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Mr. Hagel and the Jews

12:00 AM, Jan 7, 2013 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
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“He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it.’ He essentially told us that if we wanted to keep the USO [in Haifa] open—and when I say ‘we,’ he meant ‘the Jews’—he said the Jews could pay for it. I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic.” 

That’s precisely what the Senate Armed Services Committee should be wondering, too. They ought to call as witnesses some of the Nebraska Jewish leaders who recall Hagel as a man hostile to their community and ask why they formed that conclusion. They ought to call those who attended the USO meeting where Hagel said, “Let the Jews pay for it,” and ask about his demeanor at that session. That the USO had budget problems is clear, but what other locations did Hagel seek to close? Did he ever suggest that the Japanese or Germans or Emiratis or Italians pay for a USO site? Did he ever suggest that Italian-Americans or Japanese-Americans pay for USO facilities overseas? Did he ever try, in good faith and without bigotry, to work with the American Jewish community and the government of Israel to see if, in fact, additional private support could be found for the immensely popular Haifa site—or did he just say, “Let the Jews pay for it,” with the hostility recalled by Nebraskan Jews?

Perhaps there are answers, and perhaps Mr. Hagel actually has no problem with “the Jews.” But one purpose of confirmation hearings should be to find out.

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