B’nai Brith International, the oldest Jewish service organization in the world, has released a statement on President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to be Secretary of Defense, asking Senators “to carefully review Hagel’s record and hearing responses to determine his qualifications for the post.”
The organization draws attention to Hagel’s lenient approach to Hezbollah (“We are concerned that Hagel, unlike the vast majority of his Senate colleagues, underestimates the threat”) and Iran (“We are troubled that Hagel, during his confirmation hearings, undermined the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons”). B’nai Brith also questioned the sincerity of Hagel’s recent attempts to clarify his views on Israel:
In recent days, Hagel has disavowed, or said he didn’t remember, making certain past comments about Israel. At a 2007 speech he is said to have referred to the U.S. State Department as “an adjunct of the Israeli foreign minister’s office.”
Our hesitation on his nomination is based on our uneasiness with such updates to his record.
B’nai Brith was founded in New York in 1843, and will celebrate its 170th anniversary this year. It has members in over 50 countries, primarily in the United States. The organization is outspoken on civil rights issues and on support for the State of Israel, as well as active in community service and humanitarian aid worldwide.