Viscount Samuel, Meet Secretary Hagel


Sir Herbert Samuel.

Reprinted from

Emerging from intense controversy, the British politician Herbert Samuel (1870-1963) was appointed the first High Commissioner of Palestine, where he served 1920-25. A Jew and an influential Zionist, Samuel bent over backwards not to favor the Yishuv, to the point that he forwarded the interests of the Palestinians most hostile to the Jewish presence. Most notoriously, Samuel appointed Amin al-Husseini as mufti of Palestine, a position which Husseini used to become the most powerful figure in the mandate and the Palestinian who did the most-ever damage to Zionism (yes, even more so than his nephew Yasir Arafat).

This century-old history comes to mind in watching the first months in office of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. During his confirmation hearings, Hagel denounced many of his prior statements about Israel and Iran and then, as I have noted elsewhere, he chose to have his first face-to-face meeting in March with a foreign counterpart with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Despite major cuts to the American defense budget, Hagel promised in his meeting with Barak his intent to ensure continued funding for the Iron Dome and Arrow missile defense systems. Pentagon press secretary George Little explained that “during the meeting, Hagel expressed his strong commitment to Israel’s security, including maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and continued U.S. support for missile and rocket defense systems in spite of fiscal constraints.” Little also reported Hagel’s saying that he and Barak have had an outstanding working relationship.

Hagel also had warm words for Israel: “I appreciate the strategic relationship between our two nations and look forward to strengthening cooperation between the two defense establishments.”

Hagel has now gone to Israel – his first visit to a foreign country other than Afghanistan, where he focused on U.S. troops – and met with the leadership. He both did things and said things that please Israel. Here is the New York Times account, “Hagel, in Israel, Presses U.S. Agenda on Deterring Iran“:

Mr. Hagel, who was subject to intense, even hostile scrutiny during his confirmation process over whether he was sufficiently supportive of Israel, hailed the “very special relationship” between the United States and Israel. He also repeatedly emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself “in a very dangerous, combustible region of the world.” …

Mr. Hagel acknowledged that there might be “minor” differences between the United States and Israel on the timeline in which Iran might develop nuclear weapons. “I think it’s important that we all keep our eye focused on the objective,” he said. “And there is no daylight there at all — that Iran is prevented from acquiring that nuclear capacity.” …

During his travels, Mr. Hagel will be pushing forward with a $10 billion arms package intended to further increase Israel’s military edge over other powers in the region while also bolstering the armed forces of two important Persian Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Included in the weapons deal for Israel are tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft, which can be used for transporting troops and patrolling borders and nearby seas, as well as advanced radars for Israeli warplanes. …

And two systems to be sold to Israel — a new generation of aerial refueling tankers and advanced missiles that home in on radar signals to destroy air-defense sites — would be important in any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr. Hagel said the weapons sales served as “another very clear signal to Iran.”

Here is Hagel’s statement before a meeting with Netanyahu (I bolded some words that bear special attention):


Binyamin Netanyahu and Chuck Hagel, best of friends.

I’ve always appreciate this country, the people, the leadership and the courage that you represent and what has been produced in Israel. It is a model for the world, and the relationship between our two countries, just as you have noted, is as strong as it’s ever been, not only measured by the military-to-military, all the other metrics that apply to relationships, but as you also noted, Prime Minister, it is based on common values and respect for others, and that is the foundation of any relationship. …

This is a time when friends and allies must remain close, closer than ever. I’m committed to continue to strengthen this relationship, secure this relationship, and as you know, one of the main reasons I’m here is to do that. … I was able to take a long tour up in the north and the eastern borders here, and once again it reminds me of the dangers and difficulties and challenges. But I believe together, working with our allies and our friends, we will be able to do what is right for your country, my country, and make this region a better region and a more secure region, and make Israel more secure.

