Washington – Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks has expressed opposition to President Obama’s appointment of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

In a strongly worded statement issued by the RJC, Mr. Brooks writes that “Chuck Hagel’s troubling record on critical foreign policy issues makes this appointment a matter for serious concern. There has been bipartisan criticism of his positions on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his record on Iran has been very worrisome as well.”

Mr. Brooks view of Mr. Hagel’s record over the years is Mr. Hagel’s record reflects “a fundamental misunderstanding of the region and of the nature of the threats to U.S. interests in the region.”

Brooks says that “Hagel does not seem to understand that the U.S. and Israel are fighting a war against terrorists whose agenda is an existential threat to our free and democratic system.”

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Mr. Hagel wrote in a 2002 op-ed in the Washington Post that then-President George W. Bush erred in refusing to meet with Yasser Arafat and that Arafat and his support for terrorism against Israel were not the real issue. He wrote: “We cannot hold the Middle East peace process hostage by making Yasser Arafat the issue… Palestinian reformers cannot promote a democratic agenda for change while both the Israeli military occupation and settlement activity continue.”

Mr. Hagel’s record also includes some indications that he sees those who support a strong and safe Israel as having dual loyalties. In an interview quoted in Aaron David Miller’s book on the peace process called The Much Too Promised Land, Mr. Hagel said: “The political reality is that… the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.”

Mr. Hagel once described a meeting he had in New York with a group of supporters of Israel, one of whom suggested Mr. Hagel wasn’t supportive enough of Israel.

Mr. Hagel responded: “Let me clear something up here, if there’s any doubt in your mind. I’m a United States Senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is, I took an oath of office to the constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel.”

In terms of Mr. Hagel’s record on Iran, in October 2008, he prevented action on a Senate bill – sponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama – proposing economic sanctions against Iran. Mr. Hagel has argued that, “Whether we like it or not, there will be no peace or stability in the Middle East without Iran’s participation,” and opposed this kind of U.S. pressure on Iran.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.