Is Chuck Schumer a Friend of Israel?

Now that President Obama has nominated a Senator Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary, we will see who the real friends of Israel are. Jews, particularly in New York State, are very interested in whether their Senator — Chuck Schumer — has the moxie to stand up against the Hagel nomination.

The litany of Hagel’s sympathy for the Palestinians, and his willingness to equate Israel’s moral position with those of the Hezbollah/Hams terrorists is there for all to see.

Hagel won the praise of Hezbollah in 2006, which said, “Except for Sen. Chuck Hagel, no one in Congress is willing to stand up to the Israeli Lobby.”

Invited to be the keynote speaker at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Hagel said Washington should cultivate “a deeper level of understanding of what’s at stake and of what the people — especially the Palestinian people — have endured over the last 50 or 100 years.”

After an outbreak of suicide/homicide bombings in Israel, Hagel made clear that he believes Israel was, in part, to blame by saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “essentially stopped the [peace] process.” Hagel has also said, “The Israeli government essentially continues to play games … What I fear more today is that desperate men do desperate things when you take hope away. And that’s where the Palestinians are today.”

Saying, “I’m not an Israeli Senator, I’m an American Senator,” Hagel complained in a recent interview that, “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here [in Washington].”

Hagel has opposed tough sanctions on Iran.

And, in October of 2000, he was one of only four Senators who refused to co-sign a letter to President Clinton expressing solidarity with Israel as it was subjected to the repeated terrorist attacks of a new Palestinian intifada. Indeed, Hagel also refused to sign a letter initiated by Senator Joe Biden, calling for a re-evaluation of relations with the Palestinian authority in light of the attacks.

Schumer holds the key to the Hagel nomination. Republicans will oppose his confirmation. If Schumer leads the way, other Democratic Senators from states with large Jewish populations — Nelson and Lautenberg (N.J.), Gillibrand (N.Y.), Nelson (Fla.) and Boxer and Feinstein (Calif.) will feel pressure to follow suit.

So what will it be Chuck? Stand up for Israel or cave in?

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