Apparently the contracted services of Lanny Davis and apocalyptic clownshoes agit-prop of Billy Kristol and co. are the tip of a spear with no shaft. As Nathan Guttman of the JD Forward reports, organized Jewish opposition to President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary evaporated following yesterday’s announcement:
Most Jewish groups have made clear they will not lobby against Hagel’s confirmation in the Senate, leaving the floor for only smaller groups on the right wing of the Jewish community to attack the former Nebraska Senator as anti-Semitic and unfriendly to Israel.
Jewish activists were unhappy with the choice but fell in line with their traditional reluctance to challenge a president’s right to pick his cabinet members.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, widely seen as the lobbying group Hagel spoke about in his 2007 remarks referring to the “Jewish lobby” that has “intimidated lawmakers,” notably refrained from taking any stand, either public or private, regarding Hagel’s nomination.
“AIPAC does not take positions on presidential nominations,” said the lobby’s spokesman Marshall Wittmann in an email to the Forward. Capitol Hill sources confirmed that they had not heard from AIPAC on the issue.
“AIPAC’s perspective is that they need to work with the next defense secretary,” explained Steve Rosen, a former lobbyist with the group. “They can’t just look from a standpoint of how you feel about a nomination but also from the day after and how you learn to work with Hagel.” Rosen, who is a critic of Hagel, added that as Secretary of Defense, Hagel and his deputy and assistants will have significant influence on many issues the pro-Israel lobby deals with daily, including foreign aid, procurement, military cooperation and defense technology.
Other Jewish groups have also relaxed their criticism, stressing the need to move forward rather than dwell on whether Hagel is worthy of the post. The Anti Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, in a statement issued Monday said that while Hagel would not have been his first choice, “I respect the President’s prerogative.”
Foxman told the Forward on Monday he did not change his views on Hagel, since he had never flat-out opposed the nomination.
“We never said we were going to fight him,” he said, adding that “from the moment that [Obama] announced it, this is a different reality.”
Foxman, who was widely referred to as the first Jewish leader to speak out against Hagel, stating that the Nebraska Senator’s comments on the Jewish lobby “border on anti-Semitism”, explained he did not accuse Hagel of being anti-Semitic. “In the world we live in, one cannot be nuanced,” he said.
The only mainstream Jewish group to actively address the Senate on Hagel has been the American Jewish Committee, which in a letter urged Senators to “fully probe” Hagel.
Previously: Hagel, Brennan, Kerry – Business As Usual