Still Wondering If Chuck Hagel Is the Wrong Choice for Secretary of Defense?

by Nathaniel Botwinick

Wonder no more, as JStreet has endorsed the former senator

J Street believes former US Senator Chuck Hagel would be a fine choice as Secretary of Defense and is appalled by efforts surfacing in recent days to question his commitment to the state of Israel and to Middle East peace.

Senator Hagel has been one of the most thoughtful voices in Washington for two decades on questions relating to American policy in the Middle East. He has also been a staunch friend of the State of Israel and a trusted ally in the Senate, speaking out on behalf of America’s commitment to Israel’s security.

Why is JStreet’s endorsement an embarrassment? Let’s recap their previous actions — they’ve opposed sanctions against Iran, lobbied against U.S. vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions denouncing Israel, and engaged with groups promoting boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel. But JStreet’s endorsement is not surprising given Chuck Hagel’s record. Just like JStreet, Hagel has been consistently wrong on Middle East politics. In 2008, Hagel vigorously opposed the surge in Iraq which eventually turned the tide in the war, and he has repeatedly refused to support Israel against Hamas or Iran. During his time in Congress, he fought against sanctions on Iran, and insisted that the threat of air strikes against Iran be left off the table. If there were any questions remaining regarding his fitness for Secretary of Defense, JStreet’s endorsement should be the final strike against him.