The following is a statement from the National Council of Young Israel concerning the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as Secretary of Defense:
“Following his testimony last week, the National Council of Young Israel has decided to oppose the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Senator Hagel’s long history of statements that were critical of Israel and Jewish activism very much concerned us. Properly, Senator Hagel has apologized for many of these statements, but he has not apologized for publicly berating Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War when Israeli cities were being indiscriminately attacked. His comment that Israel’s response to being attacked was a ‘sickening slaughter’ and the ‘systematic destruction of an American friend, the country and people of Lebanon’ was outrageous.
The job of Secretary of Defense is one of the most important positions in the country. Statements made by a Secretary of Defense are considered authoritative for U.S. policy and misspeaking could lead to a war. Senator Hagel’s confusing answers could cause major problems for U.S. policy if he continued in such a manner, especially when he would not have the time to prepare as he did for confirmation hearings.
Because of his track record of statements on Iran, there were concerns whether Senator Hagel supported the Obama Administration’s policy of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or containment. His confusing answers on this issue very much concern us, in that he has not changed his previous position that appeared to be one of favoring containment. In any case, the situation with Iran is a crisis situation and we need a Secretary of Defense that Iran fears, so they will not continue pursuing nuclear weapons, instead of one they endorse.
We support the Obama Administration’s policy of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. We lauded the Obama Administration for their complete support for Israel during their recent Gaza operation and their support for Israel in what appears to be an Israeli military strike in Syria to prevent deadly missiles from reaching Lebanon. There are many good candidates for Secretary of Defense. We waited until the confirmation hearings to take our position concerning Senator Hagel, but we believe it is obvious from his answers that Senator Hagel should not be entrusted with such an important job. Should he be confirmed, we hope Senator Hagel will prove us wrong, but we fear that our concerns are justified.
If his nomination is not withdrawn, we urge the Senate to reject his nomination.”