Chuck Hagel, Anti-Semitism, and American Jewish Apathy
"Israel Firster," "Jewish Lobby," "Fifth Column," and "Dual Loyalty" are several of the terms used to describe American Jews who care about Israel's survival in the face of very real and imminently dangerous and existential threats to her long-term viability. And notwithstanding Colin Powell's assertions to the contrary, the use of such terms on their face has always been considered anti-Semitic. But with the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Obama's choice to head up the Pentagon, the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism has taken a new direction and may very well be here to stay.
Hagel will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee today in the first step to joining Obama's cabinet as secretary of defense. Hagel's confirmation moved a step closer to fruition when Senator Chuck Schumer announced two weeks ago, "Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation." Schumer is Jewish, but, as is true of almost all liberal American Jews, he is a far cry from being considered a card-carrying member of the Israel Firster crowd. He is a Democrat who was silent just a few months ago in the face of boos and hisses from Democratic delegates reacting to the inclusion of Jerusalem and God in their party's platform.
But why should anyone expect Schumer to act selflessly in the interest of the American people whom he represents and the Jewish people living across the globe whose very survival depends on a supportive American government? When Schumer votes "yea" to Hagel's confirmation, he will be marching in lockstep with the 68% of American Jews who voted for Barack Obama in the past two elections (that number was even higher in Obama's 2008 win). Schumer and American Jews are selfish individuals who care little for the survival of the Jewish homeland or for strong national security here at home. Schumer's concern in particular is his political career, since he hopes to replace Harry Reid as the Senate Majority Leader. And in the case of American Jews, they vote to ensure free abortions for all, gay marriage, expansion of the entitlement state, and various other social concerns.
How do I know that Schumer cares little for Israel? Hagel's record on Israel is clear, and much has been written on the subject. (And not by the Jewish Lobby as Hagel labeled those who are concerned about Israel's well-being.) Analysts, commentators, scholars, and journalists on both sides of the aisle who care immensely about ensuring that good trumps evil in the world and who understand the strategic and global benefits to having a strong U.S.-Israeli relationship have spoken out.
Schumer's public statement at the end of his 90-minute meeting with Hagel reflected some of the most asinine reasoning I have ever heard from a public figure (which is pretty difficult to accomplish, given four years of the Obama-Biden administration under our belts, a Pelosi reign that would be laughable were it not so devastating, and the ongoing disastrous "leadership" of Reid in the Senate). Schumer rationalized (could he really believe this garbage, or does he just think that Americans are dumb enough to buy into whatever the Democrats espouse?):
I know some will question whether Senator Hagel's assurances are merely attempts to quiet critics as he seeks confirmation to this critical post. But I don't think so. Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago. His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality.
What exactly has changed for Israel in the past five years? Granted, the Arab Spring has made the neighborhood that much more unstable, but do the Chuckies truly believe that five years ago Israel was not in danger from her neighbors? Are they both so ignorant as to believe that Hagel's positions were justified five years ago because the poor Palestinians were the victims of Israeli aggression but that now that Hagel is up for the big leagues, the dynamics have changed? Were they not aware that five years ago, Iran's Ahmadinejad was calling for Israel to be wiped off the map and pursuing nuclear weapons without sanctions slowing him down? (Oh, right: Hagel knows about that, because he was against sanctions and in favor of chit-chatting with the mullahs).
Why were the Iranian-made weapons that flowed through the smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza insignificant five years ago and suddenly game-changing today? Why did Hagel believe that Hamas, Hezb'allah, Syria, and Iran were of little concern to Israel's survival five years ago, but a week after Obama nominates him to a cabinet position, Hagel has suddenly seen the light?
And why should anyone trust Chuck Schumer's opinion on any of this? Schumer seems to have completely ignored the fact that Hagel chairs the Atlantic Council with well-known anti-Semite Chas Freeman. This is the same Chas Freeman whose nomination in 2009 failed due to his open hostility to Israel and who then blamed the Israel Lobby. Only a month ago, Freeman stated:
In some countries, like the United States, Israel can rely upon a "fifth column" of activist sympathizers to amplify its messages, to rebut and discredit statements that contradict its arguments, facts, and fabrications, and to impugn the moral standing of those who make such statements.
And just last month, Hagel's organization posted an article entitled "Israel's Apartheid State" on the home page of its website. But Schumer is sure that Hagel's conversion is sincere and reliable. If he truly believes that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell him.
How do I know that American Jews care little for Israel and quite a lot about free abortions for all? The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. From the hundred Jewish women who yelled at me about the importance of electing the pro-choice Obama rather than the pro-Israel Romney while I sat on a panel at a speaking engagement prior to the election to the e-mails my mother received from friends chastising her for not ensuring that her granddaughters be able to obtain abortions, Jewish women seemingly care little about anything else.
But it is not just anecdotal evidence. American Jews voted overwhelmingly for a man who wears his disdain for Israel on his sleeve as if it's a badge of honor. They pulled the lever for the guy whose four years in office prodigiously prove what he meant when he promised daylight in the U.S./Israeli relationship. American Jews come out in droves to support the Democratic Party, notwithstanding the clear and convincing evidence that Republicans are far more supportive of the Jewish State than are those who inhabit the other side of the aisle. Israel is not their voting issue; abortion is their cause du jour (or perhaps, of the century).
With anti-Semitism on the rise across the world and Jews being told not to wear a kippah, Star of David, or any other indication of their religious faith in countries across Europe, one would think that Jews in the Diaspora, who recognized Holocaust Remembrance Day this week, would wake up to the dangers that confront their people. One would think that when the U.K. starts to unravel, and public pronouncements of blood libels and anti-Semitic comments become common occurrences, American Jews might determine that electing leaders who will support Israel in times of peril is of utmost importance.
Instead, American Jews read the anti-Israel op-eds of Thomas Friedman; attend lectures given by Peter Beinart, who supports a BDS campaign against products coming out of Judea and Samaria; and continue to vote overwhelmingly for those who are openly hostile to the Jewish State. Would that the lessons of just 63 years ago became imprinted in the psyches of these people.
Rather, Professor Richard Landes insightfully observed that these Jews "are subtly engaged in a proxy honor killing of Israel." It is proxy because they have enabled others to do the killing for them -- people like Beinart, Freidman, Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street, and others like them who are embarrassed by Israel are enabling and abetting its destruction.
Whatever the outcome of the Hagel hearings, liberal American Jews sat back and did nothing. While 400 Christian leaders went to Washington to lobby against Hagel, AIPAC, the AJC, and other Jewish organizations remained silent. The Endowment for Middle East Truth's founder, Sarah Stern, observed, "Chuck Hagel represents everything that is inimical to the survival of the State of Israel." What will it take for the people who should care the most to understand the implications of their apathy?