Since before President Obama officially nominated him as his next Secretary of Defense on Monday, former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) faced a wide-ranging set of criticisms including that he is "soft" on Iran and doesn't support Israel.
More troubling, a growing number of Hagel's critics are now going further in claiming that Hagel doesn't just not support Israel but is in fact an anti-Semite, which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as "hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group." These charges first emerged last month with an article by the The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens entitled "Chuck Hagel's Jewish Problem."
They have only become more frequent over the last few days however. Speaking of Hagel's coming nomination on Sunday, the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin said "This is not merely about Israel or Iran policy or defense spending. It is about the acceptability of the worst expression of anti-Semitism." The following day when Hagel was officially nominated, AEI's Danielle Pletka wrote in USA Today that Hagel displayed "troubling hints of anti-Semitism," while the Council on Foreign Relations' Elliot Abrams told NBR that Hagel appears to be "an anti-Semite. It's not just being anti-Israel. He's got a problem with what he calls the Jews."Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Interestingly, Hagel himself as a history of condemning others for anti-Semitism. While Stephens, Rubins, Pletka, and Abrams have made their allegations against a two-term Senator who, by some estimates, supported over $40 billion of U.S. aid to Israel while in the senate and visited the country regularly, Hagel has reserved his accusations for none other than the President and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who Hagel is now charged with appeasing.
In a letter dated December 21, 2005 — a few months after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became Iran's President — Senators Hagel and Evan Bayh (D-IN) wrote to then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to get the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution condemning "the anti-Semitic and hateful statements" Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had recently made."
The letter begins: "We write you to express our outrage at the anti-Semitic and hateful statements being made both by the President and by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran threatening the United States, denying the Holocaust, and rejecting the existence of the State of Israel."
The senators next express their appreciation to Kofi for personally criticizing the Iranian leaders' statements, and to the UN Security Council also condemning them. Deeming these actions insufficient, however, Hagel and Bayh insist that Kofi demonstrate "leadership" in ensuring the UN General Assembly follows suit by passing a "strong resolution" condemning the Iranian leaders.