Mon Jan 14, 2013, 02:48 PM
DonViejo (17,540 posts)
Chuck Hagel Accusers Who Allege Anti-Semitism Getting Pushback
by Peter Beinart Jan 14, 2013 4:45 AM EST
Critics from Elliott Abrams to The Wall Street Journal have been attacking Obama’s defense secretary nominee as ‘anti-Jewish’ or ‘anti-Israel,’ but are sounding a retreat after being hammered by the likes of Thomas Friedman and Richard Haass.
From the beginning, Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense has been about more than just the policies he’d pursue at the Pentagon. It’s been about the terms of legitimate discourse in Washington, D.C. And in this regard, even though he’s yet to be confirmed, Hagel is already proving an agent of change.
He’s proving an agent of change because over the past week or so, for the first time I can remember, the Jewish right’s tactic of calling people they disagree with on Israel policy anti-Semitic has begun to backfire.
In the beginning, the script seemed to be playing out in familiar ways. On Dec. 13, after reports surfaced that President Obama might pick Hagel, an anonymous Senate aide emailed the Weekly Standard to warn: “Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite.” The aide added, “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.”
That’s how it started: an anonymous attack on Hagel for something he never said. Hagel had never said the “Jewish lobby secretly controls U.S. foreign policy.” He had said the “Jewish lobby”—an imprecise but hardly offensive term given that American Jewish officials use it themselves—“intimidates a lot of people up here.” That statement, which was praised for its honesty by the man Hagel said it to, the (Jewish) former Clinton administration peace processor Aaron Miller, is anti-Semitic only if you believe it is anti-Semitic to suggest that AIPAC—like every other major lobby group in Washington—cultivates the impression that consistently disagreeing with them could cost members of Congress their seats. If AIPAC doesn’t cultivate that impression, it’s not doing its job.
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