During election season, there wasn’t much accord between the Republican Jewish Coalition and the National Jewish Democratic Council. But here’s one area on which the two partisan groups have historically concurred: They haven’t been too keen on Chuck Hagel.
With Hagel now being discussed as the leading contender for defense secretary, the RJC is saying that nominating the Republican former senator would be "a slap in the face for every American who is concerned about the safety of Israel.” The RJC cited what it called "a long list of actions Hagel has taken that raise alarms about his failure to support Israel."
By contrast, the NJDC has been conspicuously mum on the prospective nomination.
"Conspicuous" because the NJDC five years ago leveled a very similar litany of Israel-related grievances against Hagel, back when the Nebraska Republican was a prospective GOP presidential candidate. (Indeed, the RJC later cited the NJDC’s statement when Obama has reached out to Hagel.)
Back in 2009, when President Obama appointed Hagel to co-chair the President’s National Intelligence Advisory Board, the NJDC’s then executive director, Ira Forman, reserved criticism, as The Weekly Standard reported at the time.
"Anybody who’s looking for purity from us is going to be disappointed," he said, after apparently being pressed to criticize Hagel’s appointment. Forman at the time also suggested that the RJC was engaging in selective criticism and hadn’t been so exercised about Hagel until the former Republican senator was embraced by Obama.
But Forman (who since went on to be the 2012 Obama campaign’s Jewish outreach coordinator) added: "If [Hagel] was taking a policy role, we’d have real concerns."
Well, now with Hagel being talked about for a much more significant position in a second Obama administration, The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake followed up with Forman, who declined to comment.
Lake’s article looked at worries among some pro-Israel activists regarding Hagel’s possible nomination.
Buzzfeed reported that various unnamed Jewish leaders attending this year’s White House Chanukah party were worked up about a possible Hagel nomination.
Ed Koch is also exercised.
Meanwhile, J Street, the dovish Israel policy group, has leapt to Hagel’s defense, saying he would be a "fine choice" for the job and a "staunch friend" of Israel.
And former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer tells Politico that Hagel is getting a bad rap from pro-Israel critics, while fellow former diplomat Aaron David Miller says he’s an admirer.
Hat tip: Washington Free Beacon for noting the Weekly Standard article