Joe Klein, Get Some Facts Straight

Joe Klein is a reporter for TIME magazine. This article is written as a response to his recent article, “Obama’s Next Foreign Policy Battle”, which can be found here,9171,2132765,00.html    Note that there will be quotes from His article and these quotes do not reflect my opinion.

 In a recent article for Time magazine, Joe Klein describes what he calls “The Hagel Fight”.  He uses this term to describe the opposition to former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination as President Barack Obama’s next Secretary of Defense. Klein claims that this controversy is foolish and is insignificant to Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense. He claims that this anti-Israel talk stems from one quote that Hagel said regarding Iran: “A military strike against Iran… is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.” Joe Klein, I am here to tell you that this is not what we, who believe that Hagel is not a candidate in Israel’s best interest, center our claims on.

First, let us deal with your article. You claim that our objections, not controversy, have come “at a rare moment of foreign policy consensus”. You then proceed to say that the Obama administration has said, “All options are on the table”. It is not a consensus when the potential Secretary of Defense is disagreeing with the current administration’s stance on the situation. In fact, there is no consensus of how to deal with the Iran nuclear situation within the Western Powers. Canada has done the most against Iran by closing their embassy in Iran and kicking out all Iranian diplomats from Canada itself. Israel, an ally of the United States, is afraid to let Iran have any form of Nuclear weapons because Iran is a known sponsor of terrorism. Thus, Israel is afraid of Iran supplying terrorist groups with nuclear arms.

In another part of your article, you address the issue of what you call Israel’s “illegal expansion into Palestinian Lands”.  Unlike the United States, who won their land in wars they started, Israel won all of its land in purely defensive wars. The Knesset and the Israeli Supreme Court goes to great length to investigate all claims that Palestinian Land was illegally taken to make Settlements. Recent incidents include the Migron incident that occurred in 2012, and the most recent incident regarding land known as E1, where the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that at least some of the disputed Settlement was built on land owned by Palestinians.  We do not see the United States Supreme Court ruling that the United States illegally seized land from the Native Americans. We do not see the United States repaying the Native Americans for their murdered ancestors and their stolen land. Yet, Joe, you criticize Israel, the one country that actually repays and repairs what they possibly did wrong.

Another point I must make on your article Joe. You claim that “AIPAC and many leaders of the American Jewish community don’t speak for the majority of the American Jews who voted for Obama.” Joe, how do you know what group represents your “silent majority”? How do you know that this “silent majority does not subscribe to AIPAC and its beliefs? Did you ask each Jew that voted for Obama? I voted for Obama and I am a supporter of AIPAC. And if there is a majority of Jews, why have they remained silent? In our past, we have never remained silent when we disagreed with a statement or action.

Lastly, you also claim that the “Unstated position of almost everybody who has looked at this problem… is that military action against Iran is a fool’s errand.” This is inaccurate. I have heard from members of the IDF that they are ready to do whatever is necessary. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even said that though he is not advocating for war, Israel would be ready to take military action if it would be deemed necessary. Also, how is it a fools errand to try and stop a radical government from obtaining nuclear power when we know it can very well fall into the hands of terrorists? It would be a fool’s errand not to try to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Now, let us deal with the anti-Israel claims of the opponents to Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense.  I partially agree with you insofar as claiming that Hagel is anti-Israel is using inflammatory language to describe the situation. The way I view it that Chuck Hagel is not the candidate for Secretary of Defense in Israel’s best interest. I base this on researching his record on signing or in fact not signing statements/letters regarding Israel and not just on one lone comment.  Actions speak louder than words.

 I agree that it is not a great idea to support or not support a candidate based on their views on Israel. This is the United States and not Israel, and though I love Israel with all of my heart and soul, the distinction must be made. Yet, I too do not support Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, not solely based on his Israel views. He is a Republican and Obama is trying to make it easier during his next term to reason with Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives. He could of chosen any other Cabinet position for this, but he chose a very important one were it would be more beneficial to have a democrat rather than a republican.


About the Author
Justin Goldstein is currently a second year MSW student at Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work.