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Hagel’s Atlantic Council Publishes “Israel Apartheid” Column

Here’s the home page of the Atlantic Council today, which is chaired by Obama’s potential secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel (h/t Noah Pollak):

The column, by Atlantic Council member Arnaud de Borchgrave, makes the following argument:

A majority of Israelis recoil in horror at the very thought of emulating the regime of apartheid, a system of institutionalized racial segregation once practiced in South Africa, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Yet that is what Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu considers less threatening than full-fledged Palestinian independence.

Apartheid is what gradually emerged in the West Bank under Israeli occupation since Israel’s victory in the Six Day War almost half a century ago. 

In South Africa during the Cold War, apartheid was seen as the only effective defense against world communism. And the African National Congress saw the Soviet Union as its best bet for dismantling apartheid and establishing black majority rule.

Netanyahu and his Likud Party allies now view continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank as the lesser of two evils.

Critics have long used the debunked apartheid analogy as a way to delegitimize and slander Israel. With the buzz growing over Hagel’s potential nomination, it’s surprising that his organization would publish such a blatant attack on Israel on the front page of its website on today of all days.

At the Daily Beast, Eli Lake provides more details on the pro-Israel community’s opposition to Hagel’s possible nomination:

A senior pro-Israel advocate in Washington told The Daily Beast on Thursday, “The pro-Israel community will view the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel in an extremely negative light. His record is unique in its animus towards Israel.”

Josh Block, a former spokesman for AIPAC and the CEO and president of the Israel Project, told The Daily Beast, “While in the Senate, Hagel voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, refused to call on the E.U. to designate Hezbollah a terrorist group, and consistently voted against sanctions on Iran for their illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. It is a matter of fact that his record on these issues puts him well outside the mainstream Democratic and Republican consensus.”

In the past, Hagel has even garnered opposition from pro-Israel Democrats who have defended Obama’s Israel record. Ira Forman, who was in charge of the Obama reelection campaign’s outreach to Jewish voters, said in 2009—after Hagel was named co-chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board—that he would have opposed Hagel’s nomination for a more substantive position. (Forman declined to comment on Hagel’s possible nomination Thursday.) 

According to a Hagel ally quoted in the article, he will likely try to mount a charm offensive with pro-Israel senators. If that’s the plan, publishing articles like the one above probably isn’t the best way to go about it.


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