By Jamal Kanj
The Israeli lobby is flexing its muscle against Barack Obama’s potential nominee to be the next Secretary of Defence.
The frontrunner Chuck Hagel is co-chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board Committee.
Hagel was a Republican Senator representing Nebraska from 1996 until his retirement in 2008.
He was one of few senators who crossed party lines on issues most important to the American people.
Despite his Republican credentials and being considered by a Democratic President, Israeli firsters from both parties are united in pre-empting Hagel’s official nomination.
Not because he is ill-equipped to lead the US armed forces, but for not being adequately submissive to the Jewish lobby while in the Senate.
When asked on NBC Meet the Press program last week if he would support the President’s apparent nominee, leading Israeli firster Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer responded: “I’d have to study his record.”
Schumer’s response on a nominee by a President from his own party was uncharacteristic of American politics.
Appearing on the same news program Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warned that the presumed President’s pick will have tough questioning from his fellow Republicans regarding “his position towards Israel”.
Republican Jewish Coalition declared that such nomination would “be a slap in the face of every American who is concerned about the safety of Israel”.
Democratic member of the House Elliot Engel said on C-Span that Hagel’s “endemic hostility towards Israel” is “troublesome for me and for a lot of other people”.
Another pro-Israel advocate in Washington was quoted by the online Daily Beast last Thursday “The pro-Israel community will view the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel in an extremely negative light.
“His record is unique in its animus towards Israel.”
The power of the Israeli lobby is the best kept secret among American elected officials.
I worked with an ex-Congressman who at the time was retained as a lobbyist for an organization I worked for in San Diego.
He had a near perfect Israeli voting score during his service in Congress.
He once confided to me that his votes and many of his colleagues’ on issues pertaining to the Middle East were influenced first and foremost by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Jewish financiers.
He said while sympathetic to the Palestinians, he also remembered those (he named a few) who were ousted when “Jewish” money started pouring into their opponent’s coffer during election.
In fact, I remember attending a meeting with another Congressman in late 80s who spoke off the record of his disgust with the power of the pro-Israeli Jewish lobby.
He voiced his admiration for House member James Traficant who distinguished himself by standing up to the Israeli lobby. He was elected nine times before resigning to serve a jail sentence following a court conviction.
Back to Hagel, on Sunday President Obama described his choice as someone who “is a patriot”.
“He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the US Senate, somebody who served this country with valour in Vietnam,” he said.
Hagel served as an infantry squad leader and was a recipient of Cross of Gallantry, two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge during his service in Vietnam.
Like the old Iron Curtain, the Israeli lobby is the new Big Brother’s “thought police” inhibiting open debate on a US foreign policy inconsistent with the principles of the American Constitution.
Ironically, patriot Americans are shoved aside by the Jewish lobby’s “thought police” while individuals with dual Israeli citizenship or ex-Israeli soldiers or even suspected spies were appointed unchallenged to the highest offices in US administrations.
– Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes a weekly column on Arab issues and is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (This article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.)