MSM Attacks Hagel Attackers
Chuck Hagel is going to face a lot of questions in his confirmation hearing as Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense. Many Senators have pointed out his questionable judgments on Israel, Iran, the Iraq War. In fact most of the foreign policy positions he took as a Nebraska senator were proved by events to be wrong.
In the national press Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal and the Journal's editorial board have raised significant objections to his nomination. The New York Times and the Washington Post predictably responded with one of their abusive ad hominem campaigns.
For example, a New York Times editorial Tuesday calls Hagel's critics "dishonest":
Mr. Hagel's independence and willingness to challenge Republican orthodoxy on Iraq, sanctions on Iran and other issues - both in the Senate and later as an administration adviser - have so alarmed neocons, hard-line pro-Israel interest groups and some Republican senators that they unleashed a dishonest campaign to pre-emptively bury the nomination. It failed, but the confirmation process could be bruising. The opponents are worried that Mr. Hagel will not be sufficiently in lock step with the current Israeli government and cannot be counted on to go to war against Iran over its nuclear program if it comes to that.
Richard Cohen at the Washington Post goes further in his op-ed piece, "The tarring of Chuck Hagel," accusing Bret Stephens of "character assassination." Cohen reduces the many negatives Stephens lists to one minor verbal misstep:
Chuck Hagel is accused of uttering the no-no phrase "the Jewish lobby" - supposedly a virtual confession of anti-Semitism.
The actual phrase that Stephens objected to, not reported by Cohen, was: "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.
Talking about a Jewish lobby that wants a national holiday on Yom Kippur isn't anti-Semitic. Talking about an Israeli lobby that petitions Congress on behalf of Israel is not anti-Semitic. There is however a long history of anti-Semitic accusations dating back to the middle ages that an international Jewish conspiracy runs the world. Hitler believed that Jewish bankers ran international finance, and Henry Ford wrote pamphlets about the threat of "the international Jew." A few years ago Oliver Stone blamed the "Jewish control of the media" for preventing an open discussion about the Holocaust. One aspect of this conspiracy theory is that the "Jewish lobby" in Washington controls U.S. foreign policy, against the best interests of the United States.
In 2007, Harvard professor Steven Walt and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. According to critics the book is anti-Semitic, while its supporters claim it's simply a realistic report of the facts that others are afraid to whisper. As Bret Stephens points out, the authors avoid the phrase "Jewish lobby," in favor of "Israel lobby." A 2006 article in the London Review of Books summarized some of their arguments:
Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? ... Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the 'Israel Lobby'. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country - in this case, Israel - are essentially identical.
Critics of Israel positively foam at the mouth if anyone raises the charge of anti-Semitism, and it's true that no government ought to be off bounds and above criticism. Walt and Meersheimer however go further than policy disagreements with Israeli politicians, and their article is strewn with statements like, "the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around."
It would be stupid to equate Chuck Hagel with anti-Semites like Hitler or Henry Ford, but in a time when Israel's existence is threatened, it's fair that Hagel be grilled about his past comments.
Unless Hagel was somehow taken out of context, his statement appears to be consonant with the Walt/Meersheimer description of an all-powerful Israeli lobby. Another Hagel quote not mentioned by Richard Cohen: "I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator," implying that many of his colleagues are in the pockets of the Jewish lobby.
Cohen's article in the Washington Post however reduces the "Jewish lobby" comment to a matter of political correctness, revealing the hypocrisy of the "anti-PC Wall Street Journal." Cohen bizarrely argues that back when Hagel made the statement, everyone used the phrase, just like, according to Cohen, everyone called women "girls" back in the 1970s. (Huh?)
Cohen then goes on to add his own version of the Jewish-puppet-masters-pull-the-strings-in-Congress myth:
In fact, [Hagel] could be the necessary corrective to the Netanyahu government's expectation that anything Israel wants from Washington it's entitled to get.
Really? Under four years of Obama, Israel gets anything it wants?
Call it Standard Leftist Operating Procedure. SLOP. When someone disagrees, don't argue; dishonestly accuse them of dishonesty, assassinate their character by indicting them for character assassination.