Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) yesterday became the latest pro-Israel Jewish Democrat to say Chuck Hagel should get the secretary of defense job:
Senator Hagel and I had a constructive meeting, during which he answered a wide range of questions and allayed many of my concerns. Senator Hagel clarified his position on Iran sanctions and Israel, and I am confident he is firmly committed to ensuring a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. It also is clear to me that Senator Hagel will work to promote equal treatment and opportunities for all service members.
Other top Jewish Senate Dems on board: Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who heads the Armed Services Committee; Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.); Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who authored last year’s enhanced security relationship act; Chuck Shumer (D-N.Y.), who likes to call himself a "guardian" of Israel.
Christians United for Israel, meantime, is doubling the anticipated number of pastors likely to descend on the Capitol next Tuesday to lobby against the pick, from the 200 it had projected Wednesday to 400. From the Washington Free Beacon:
“The response to our call to attend this emergency summit has been overwhelming,” CUFI executive director David Brog told the Washington Free Beacon. “We initially hoped that we could get 200 Christian leaders to fly in last minute. But we’ve already registered 400 leaders, and the calls are still coming in.”
J Street, in anticipation, is circulating a version of its Hagel Myths and Facts to Senate offices, that includes as well as a dig or two at CUFI:
Some of those most vociferously opposed to Senator Hagel are funders of settlement expansion in the West Bank, and who otherwise take positions which threaten Israel’s democracy and Jewish character, drawing strong criticism from the mainstream Jewish community.
There’s a link in the J Street Senate-blast to this JTA story from 2008 documenting then Reform leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s calls not to cooperate with CUFI. It should be noted that since then, CUFI has taken pains to show that the vast majority of the fundraising by its affiliate, John Hagee Ministries, is spent within the Green Line, and that it distanced itself from a group that it had funded, Im Tirtzu, after the group attacked human rights NGOs. Also noteworthy: Yoffie’s more recent hecsher for CUFI, from last June.
Finally, the Republican Jewish Coalition posted this web ad compiling concerns expressed by Jewish leaders and Democrats about Hagel. (And it is careful to note that these are "concerns" and not outright opposition.)