The new ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee has big problems with the potential nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the next defense secretary and believes Hagel has an "endemic hostility towards Israel."
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is only the latest lawmaker to expressed deep concerns about the prospect of Hagel joining President Barack Obama's second term cabinet. And as a member of the House, he won't get to vote, should Hagel be nominated.
But as the new leader of the House Democrats on foreign policy, his comments represent a strong rebuke to the president's reported consideration of Hagel to take over at the Pentagon.
In an interview Friday taped for C-SPAN's Newsmakers, conducted jointly by The Cable andPolitico, Engel said that Hagel's record on Israel and Iran make him a poor choice to lead the military. In particular, Engel said he was irked by Hagel's reference to the "Jewish lobby" in an interview with former official Aaron David Miller. (Miller supports Hagel's nomination.)
"I think that remark is troublesome, it's problematic. It shows at the very best a lack of sensitivity, at the very worst perhaps a prejudice. And I'm concerned about it, I'm concerned about the nomination," Engel said. "If I were doing the appointing, I would not appoint Chuck Hagel." ...
"It seems there is some kind of an endemic hostility towards Israel and that's troublesome to me and troublesome to a lot of people," Engel said. "In the sensitive post of secretary of defense, those are warning bells. Those are red lights."