Chuck Hagel nomination: Anti-Semitism ‘preposterous,’ says CFR president

Appearing Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) President Richard Haass said that charges of anti-Semitism against secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel are “over the line” and “preposterous.” 

In part, Haass’ comments are directed at Elliott Abrams, a CFR senior fellow under Haass, who has been a leading figure against Hagel on charges that he is anti-Semitic. 

“I think he has a chance at his confirmation hearing to show that he is not what he appears to be, which is frankly an anti-Semite,” said Abrams in a recent NPR interview. “It’s not just being anti-Israel. He’s got a problem with what he calls ‘the Jews,’ the Jewish lobby. I think if he cannot satisfy people that he is not, in fact, bigoted against Jews, he certainly should not be confirmed.” 

“Where I think people are going over the line is with an hominem attacks, questioning for example whether he is an anti-Semite,” Haas said on Sunday. “I’ve known Chuck Hagel for more than 20 years. For what it’s worth, I think that’s proposterous.”

CFR was already distancing itself from Abrams’ remarks last week.

“The Council on Foreign Relations takes no institutional position on matters of policy,” CFR’s vice president for global communications and media relations Lisa Shields told Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen. “The views expressed by our more than seventy experts, who reflect a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives, are theirs only.”

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at governmentality.net and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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Allen McDuffee · January 14, 2013