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Israeli diplomat: ‘Attacks on Hagel are vile and vicious’

January 7th, 2013
06:16 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Opponents of President Obama’s pick for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, characterize him as an enemy of Israel and a friend to Iran.

“That’s total and utter nonsense,” former Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

Pinkas said Hagel’s statements and voting record suggest the exact opposite.

“I think that those going after his record are after President Obama rather than after Senator Hagel. And I think these attacks are vile, vicious, ugly and unfounded.”

Pinkas attributes the storm to a group of people who are unwilling to except Obama’s electoral win as president in 2012 and he believes that they are using the subject of Israel to garner media attention. 

Who is Chuck Hagel?

American conservatives have locked on to something. Hagel said in an interview seven years ago in a recorded conversation with Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for the U.S.

"The political reality is that you intimidate a lot - not you, but the Jewish lobby, intimidates a lot of people in there. And again, I've always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don't think it's in the interest of Israel."

"I didn't sign on to certain resolutions and letters because they were counter-productive and didn't solve a problem," Hagel told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Hagel’s position on Iran has also drawn fire because he has opposed some U.S. sanctions - urging negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

"I have not supported unilateral sanctions because when it is us alone they don't work and they just isolate the United States," Hagel told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Iranian foreign policy expert Mohammad Ali Shabani told Amanpour that the animosity between Iranian and the U.S. governments is so deeply institutionalized the nominee for Secretary of Defense does not have much of an impact in practical terms. Though he said it might send a message “positive signal” to decision makers in Iran that the U.S. could be open to more dialogue.

When President Obama announced Hagel as the man to run America’s massive military machine on Monday, Obama cast him as a game-changer.

"Chuck Hagel's leadership of our military would be historic,” President Obama said. “He'd be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as secretary of defense. One of the few secretaries to be wounded in war. And the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department."

The president reached across the aisle to choose a Republican cabinet secretary, but this moderate Republican’s strongest foes are in his own party.

Shortly after being nominated, Hagel said he was astounded at how his record has been distorted and asked for a fair hearing in the Senate.

MORE: Hagel & Hagel: Brothers in arms

Filed under:  Latest Episode
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. SnowElves

    I'm a democrat, but I really like Hagel and cannot stress how important it is to have someone like him for the job. Hagel is not stupid. Why is it that the US was one of 9 nations to vote against a Palestinian state? Why is it that nations around the world overwhelmingly voted for Palestinian statehood? Is it because the UN is biased against Israel? No, because the UN created Israel and Israel has violated more UN Resolutions than all other nations of the world combined. Is it because the world is anti-Semetic? No, because Palestinians are ethnically Semites too. The truth is, we only see things from the perspective of Israel and we are not being presented with the full story.

    So what is the full story? Well for one, the only nation in the Middle East to reject a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone is not Iran, its Israel. This means that Israel has nukes, although they will never admit to it. The truth is, Israel doesn't want peace. For any peace process to exist, all parties must participate. But Israelis find it much easier to get Big Brother USA to do their dirty work for them. I'm so fed up with the Israeli government exploiting our country. Our taxes just increased and it barely touched our deficit, and here are the arrogant Israelis concerned with Hagel because he would like to see the Israel-Iran dispute settled peacefully. But no, Israeli politicians would rather us go to war for their sake because hey why not when they won't be the ones paying the tab for war or shedding blood?!

    January 7, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      I hjave some neews for you ShowElves... For starters, the US did not vote against the Palestinian state but it voted against UNILATERAL declaration of this state without a peace agreement. Now Palestinians have a state AT WAR with Israel and Abbas' administration is formally responsible for the actions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations.

      Further, the UN DID NOT create Israel as the UN DOES NOT HAVE the power or authority to create states. The UN can offer solutions to regional conflicts and this is exactly what it did back in 1948 when it OFFERED to divide Palestine and establish two sattes there, one for the Arabs and another for the Jews.

      Still further, I dare you to show at least one UN Resolution that was violated by Israel but complied with by the Arabs.

      Next, I would suggest that you ask someone to explain to you how to use a dictionary. You will ber amazed to discover that the word 'Antigua' does not mean "against Gua", 'Antipasto' does not mean "against pasta", 'Antidot' does not mean "against dot" and 'Antisemite' does not mean ""against Semites".

      You're right, however, that for peace to become possible ALL parties must to participate. This means that as long as the Palestinians are rejecting each and every peace offer there will be no peace in the Middle East.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:46 am | Reply
      • Thinker24

        You are almost completly right.
        Only one thing: to demonstrate "good will", Israel should forbid the building of new settlements by it's fanatics.
        PS: "antipasto" derived from "ante-pasto" meaning "ahead of meal". It doesn't change what you said, but I felt the urge to give this (useless) info 🙂

        January 8, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • Thinker23

        "Thinker24"... Can you elaborate on the reasons you believe Israel should forbid the building of new settlements but the Palestinians should be allowed to build? One possible reason I can see it the ethnicity of the "fanatics". It seems that according to you the Jewish "fanatics" should not be allowed to build settlements while the Arab "fanatics" should. Can you offer any other reasons?
        PS: Discrimination of people by their ethnicity is RACISM. Racism against Jews is called anti-Semitism and it WAS NOT derived from "ante-Semitism" meaning "ahead of Semites".

        January 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Thinker23

        One more thing, "Thinker24"... WHY did not you tell us what the Muslims in general (including Iran) and the Palestinians in particular should do to demonstrate "good will" towards Israel?

        January 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  2. helove

    I reckon i have what you might call blind love for the nation of Isreal, but of late i'm starting to get sceptical of some People in the Isreali leadership. Starting with the current Prime Minister, Nethanyhu, sometimes he displays what i reckon is arrogance towards Obama, which alienated him last time after he went ahead with building settlements after a heartfelt plea from Obama and other powerful peace builders in the US and Isreal. Sometimes he comes across as boastful of Isreal's military might. Sometimes you would think he is making amends for his previous stint as PM. I mean a Leader of Isreal should have humility, it is a must, especially for a nation like Isreal. Isreal has an existential problem with some of its neighbours, and personally do not mind even if they have nukes because i think they are in safe hands (rationally minded people who can reign in the PM, like most of the defence/security bosses if he strays dangerously). I don't know much about Chuck Hagel but from the apparently factual bits and pieces i gather he is the right Men for the job. An action hungry PM like Nethanyhu, needs mature strong willed independent democrats in the USA so as to prevent another large scale war in the middle east that will hurt Isreal and many innocents of the World. People who know how to achieve an enduring peace in the World aren't from one nation/race/tribe or kingdom, they can be found amongst Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Americans, Russians, Africans, Asians and amongst the primitive of the primitive. Ever wondered why some of this isolataed so called undeveloped tribes don't have violence amongst themselves?

    January 8, 2013 at 4:35 am | Reply
  3. helove

    We have to change our way of thinking too. I was shocked to learn that some individuals believe more guns, guns in American schools, can stop gun violence in the USA. Remember some People in leadership positions in the US believed fighting against Iraq would boost the US economy. As if they are not blessed with the ability to save lives by being in leadership positions. Or ignoring the plight of Children of so called 3rd world countries, which partly caused obesity and disease amongst kids and pets of so called 1st world countries. Some powerful people in powerful countries of this world are pretty sick and they don't seem to have a clue (Wild power politics, murderous interests, selfishness, greed, unpredictable, inconsistent policies, etc...). Shouldn't celebrate much, a vast majority of us have such evils in our hearts, only that we don't have the power.

    January 8, 2013 at 5:45 am | Reply
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