Wiesenthal Center blasts Chuck Hagel pick
A prominent Jewish rights organization called on Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel to apologize for his “hateful statements” on Israel that have drawn fire from similar groups that oppose him.
“We believe it sends the wrong signal, at the wrong time, to the Mullahs in Iran,” Simon Wiesenthal Center founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, said in a statement about the nomination. “It says to them, here is a man who understands us, here is a man that may tolerate a nuclear Iran.”
The Los Angeles-based group said it has “deep reservations” about Hagel’s appointment as “a critical adviser” with influence in the White House — particularly targeting Hagel’s comments about a “Jewish lobby” when referencing pro-Israel lawmakers and others in Washington, D.C.
“The very first thing that former Senator Hagel should do at his confirmation hearing is face up to his hateful statements, including the one about the ‘Jewish Lobby’ intimidating people, retract them, and apologize to those Americans that he has defamed,” Hier said.
In an interview with a Lincoln, Neb., newspaper, Hagel slammed the “distortions about my record” before his confirmation hearings and testimony.
“The distortions about my record have been astounding,” Hagel said. “The secretary of defense has the responsibility to give the president the best advice I can give him on national security issues. I will do that. I will give him my most honest advice.”