"A top Israel advocate told The Daily Beast that 'the pro-Israel community will view the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel in an extremely negative light. His record is unique in its animus towards Israel.'
"'He is one of the most hostile critics of Israel that has ever been in the Senate,' Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told the newspaper The Algemeiner."
Media responses to this onslaught from the neo-con right, have not been plentiful. Just in time, however, John Judis, writing in The New Republic, arrives with this gift for those of us who find the pro-Israel attacks on Hagel to be both abhorent and utterly without merit.
He starts by identifying the forces aligned against Hagel:
"The stories of Hagel's looming nomination have aroused intense opposition -- but almost exclusively from individuals and organizations that back Israel's right-wing government and find Hagel's views on Israel repellent.
"These critics include the Republican Jewish Coalition, which is funded by gambling mogul and greater-Israel proponent Sheldon Adelson; the Zionist Organization of America, which also opposes a two-state solution; and a sundry collection of fellow travellers, including the Weekly Standard, Commentary, and the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin."
Judis, a veteran reporter and columnist, comes to the Hagel story with sufficient information to reject the anti-Hagel uninformed smears from the neo-conservative right. He writes:
"I know something about Hagel. I spent several months talking to him and to people who know him for a profile I wrote for The New Republic in 2007 when he was considering running for president. I can't confidently say that he would make a good or great Secretary of Defense, but I can say with confidence that Hagel is a[n] honorable man who served with distinction as a senator and that his foreign policy views, including his positions on Israel and its American lobby, are, if anything, a reason to support rather than oppose his nomination. ...- Advertisement -
"Unlike some Prairie Republicans, Hagel was a committed internationalist who saw NATO, the United Nations the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund as essential to American foreign policy. He wanted the United States to exert influence internationally, but by working with other countries."
This is the man President Obama has hinted he wants as his next secretary of defense. He may or may not make the appointment. If he does, the forces that want cabinet officials "100 percent pro-Israel" will step up their attacks.
These forces will be described as the Israel Lobby. But perhaps the time has come to ask, are we doing a favor to the "Israel Lobby" by granting them a U.S. "lobby" status?
In the American political system, a lobby is a U.S. group that pushes decision-makers to do what the lobby believe is best on a particular issue. The National Rifle Association (NRA), for example, has long used its political power to block laws that curb what the NRA and its members believe is a God-given right for American citizens to own and shoot fire arms, including assault military weapons.
That belief will be intensively debated in the next few months in the aftermath of the mass school slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut. The NRA now has the burden of arguing its political case against the backdrop of Newtown.
That is what lobbies do; they argue their cause. Some lobbies hang on to their power too long, as was the case with the Tobacco Lobby, that only now has become something of a pariah in American life.
It is important to keep in mind, however, as we consider a congressional debate over guns or tobacco, that our gun laws and our restriction on the sale of and advertising of tobacco, apply only in the U.S. They are domestic issues.
The political discourse over the President's cabinet is very much a domestic issue. Let us be clear about this; input from a foreign power has no place in these decisions.