Choice is a blow to U.S.-Israel relations and Obama's relationship with Jewish community
RJC Urges Senate to Vote No on Hagel
Washington, D.C. (January 7, 2013) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition today expressed its strong opposition to President Obama's decision to name former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Hagel's record regarding Israel and his positions on Iran raise serious concerns for Americans who care about Israel and about a strong and effective U.S. policy in the Middle East.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "This nomination is a blow to U.S.-Israel relations, to the President's relationship with the American Jewish community, and to U.S. security in the Middle East. It signals that the President, having been re-elected, will now distance himself from Israel. We believe that when Senator Hagel's weak record is laid on the table, Senators will rightly decline to support his nomination."
The RJC was the first major Jewish organization to go on record as strongly opposing a Hagel nomination. Many others, including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, JINSA, and the Zionist Organization of America, have also signaled their serious concerns about Hagel.
In addition, members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle have expressed their opposition, or withheld their expected support, for their former colleague's nomination.
Background: Excerpts from Chuck Hagel's record
* October 2000: Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.
* November 2001: Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to continue his policy of not meeting with the Yasir Arafat until the Palestinian leader took steps to end the violence against Israel.
* June 2004: Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit.
* December 2005: Hagel was one of only 27 Senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.
* August 2006: Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
* August 2006: Anti-Israel group CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel, "Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel..."
* March 2009: Hagel was one of 10 former and current foreign policy officials who signed a letter urging Pres. Obama to open direct talks with Hamas leaders.
* On Iran: Hagel, writing in a May 2006 article for The Financial Times, explicitly ruled out the military option against Iran that Pres. Obama claims to have 'kept on the table.'
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