In later stages of the John Bolton battle, Senator Chuck
Schumer made the statement in a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting that "a vote
against Bolton was a vote against Israel." Schumer, who strongly supported Bolton, was wrong on that front. Every U.S. ambassador to the UN has been a
friend to Israel and has been supportive of Israel's security interests. Every U.S. president has been supportive of
Israel's core security interests -- but there are legitimate differences on what
Avigdor Lieberman, until this week Israel's foreign minister, has a history
of making disgusting, bigoted comments about Palestinians and Arabs. He is a disgrace to Israel -- and I find it
objectionable that he sat in the Israeli cabinet at the right hand of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. My
stating that I find one, or even a few, of the leaders of Israel to be
short-sighted, wrong-headed, and ultimately reckless about the security and
interests of their own nation does not make me or anyone an anti-Semite or
anti-Israel. I had respect for Prime
Minister Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni -- and have grown to respect a
number of the positions of Ariel Sharon.
But Chuck Hagel voted for John Bolton, who just before his
appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that there
is no moral equivalence between innocents killed in Lebanon during Israel's
strike there and those Israelis who may have been killed by Hezbollah
incursions into Israel. Again, I'm
disgusted by what were Bolton's public remarks -- which the State Department had
the good sense to excise from his testimony moments before he gave it (issuing
one set of remarks with the statements and then another without).
But Chuck Hagel voted for the guy Chuck Schumer wanted. And that AIPAC wanted. And that Israel itself no doubt wanted.
Bolton got a recess appointment -- but he never got his
confirmation vote. And who was the block
on this great friend of Israel and anti-United Nations crusader?
Not Chuck Hagel. Try
Senator Joseph Lieberman, who refused to vote in favor of cloture because the executive branch would not share vital but classified information with Congress -- either in the base-relocation debate or in the Bolton case. Then-Senator Lincoln Chafee gave another
assist at the final stage of the battle -- but the three senators who got in the
way of the AIPAC-desired John Bolton were George Voinovich, Joseph Lieberman,
and Lincoln Chafee.
Not Chuck Hagel.
Hagel's instabake critics need to read up on some history
and some facts about the man. It's
irresponsible of the Wall Street Journal and other publications to cast around
the slanderous accusation of anti-Semitism, which is akin to bigotry and
racism, when there are legitimate policy differences about Israel policy
Hagel has been a steadfast supporter of Israel and its
interests -- and has been the kind of friend to step back and not support
Israel's U.S. congressional machinery when it is
hyperventilating in ways that hurt it.
Hagel is a genuine friend of Israel's long-term interests and believes
that the status quo in Israel today is undermining Israel's status as a
democratic and Jewish state. Controversial statement? Just
about every responsible Israeli political official has said exactly the same.