ZOA’s Klein says Jewish leaders called him to stop opposing Hagel

Click photo to download. Caption: Chuck Hagel. Credit: U.S. Senate.

(JNS.org) American Jewish leaders have pressed the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) to stop publicly opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary because making that a “Jewish issue” is “bad for the Jews,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

“I was called by major Jewish leaders, personally called, and [they] told me to stop our campaign against Hagel,” ZOA President Mort Klein told the Post.

ZOA was “the only major Jewish group to publicly oppose Hagel and [John O.] Brennan [for CIA head]” besides the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), according to Klein, who explained that such was the case because Jewish organizations are “frightened of making an issue seem more important to Jews than others.”  

Klen said Feb. 12 that “AJC, AIPAC, ADL [and] the Conference of Presidents never came out and said we oppose this man [Hagel] because he is horrible on Iran, he is horrible on terrorism, horrible on Israel, horrible on fighting radical Islam.”

On Feb. 14, following a Washington Free Beacon report that Hagel said “the [U.S.] State Department is an adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office” during a 2007 speech at Rutgers University, RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks demanded a response from Hagel to that comment and said “Senate Republicans are right to insist that final action on this nomination not be rushed.” Hagel previously came under fire after the revelation of 2008 remarks to Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller that “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here (on Capitol Hill).”

“Unfortunately, if true, this is part of a very troubling pattern with Chuck Hagel,” Brooks said of the comment at Rutgers.

Hagel chairs the Atlantic Council think tank, which in December published a column titled “Israel’s Apartheid Policy” as well as a policy paper predicting that Iran “should be viewed as a potential natural partner” for the U.S. He did not sign various pro-Israel letters backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) while he served in the Senate, but did sign a 2009 letter asking Obama to directly negotiate with Hamas. But in his Senate confirmation hearing, Hagel said “No one individual vote, no one individual quote or no one individual statement defines me, my beliefs, or my record.”

Posted on February 14, 2013 .