Wednesday, 9 January 2013
Hagel, Obama and Brennan
Source: USA Today
A friend of mine up in Connecticut, Judy Block had sent me an email earlier today triggered by a column on The Daily Beast by arch J Streeter, Peter Beinert, entitled, "Why AIPAC Won't Fight Hagel".
A range of rightist pro-Israel groups remains committed to upending the nomination, among them the Zionist Organization of America, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Committee for Israel, which on Monday launched a website headlined “Chuck Hagel is not a responsible option.”
Also opposed was Christians United for Israel. "While we admire his past service to our country, his record concerning Iran and Hezbollah indicates an unacceptable blindness to the greatest security threat of our day," it said in a statement.
Among centrist Jewish groups, the American Jewish Committee has written to Democratic senators urging them to oppose the nomination.
“AJC has shared our concerns with members of the U.S. Senate, who have the responsibility to ask the probing questions about Hagel’s record and vision,” AJC said in a statement.
For their part, Hagel’s Jewish allies have pushed back hard. J Street, Americans for Peace Now and Israel Policy Forum all have endorsed him.
“It is particularly troubling that some claiming to represent the pro-Israel community have tried to impugn Sen. Hagel’s commitment to the U.S.-Israel special relationship and our countries’ shared security interests,” J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a letter sent to all senators."
Over the years since I first saw Obama speak I met him about half a dozen times, often at Palestinian and Arab-American community events in Chicago including a May 1998 community fundraiser at which Edward Said was the keynote speaker. In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.” He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, “Keep up the good work!”
But Obama’s gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had “been courting the pro-Israel constituency.” He co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code allowing the state of Illinois to lend money to the Israeli government. Among his early backers was Penny Pritzker — now his national campaign finance chair — scion of the liberal but staunchly Zionist family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. (The Hyatt Regency hotel on Mount Scopus was built on land forcibly expropriated from Palestinian owners after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967). He has also appointed several prominent pro-Israel advisers."
Posted on 01/09/2013 7:11 AM by Jerry Gordon
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