Tuesday Jan 08, 201304:44 AM GMT
Hagel vows ‘total support for Israel’
Mon Jan 7, 2013 11:41PM
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In his first his interview after being nominated as the next U.S. secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel told his hometown paper, the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska that he will show an “unequivocal, total support for Israel.”


Former Nebraska senator’s pledge to totally support Israel comes as pro-Israeli U.S. lawmakers criticized him for not joining most of his Senate colleagues in signing on to a number of policy pronouncements that sometimes were sought by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).


Hagel dismissed the criticisms raised against him and maintained that there is "not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli, not one (Senate) vote that matters that hurt Israel."


At some point on Monday, President Obama announced his nomination of former GOP Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel for his next Secretary of Defense. Antiwar


Several groups and political leaders said Monday they would not formally oppose the choice, though some admitted to being lukewarm. Among them, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League, and former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who earlier said he opposed the choice. The Back Channel


 Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted that Hagel would be “the most antagonistic secretary of Defense” toward Israel in the U.S. history and called his pick by President Obama an “in-your-face nomination.” LA Times


In the Senate, Hagel initially voted to give the George W. Bush administration authority to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but later harshly criticized the conduct of both wars, irritating fellow Republicans and making him popular with Democrats critical of those wars. LA Times


Hagel also rankled many with comments he made in a 2006 interview with former State Department Mideast peace negotiator Aaron David Miller in which he said that the “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people" in Congress, in a reference to AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups. LA Times


Hagel drew particular fire for a quote from his 2008 book, wherein he said, "I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator." He added, "I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that." The Huffington Post


However, in his first interview as President Barack Obama's designated choice to be secretary of defense, the former Nebraska senator said critics have "completely distorted" his record. Journal Star


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