Deroy Murdock: Hagel sure sounds like an anti-Semite, doesn’t he?
posted at 1:46 pm on February 22, 2013 by Guy Benson
Chuck Hagel’s confirmation may be a virtual fait accompli , but his critics continue to raise troubling questions about his character and preparedness for the position he seeks. Deroy Murdock enumerates a series of Hagel quotes about Jews and Israel in his column today, and asks readers to draw their own conclusions about what’s in Hagel’s heart. Unlike liberals, I’m very hesitant to pronounce someone a bigot based on political disagreements — and Hagel has provided explanations and disavowals on a number of the examples Murdock raises. The one comment that really bothers me, though, is this one:
Hagel tried to close USO’s Haifa retreat when he ran the United Service Organizations from 1987 to 1990. The facility was highly popular among U.S. sailors, 45,000 of whom visited the Israeli port in 1990, the Associated Press reports. “Chuck Hagel said the Haifa port is costing the U.S. too much [and] that if the Jews wanted one, the Jews should do the fundraising,” an unnamed supporter of the outpost told theWashington Free Beacon. “He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it.’” recalled Marsha Halteman, of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which backed USO Haifa. “I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic,” Halteman said. “He was playing into that dual loyalty thing.”
The most charitable defense of Hagel here is that he’s a gruff, old-school guy from the Midwest who’s long struggled to adopt appropriate verbiage when discussing Israel and its citizens. Indeed, as recently as last week, Hagel allegedly got misty-eyed when Chuck Schumer felt obliged to explain why some of his past formulations have been offensive to Jews. So is Hagel remarkably obtuse, or does he harbor some deeper issue with Jewish people? I don’t presume to know the answer to that question, but it’s distressing that we even have to consider it. Liberated from future accountability to voters, President Obama had a long list of potential candidates from which to select his nominee for Secretary of Defense, and this is the man he chose.