Republican group using Hagel to turn Jews against Obama
by desmoinesdem, Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 02:36:06 AM EDT
Following up on Jonathan Singer's post about Barack Obama and the Jewish vote, and Josh Orton's post from last week about Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel joining Obama on an upcoming visit to Iraq, I wanted to let people know that the Republican Jewish Coalition is trying to use Hagel to drive a wedge between Obama and Jewish voters.
My 60-something Jewish cousin in Florida included me on a mass e-mail forwarding this press release from the RJC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Suzanne Kurtz
RJC: Obama Should Disinvite Hagel from Israel Trip
Washington, D.C. (July 14, 2008) -- Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks issued the followed statement today calling on Sen. Barack Obama to drop Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) from his upcoming trip to Israel:
"If Barack Obama is getting advice from Chuck Hagel about Israel, then the American Jewish community has a lot to worry about. Of all the senators with whom Obama could have traveled with, Hagel's record on Israel is one of the worst. Senator Obama should disinvite Senator Hagel from this trip," said Brooks. "The message to the Jewish community is heard loud and clear. Where Barack Obama has chosen to vis it Israel with one of the most anti-Israel senators, by contrast, on John McCain's most recent trip to Israel, he chose to visit with Joseph Lieberman."
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), cited clear examples of Sen. Hagel's abysimal [sic] record on Israel.
* In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
* In December 2005, Hagel was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.
* In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit.
* In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yassir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.
* In October 2000, Hagel was one of only four senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.
"Barack Obama continues to send every wrong signal to the Jewish community about who he is and where he stands on issues important to Israel. Since the RJC and the NJDC share similar concerns about Senator Hagel, we hope they will join us in calling on Obama to drop Hagel from the upcoming trip," said Brooks.
A few thoughts:
My cousin in Florida plans to vote for Obama (reluctantly) because of the Supreme Court, but he is very concerned about Obama's support for Israel. I suspect that issue will cause Obama to underperform the generic Democrat among older Jewish voters.
I hope Obama does not take this bait and get scared to align himself with Hagel on Iraq. Hagel is respected by the wise men who create DC conventional wisdom and is an important part of making the case that we can't trust John McCain to handle Iraq.
That said, I don't want Obama to elevate Hagel too much in his campaign. Democrats need to stop reinforcing the Republican talking point that only Republicans can handle foreign policy and national security. Also, Hagel is down-the-line conservative on most domestic issues.
For these reasons, I am adamantly against putting Hagel on the ticket or promising to give him a senior cabinet post. There are plenty of Democrats who are qualified to be secretary of state or secretary of defense.