Hamas” is the creation of Dan Friedman whose idea of fun was to try to link Hagel to this entirely fictional organisation. The story was picked up by Jewish-American journalist Ben Shapiro, who works for AIPAC, using www.breitbartnews.com, which specialises in opposing the Palestinian cause. Shapiro pushed the “Friends of Hamas” scam around Republican senators, and they fell for it, even after Friedman himself confessed that he had “made it up to see how far Republicans would go to cling on to any rumour that may oust Hagel”.

In the most recent attempt to block the appointment of Hagel, scheduled for next week, Jennifer Rubin used her Right Turn column in the Washington Post to accuse Hagel of “describing Israel as an apartheid state”.

She believes that such a turn of phrase is sufficient to debar Hagel from high office. Writing in the Jewish-American Commentary magazine, which represents the right-wing views of Israel’s ruling Likud Party and defends illegal Israeli settlements, Jonathan Tobin urged Republicans and friends of Israel in the Senate not to rush their vote for Hagel until they are sure of his failure.

That Rubin should take umbrage at Hagel describing Israel as an apartheid state during a speech at Rutgers University is interesting given that the same phrase was, in fact, also used by Israel’s Minister of Defence Ehud Barak in 2010. “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic,” said Barak. “If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

It seems that Israel Lobbyists are very selective in those it deems to be beyond the Pale.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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