Chuck Hagel has come under fire for using the term “Jewish lobby” in 2006 to describe those activists who support Israel, with some claiming the remark proves anti-Semitism. But in 1990, the Defense Department under then-Secretary Dick Cheney published a pamphlet using that same term.
The “Troop Information Handbook” was issued by the Department of Defense and distributed by the U.S. Central Command to about 230,000 soldiers in Saudi Arabia in 1990, and it provided a list of instructions to avoid offending the Arab citizens in the region. Notably, many of the suggestions had to do with downplaying America’s relationship to Israel and Judaism.
Among the 25 “sensitive subjects” that “should be avoided or carefully handled,” according to the handbook:
- “Articles/stories showing U.S./Israeli ties/friendship.”
- “Sensual advertisements such as perfume ads, blue jean ads, women’s lingerie.”
- “Pictures of crucifix, Star of David, etc… .”
* “Discussion of the ‘Jewish Lobby’ and intelligence items given to Israel by U.S. government employees.”
- “Criticizing Islamic religious customs, media coverage and censorship, women’s rights and enforced dress and moral standards.”
The Defense Department said that the pamphlet was distributed to help U.S. soldiers be “good neighbors” while they were in the Middle East. And while it instructed soldiers to avoid discussing “the Jewish lobby,” it made no indication that the term itself was offensive.
“The pamphlet does not prohibit troops from discussing any topic, as long as security concerns are adhered to,” said Captain Sam Grizzle, a Pentagon spokesman in 1990.
At the time, Cheney defended the pamphlet against objections from Jewish groups who said it limited free speech.