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Deroy Murdock: Chuck Hagel's Jewish problem

February 25. 2013 5:38PM

"Let the Jews pay for it."

Are these words anti-Semitic?

The U.S. Senate (which is expected to vote on the matter this week and possibly as early as today - ed.) should consider this and many other disturbing statements by Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary. Nebraska's former Republican senator has said and done truly troubling things regarding Jews and Israel.

--When he ran the USO - the United Services Organization, a nonprofit that supports U.S. troops - from 1987 to 1990, Hagel tried to close its Haifa retreat. The facility was highly popular among U.S. sailors, 45,000 of whom visited the Israeli port in 1990, the Associated Press reports.

"Chuck Hagel said the Haifa port is costing the U.S. too much (and) that if the Jews wanted one, the Jews should do the fundraising," an unnamed supporter of the outpost told the Washington Free Beacon website.

"He said to me, 'Let the Jews pay for it'," recalled Marsha Halteman, of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which backed USO Haifa. "I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic," Halteman said. "He was playing into that dual-loyalty thing."

--Hagel alone abandoned Russia's Jews. As David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, told The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin: "We sought his support, in 1999, for a Senate letter to then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin urging action against rising anti-Semitism. We were unsuccessful. On June 20, 1999, we published the letter as a full-page ad in The New York Times with 99 Senate signatories. Only Sen. Hagel's name was absent."

--Hagel was one of only four senators who refused to sign a Senate letter supporting Israel during Yasser Arafat's terrorist intifada in 2000.

-- "The State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli foreign minister's office," Hagel reportedly remarked in a March 2007 Rutgers University speech.

"Like many other data points emerging since Hagel's nomination," John Podhoretz observed in a recent New York Post columnk, "this one emits a faint but distinct odor of a classic anti-Semitic stereotype - Jews as secret marionetteers, pulling the strings of unsuspecting Gentiles."

--"The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here" on Capitol Hill, Hagel told Aaron David Miller in 2008.

That year, Hagel praised Miller's book about the Middle East.

"If you want to read something that is very, very enlightening, this guy, he's getting tremendous reviews on it," Hagel said. "He's Jewish ... .I think he's worked for four secretaries of state, different Democrats, Republicans."

'"He's Jewish,'" wrote Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard. "Isn't there something creepy and disquieting about that interjection? ... Why does Hagel call attention to the religion of the American diplomat whose book he's praising?"

-- "I'm a United States senator," Hagel declared in 2008. "I'm not an Israeli senator."

"We believe that when Sen. Hagel said that he was not an 'Israeli senator,' that he was a U.S. senator, he strongly implied that some of his colleagues have a greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States," stated Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named after the late and legendary Nazi hunter. "That crosses the line."

-- Prominent Jewish Nebraskans have felt Hagel's cold shoulder.

"During his last year in office, we knew he was not going to run again, he never returned any of our calls," Jewish activist Gary Javitch told the Jewish newspaper Algemeiner's website on Dec. 21.

"He was not the most responsive politician in Nebraska to me personally at the Jewish Press and to the Jewish community as a whole," said Carol Katzman, the Omaha Jewish Press' former editor. Nebraska's representatives otherwise "were all very responsive ... if we were soliciting them for an interview or a greeting ad for Rosh Hashanah or Passover." However, "Hagel's office never even responded." Katzman concluded: "Hagel was the only one we have had in Nebraska who basically showed the Jewish community that he didn't give a damn about the Jewish community or any of our concerns."

Are these words anti-Semitic? Call your senators at 202-224-3121 and tell them what you think.

Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor and a media fellow with Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Email him at

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