Hagel reportedly said that Israel is headed toward apartheid

Alana Goodman at the Washington Free Beacon reports that Chuck Hagel said Israel is on its way to becoming an apartheid state, according to a contemporaneous account of an appearance by Hagel at Rutgers University on April 9, 2010. Hagel also accused Israel of violating U.N. resolutions, called for U.S.-designated terrorist organization Hamas to be included in any peace negotiations, and described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “radical,” according to the the same account.

The account comes from Kenneth Wagner, who attended the 2010 speech while a Rutgers University law student. He provided the Washington Free Beacon with an email he sent during the event to a contact at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The email is time-stamped April 9, 2010, at 11:37 AM.

Wagner wrote:

I am sitting in a lecture by Chuck Hagel at Rutgers. He basically said that Israel has violated every UN resolution since 1967, that Israel has violated its agreements with the quartet, that it was risking becoming an apartheid state if it didn’t allow the Palestinians to form a state. He said that the settlements were getting close to the point where a contiguous Palestinian state would be impossible.

He said that he [thought] that Netanyahu was a radical and that even [former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi] Livni, who was hard nosed thought he was too radical and so wouldn’t join in a coalition [government] with him. … He said that Hamas has to be brought in to any peace negotiation.

Wagner is a pro-Israel activist. But there is no reason to believe that he would misrepresent Hagel’s statement in a contemporaneous account. To do so would be to rosl destroying his credibility with AIPAC, and for no reason — Hagel wasn’t in the picture at that time as a potential nominee.

Moreover, Hagel’s similarly egregious comments in an earlier speech at Rutgers were reported by a Hagel supporter with no sympathy for Israel. Did this source also make up his contemporaneous account? I don’t think so.

Finally, Hagel’s comments, as reported by Wagner are part of the standard talking points one hears these days in anti-Israel circles, such as those in which Hagel travels. It would be shocking if Hagel didn’t believe that Israel is headed for apartheid (never mind the rights accorded Israeli Arabs); that Netanyahu is a radical (never mind that elections have shown him to be well within the mainstream of Israeli politics); and that Hamas must be invited to “peace” talks (never mind that Hamas is a terrorist organization that opposes peace talks). And given Hagel’s self-image as an independent thinker unafraid to speak his mind (he’s not “the Senator from Israel”), it is not surprising that Hagel publicly articulated his “iconoclastic” views.

What happens now? If the past is prologue, things will unfold as follows. First, the three stooges (Sens. McCain, Graham, and Ayotte) will demand an explanation. Then, Hagel will say he doesn’t recall ever making such statements and does not believe their content — in other words Hagel will lie. Finally, McCain and Graham will reiterate their opposition to Hagel, but add that the president is entitled to great deference and that, accordingly, they will not filibuster this nomination.

I fear that only the emergence of something like an official transcript of Hagel’s remarks will derail Hagel, and only because it would show him to be a liar. Yet the contemporaneous notes of at least two individuals, coupled with the statements Hagel has admitted making and had to disavow, leave no doubt as to Hagel’s real views.

If 55 Senate Democrats want to look the other way, that’s to be expected — they are pro-Obama partisans. But for McCain, Graham and other Republicans to continue to play the fool on behalf of Obama and Hagel would be disgraceful.

Responses