February 19, 2013

The conservative Free Beacon, which first reported on Chuck Hagel’s purported 2007 remark calling the State Department an “adjunct” of Israel, has a new report from a 2010 appearance:

Secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel said Israel is on its way to becoming an apartheid state during an April 9, 2010, appearance at Rutgers University, according to a contemporaneous account by an attendee.

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 source.

Kenneth Wagner, who attended the 2010 speech while a Rutgers University law student, 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.

“I am sitting in a lecture by Chuck Hagel at Rutgers,” Wagner wrote in the email. “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 wrote.

Chuck Hagel (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Chuck Hagel (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Meanwhile, the blogger who recorded Hagel’s 2007 remarks reiterates to the Free Beacon that these were Hagel’s words: “I did my best to record things accurately … there’s no way that I would pick a phrase like ‘adjunct of the Israeli foreign ministry.’ That’s a pretty odd combination of words to use. I wouldn’t have just pulled those out of thin air.”

Keep in mind that both of these accounts were memorialized contemporaneously, long before Hagel’s name was on the radar screen for defense secretary.

Certainly, none these reports surfaced at the time Senate Democrats bought into the Hagel nomination. Does this fundamentally shift the playing field? Requests for comment from Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)  and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were not answered. But how can these ostensibly pro-Israel Democrats vote for Hagel now that they know of repeated instances of this sort of Israel hate speech? At the very least they should demand he return for further questioning under oath.

UPDATE: The first call from a pro-Israel group to pull the Hagel nomination is Christians United for Israel. Its executive director, David Brog, tells me, “Enough is enough. The administration can no longer claim ignorance of this nominee’s disdain for Israel and blindness towards Iran. For the sake of our nation President Obama must pull this nomination.” It remains to be seen if other groups that have begun losing patience with Hagel and the White House will follow suit.

UPDATE II: Now House Foreign Committee chairman Rep.. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) tells me he’s had enough of Hagel: “The long list of policy concerns that have arisen makes it impossible for me to see how Senator Hagel is the right pick for one of the most important and demanding positions at this very challenging time.” 

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.