Another Missing Hagel Speech: Keynote Address to the U.S. Middle East Project Jan. 2008
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who awaits a vote this week on his confirmation as Secretary of Defense, had failed to provide the Senate Armed Services Committee with more than a few speeches dating to January 2008. Since then, at least two missing speeches within that timeframe have been identified: one to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, for which a video was eventually found, and the other to Georgetown University, of which no text or recording has been provided.
Now a third speech has surfaced: an address by Hagel to the U.S. Middle East Project (USMEP), which advocates aggressive U.S. pressure in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Hagel delivered the keynote address to the Annual Meeting of the International Board of USMEP. Photographs of the event were published on the group's website, including the one above (with Brent Scowcroft, former adviser to President George H.W. Bush, seated next to Hagel) but no video or text of Hagel's speech was published.
In 2009, Hagel co-authored a USMEP report that called for U.S. troops to be deployed to Israel and Palestine in the future to patrol the boundaries of the new Palestinian state. The report also indicated that peace could be "imposed" from the outside, and that it should be pursued regardless of "certain domestic constituencies." Hagel serves on the board of USMEP with a variety of individuals with a strong interest in Middle East diplomacy.
The president of USMEP, Henry Siegman, is known for making radical and inflammatory statements. He attacked Sen. Lindsey Graham for questioning Hagel about the former Senator's comments on the "Jewish lobby" (Siegman sanitized Hagel's remark as "Israel lobby"). In January 2010, Siegman wrote: "Israel has crossed the threshold from the Middle East’s only democracy to the only 'apartheid regime' in the Western world. Hagel has been alleged of using the same analogy to predict Israel's future if a peace agreement is not reached.