The big winner of the fight over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense is not President Barack Obama, but Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Democrats have called Paul’s views on Israel “deeply disturbing” because he wants to end foreign aid to Israel (eventually). Yet they have forever lost the ability to lecture anyone about their views on Israel, least of all Paul, who has made a serious effort to understand Israel’s challenges.
Here is a partial list of the bizarre views on Israel that Democrats have proven willing to accept in a high official by backing Hagel to lead the Pentagon, apparently unanimously.
1. U.S. troops should be deployed to Israel and a new Palestinian state at the head of an international peacekeeping force.
2. The U.S. should negotiate with Hamas, a terror group devoted to Israel’s total destruction, and which rejects talks or peace with Israel.
3. The U.S. should impose a peace deal on Israel and the Palestinians, if necessary.
4. The U.S. should not pressure the European Union to add the Hezbollah terror group to its official list of terror organizations--i.e. Hezbollah should be allowed to continue to raise money and to organize activities in Europe.
5. Israel should not have defended itself against cross-border raids and terror rockets during the Second Lebanon War.
6. It is acceptable to refuse to express solidarity with Israel when it faces a brutal terror campaign consisting almost entirely of suicide attacks against civilians, in violation of all laws of war.
7. It is appropriate to urge dialogue with Hamas even in the midst of a war in which that organization is firing a barrage of deadly rockets at Israeli civilians.
8. It is acceptable to decline to endorse almost every pro-Israel letter circulated in Congress.
9. It is appropriate to characterize Israel’s future as “apartheid” if it does not make deep concessions as urgently as possible, despite the fact that Israel would have a sizable Jewish majority even including the West Bank.
10. Israel’s supporters in the U.S., known as the “Jewish lobby” (or, as Hagel put it in his confirmation hearing, the “Israeli lobby) exert undue influence on foreign policy that the government must resist or ignore.
11. It is inappropriate to apply sanctions, unilateral or multilateral, to Iran in order to encourage compliance with binding UN resolutions about its nuclear program.
12. The U.S. must engage the Iranian regime diplomatically, opening a U.S. consulate in Tehran if possible, even if the Iranian regime rejects negotiations.
13. The U.S. should not attack Iran, even if the Iranian regime launches an attack that threatens Israel.
14. While it is right to pressure Israel, it is wrong to pressure Arab states to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
15. It is acceptable to accept organizational funding from a known supporter of Hamas as well as from governments that refuse to recognize Israel, such as Saudi Arabia.
16. It is acceptable to be honored by an anti-Israel organization that named a scholarship after Helen Thomas even after she was exposed as an antisemite.
17. It is acceptable to distort essential facts of Israeli history, such as the substance of the Balfour Declaration, or the conduct of the Israeli military during the Second Lebanon War.
18. It is acceptable to describe the Israeli-Palestinian issue as the “core” of Middle East conflict.
19. It is acceptable to make politically convenient conversions on many of the above issues, even when those conversions fail serious examination by the Senate.
20. It is appropriate to mislead the Senate about recent speeches relevant to the issue.
In contrast, here is the entirety of the Democrats’ case against Rand Paul on Israel: that he opposes indefinite foreign aid; that he has challenged Israeli leaders to improve the living standards of Palestinians through trade; that he skipped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in 2011 over an unrelated procedural fight; and that he is related to Ron Paul, whose record on Israel was very poor.
That is all.
There may be Republicans who are better on the issue than Paul, but Hagel makes Paul look like a founding member of the Zionist Organization of America.
With the Hagel nomination, Obama and the Democrats have lowered the bar generally--not just for Paul, but for all future candidates. Of course, they will attempt to use a double standard on this issue, as in all others.
But Hagel’s record will make that difficult. They own him.