Anyone who believes that Israel’s future is secured by shedding itself of occupation and working to establish a viable Palestinian state cannot doubt that the true friends of Israel are those prepared to act as a sort of loyal opposition in telling its governments, as they move ever further to the right, that they are endangering the future of the Jewish state with the perpetual expansion of settlements, the disparaging of Palestinian leaders committed to a negotiated two-state solution, the attempts to make it all but impossible for East Jerusalem to be the capital of an independent Palestine, and by maintaining the oppression of another people in a way that increasingly eats at Israel’s claim to be democratic.

That has been Hagel’s position and his nomination raises the prospect that there may finally be a visible debate in the US about what it now means to be pro-Israel.