Commentary Magazine


Topic: USO

Hagel: “Let the Jews Pay for it”

Adam Kredo reports that Chuck Hagel’s anti-Israel animosity was obvious well before his career in Congress. While heading up the USO, he clashed with Jewish leaders over a USO port in Haifa:

Hagel, who served as president and CEO of the World USO from 1987 to 1990, expressed intense opposition to the USO Haifa Center during a tumultuous 1989 meeting with Jewish leaders, according to multiple sources involved in the fight to keep the post open.

“He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it’,” said Marsha Halteman, director for military and law enforcement programs at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which led the battle to keep USO Haifa operational. …

“He essentially told us that if we wanted to keep the USO [in Haifa] open—and when I say ‘we’, he meant ‘the Jews’—he said the Jews could pay for it,” said Halteman, who recalled being taken aback by the comment.

“I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic,” she said. “He was playing into that dual loyalty thing.”

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Adam Kredo reports that Chuck Hagel’s anti-Israel animosity was obvious well before his career in Congress. While heading up the USO, he clashed with Jewish leaders over a USO port in Haifa:

Hagel, who served as president and CEO of the World USO from 1987 to 1990, expressed intense opposition to the USO Haifa Center during a tumultuous 1989 meeting with Jewish leaders, according to multiple sources involved in the fight to keep the post open.

“He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it’,” said Marsha Halteman, director for military and law enforcement programs at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which led the battle to keep USO Haifa operational. …

“He essentially told us that if we wanted to keep the USO [in Haifa] open—and when I say ‘we’, he meant ‘the Jews’—he said the Jews could pay for it,” said Halteman, who recalled being taken aback by the comment.

“I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic,” she said. “He was playing into that dual loyalty thing.”

Eventually, a Jewish member of the USO board helped bring in money to keep it open, reports Kredo. But the fact that Hagel went out of his way to oppose the Israeli USO port–over objections from the pro-Israel community, the Navy, and Congress–is part of a pattern. His response about the “Jews” paying for it, because it was in Israel, is also revealing. While Hagel’s supporters will likely argue that this happened back in the late 1980s, that hardly means it should be discounted. In fact, it shows how deep-seated Hagel’s hostility toward the Jewish state has been.

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