In a sharply worded letter to Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of defense, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana takes issue with Hagel's past statement that “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here…. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.” Hagel made that statement in a 2006 interview.
" I am concerned by the way you attempt to explain your much-reported comments regarding a 'Jewish lobby' and your oath to the United States Constitution rather than to Israel," writes Vitter. "As a non-Jewish Senator who strongly supports the State of Israel, let me assure you that my support is rooted in the shared values of our two democracies. Let me further assure you that as a supporter of Israel who took the oath of office, I am offended by the suggestion that my support of Israel is somehow contrary to my Constitutional oath."
Vitter adds, "But more importantly, given the past weeks of back and forth, I do not believe you fully understand why your comments were so offensive to Jews and Gentiles alike. Your comments do not get any better if you merely substitute 'Israel lobby' for 'Jewish lobby.' Your statements clearly suggested the existence of a Jewish or Israel lobby that 'intimidates' American leaders into supporting a foreign government's interests over our own. Whether they were intentional or not, your public comments echoed centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of influence in government and dual loyalty. Therefore, I urge you to publicly apologize for the totality of your comments."
The letter addresses a number of other concerns expressed by Vitter and numerous other U.S. senators, including Iran, Hezbollah, and Israel.