Perhaps it's his war record. He was decorated for valor in the Vietnam War (which I detested). He was a mere sergeant. Since I was a mere corporal in our 1948 war, I find it elating to see a non-commissioned officer become Minister of Defense.
Like so many veterans who have seen war from close up (myself included), he has become an enemy of war. Wonderful.
NOW Hagel is violently attacked by all the neocon warmongers, almost none of whom has ever heard a bullet whistle in the wars to which they sent others, and the combined political regiments of the American Jewish establishment.
His main sin seems to be that he objects to war against Iran. To be against an attack on Iran means to be anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, indeed to wish for the destruction of Israel if not all Jews. Never mind that almost all present and past chiefs of the Israeli army and intelligence community object to an attack on Iran, too. But Binyamin Netanyahu knows better.
Last week, the former much-lauded chief of the Shin Bet painted a frightening picture of Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak at a security meeting to discuss the bombing of Iran some time ago. The two were in high spirits, puffing on cigars and drinking whiskey, much to the disgust of the assembled security chiefs. In Israel, cigars are considered an ostentatious luxury and drinking at work is taboo.
Netanyahu's spin-doctors retorted that Winston Churchill, too, was a brandy drinker and smoked cigars. Seems that spirits and cigars are not enough to make a Churchill.
Actually, I think that the appointment of Hagel may come as a relief to Netanyahu. After years of depicting the Iranian nuclear bomb as the end of the world, or at least of Israel, the bomb is mysteriously absent from Netanyahu's election campaign. Hagel's appointment may allow Netanyahu to climb down from this tree altogether.
But the catalogue of Hagel's crimes is much more extensive.
Many years ago he called the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington (would you believe it?) the "Jewish lobby." Until then, it was understood that AIPAC is mainly composed of Buddhists and financed by Arab billionaires like Abu Sheldon and Abd-al-Adelson.
HOWEVER, HAGEL'S most heinous sin is not often mentioned. While serving as the Republican senator for Nebraska, he once uttered the unspeakable words: "I am an American senator, not an Israeli senator!"
That is really the crux of the matter.
US senators are nearly all Israeli senators. Ditto for US congressmen. Hardly any of them would dare to criticize the Israeli government on any issue, negligible as it may be. Criticizing Israel is political suicide. Not only does the Jewish lobby use its huge resources to get loyal pro-Israelis elected and re-elected, but it openly employs these resources to unseat the few elected officials who dare to criticize Israel. They almost always succeed.
In the present election campaign, the Likud is showing again and again (and again) the scene of Netanyahu addressing the US congress. The senators and congressmen are seen wildly applauding after every single sentence, jumping up and down like children in gymnastics class. The text of the clip says: "When Netanyahu speaks, the world listens!"
(A curiosity: right after this shameful scene, the clip shows Netanyahu addressing the UN General Assembly. Since the applause there was sparse -- hardly anyone, other than Avigdor Lieberman and the other members of the Israeli delegation in the half-empty hall did applaud -- the editors of the clip used a little trick: they took the applause from the US Congress and transferred it to the UN Assembly hall.)
Somebody sent me a satirical piece saying that if Hagel's appointment is not cancelled by the US Senate, Israel will have to use its veto power to block it. In such a case, the senate would have to muster a 90% majority to overcome the veto. If this fails, President Obama would have to choose another Defense Secretary from a list of three names provided by Netanyahu.
Jokes aside, the Israeli defense establishment is not worried by the Hagel appointment. They seem to know him as quite receptive to Israeli requests. Several Israeli generals have already come to his defense.