Chuck Hagel, the former Republican Senator from Nebraska widely expected to be nominated today as Secretary of Defense, said in 2006 that the U.S. relationship with Israel should not take priority over American alliances with Arab countries.
The speech on the Senate floor came at the height of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, and perhaps best exemplifies why Hagel the pro-Israel community has so adamantly opposed his nomination. In his speech, Hagel said that U.S. policy toward Israel should not become one-sided, and that Israel action against Lebanon deepens Arab hatred toward Israel.
“Our relationship with Israel is a special and historic one, but it need not, and can not be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice,” Hagel said in the foor speech.
“The United States and Israel must understand that it is not in their long term interested to allow themselves to become isolated in the Middle East and the world. Neither can allow themselves to drift into an us against the world global optic, or zero sum game,” Hage continued. “That would marginalize America’s global leadership, our trust, and influence. Further isolating Israel and it would prove disastrous for both countries as well as the region.”
“It is in Israel’s interest as much as ours that the United States be seen by all states in the Middle East as fair. This is the currency of trust.”
Hagel then said military action alone could not lead to the defeat of Hezbollah or Hamas.
“Military action alone will not destroy Hezbollah or Hamas. Extended military action is tearing Lebanon apart, killing innocent civilians, devastating its economy and infrastructure.”
Hagel added that extended Israel military action against Lebanon “deepening hatred of Israel’s postion across the Middle East.