Why the Israel Lobby Wants to Marginalize Chuck Hagel

The effort to marginalize Chuck Hagel for saying fairminded things about Israel/Palestine is really among the most hateful/disastrous aspects of the Israel lobby’s effect in this country. So let’s connect the dots.

Note that on the Haaretz panel that is trying to sideline Hagel, one of the “experts” is Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. who lives in Jerusalem. Note that, as I have reported before, Gold has pulled down $96,000 a year as a stealth “scholar” for the American Enterprise Institute. Note that Irving Moskowitz, a California doctor and backer of the American Enterprise Institute, was also a big supporter of the Netanyahu government. Note that Gold was part of that rightwing government, and note too (per the superb Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg in The End of Days, Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount) that Moskowitz was at Netanyahu’s side in 1998 when a group of rightwingers sledgehammered open a blocked tunnel in the Old City that leads south from the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall—a source of great consternation to Muslims. Moskowitz has also bankrolled religious settlers in Arab areas of East Jerusalem, in an effort to solidify the annexation of Jerusalem and frustrate Arab hopes for the city. Note that Richard Perle and David Wurmser, who came up with the “Clean Break” proposal for Netanyahu to turn his back on the Oslo peace process, went from AEI to the Bush Administration, where they helped plan the Iraq war.

The point here is the way in which supporters of Israel’s right wing come and go in Washington. The inner circle of Netanyahu’s zealots include several people who play a significant role in forming our policies in the Middle East. This little circle has an agenda they are not very straightforward about: defeat the peace process, create “more facts on the ground,” i.e., more structures of colonialism in the West Bank, and frustrate Palestinian and moderate Israelis’ hopes for an equitable solution. This interest played an important role in the Bush Administration’s ideas about Iraq: install “democratic” regimes across the Arab world—Syria was to be next—and we can forget about the Palestinian issue.

The question that must be asked is whether this extremist religious agenda is in America’s interest. And why it is, that when Chuck Hagel or any other fairthinking American politician challenges that agenda, we are informed that they’re stepping on a political third rail—in the U.S.A. no less?