The National Jewish Democratic Council has been notably quiet on the defense secretary nomination debate so far. Now that it’s clear Chuck Hagel’s the choice, the group finally issued this quasi-endorsement today:
“President Barack Obama’s unprecedented pro-Israel credentials are unquestionable, and setting policy starts and stops with the President. While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, former Senator Chuck Hagel will follow the President’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel—on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran’s nuclear program.”
The NJDC is in an awkward position, considering Hagel’s anti-Israel history, which was adeptly summarized in an opposition research document published by one Democratic group in 2007:
As Senator Hagel sits around for six more months and tries to decide whether to launch a futile bid for the White House, he has a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel. Consider this:
- In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
- In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.
- In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refsued to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yassir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.
- In December 2005, Hagel was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authroity to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.
- In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran’s nuclear program at the G-8 summit.
That Democratic group was, of course, the NJDC.
While the organization said Hagel had “a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel” in 2007, it was markedly less inquisitive two years later when he was appointed to President Obama’s intelligence advisory board. According to the NJDC, the appointment was fine, as long as Hagel wasn’t helping shape policy.
“If [Hagel] was taking a policy role, we’d have real concerns,” said former NJDC head Ira Forman.
Based on the group’s half-hearted endorsement of Hagel’s defense secretary nomination, apparently not. Which proves once again that allegiance to Obama overrides any principles the NJDC claims to have. Is there any better example of why not to listen to this group the next time it tries to argue Obama is the most pro-Israel president in the history of mankind?
This–not organizations like the Emergency Committee for Israel that criticize anti-Israel Democrats–is why support for the Jewish state may tragically become a partisan issue. With one simple decision, Obama has demolished any pro-Israel credibility the NJDC may have had left. Pro-Israel Democrats who stuck their necks out for him during his reelection should take note: This is the grief you get in return.