Obama appoints anti-Israel senator to head intel team

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Israelis were given yet another reason to view US President Barack Obama with suspicion last week when he appointed former senator Chuck Hagel as the new head of his Intelligence Advisory Board.

Hagel has long rubbed Israel and its supporters the wrong way, and last month he reiterated his antagonistic positions when addressing the liberal Jewish lobby group J-Street. Hagel told his audience that meeting Arab demands for a Palestinian state on ancient Jewish lands is "is central, not peripheral, to U.S. vital security interests in combating terrorism."

Israel has for years been trying to impress upon Washington to not play into the terrorists hands by allowing them to define Israel's existence as justification for their actions.

Hagel also said that while the US may have a special relationship with Israel, the Middle East's only true democracy, it "must not come at the expense of our Arab relationships."

Hagel's remarks came as no surprise to those who followed his actions as a senator in recent years.

Hagel strongly criticized former President George W. Bush during his first term for refusing to meet with Yasser Arafat, while at the same time questioning the loyalty of American Jews who pushed for the US to back Israel against its enemies.

Later, Hagel refused to join an effort to convince the European Union to declare Hizballah a terrorist organization, and was one of only four senators to not sign a declaration backing Israel at the outset of the second Palestinian intifada, better known as the "Oslo War."

Israel observers are concerned that the same man will now play such a central role in shaping intelligence information before it reaches Obama, and thereby exercise tremendous influence over the president's foreign policy decisions.

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