Hagel then answered press questions and became buddies with the IDF. Israel Hayom reports:

On Monday, Hagel was asked whether he believed it would be advisable for Israel to attack Iran on its own. “That calculation has to be made by Israel,” he replied after noting, “Israel is a sovereign nation; every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself.” Hagel did not mention a concern that U.S. officials have voiced in the past—that an Israeli strike would run the risk of igniting a wider war that could draw in the U.S.

Hagel wrapped up his three-day trip to Israel by visiting a special forces unit that trains military dogs to find hidden explosives and weapons. He mingled with the soldiers and watched a brief demonstration of the dogs’ skills.

We’re likely to hear more friendly words for Israel when Hagel addresses the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy on May 9 in a speech titled “U.S. Defense Policy in the Middle East.” (Historically, American politicians make pro-Israel pronouncements before pro-Israel organizations.)


Comments: (1) Henry Kissinger also fit the Samuel pattern, leaning more against Israel to offset perceptions of him as pro-Israel. (2) As the Samuel and Hagel trajectories suggest, politics is an ironic business. (3) Sometimes one is better off when an opponent feels compelled to prove his bona fides. (April 25, 2013)

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  • objectivefactsmatter

    "(3) Sometimes one is better off when an opponent feels compelled to prove his bona fides."

    That's what I was thinking during the confirmation process. It was very useful for the future of Western civilization to put him through that.

    It's still possible for things to get ugly, but I think we're wise to keep up the pressure at every opportunity to oppose the 0'Bama agenda, which is clearly against the interests of the USA.

    • truebearing

      I have some other things I'd like to see Hagel put through, like waterboarding.

  • truebearing

    Obama has always shown a great fondness for speaking with a forked tongue. Think of Hagel as one fork and Kerry as the other when it comes to Israel. Hagel blathers affably about our support of Israel, while Kerry demands that homicidal Palestinian terrorists be released from Israeli prisons as a condition of peace talks. Hagel is a thrall, a puppet, and not a very smart one. His words are as empty as his head.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Think of Hagel as one fork and Kerry as the other when it comes to Israel."

      That's the other side of the coin: He's still useful for playing the role of "good cop" so that 0'Bama can use Kerry for the dirty work and still try to sound like he's "just like Bush" on Israel.

  • AdinaK

    I have much less confidence than Daniel in Hagel's volte face. In fact, think of a serpent's tooth and you come closer to the truth. As such, I will stick to my initial assessment of his appointment, but would like to be proven wrong…syrupy words don't count –

    Past is, more often than not, prologue.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel

  • Olive Tree

    Mark my words. Hagel and Obama are playing ‘nice guy’ out front so that they can get away with the next step which will be to try to force Israel to make destructive concessions in their ‘Peace Process’ talks that they will force down Israel’s throat. Obama administration is not Israel’s friend no matter what comes out of their collective mouths.

    • Bert

      From the beginning American administrations have put on a friendly face towards Israel because most Americans and most of Congress is pro-Israel. However behind the scenes the Administrations, the
      State Department, the intelligence community plus assorted officials were betraying and undermining Israel at every turn. Roosevelt was also good at this game of pretense. While Truman recognized Israel his Secretary of State Marshall in 1947 opposed all support for Israel and ordered an arms embargo on the Middle East which only affected Israel. This policy of duplicity continues even more so under Obama. See Caroline Glick's latest article

  • Elliott Alhadeff

    What has become indisputable with this administration is its incompetence and stupidity. The only dependable reality of the administration's operations is that it has no knowledge either of history or of cultural morality. Therefore, it is totally reactionary to whatever happens, it is never anticipatory of what is likely because it has no understanding of the realities of the region. For example, Kerry didn't propose to have prisoners released – he conveyed that message given to him by Abbas without any understanding of the underlying realities of his message. Notice, there is no quid pro quo for Israel's concession – Abbas does not say that he will do anything in exchange if the prisoners are released. We can only hope Israel and the rest of the free world will survive this administration's ignorance, stupidity and incompetence.

  • Moishe Pupick

    F., 04/26/13

    Israeli Jews– Don't trust Hagel! His name is likely embedded in the Torah codes.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    Hagel's record has long revealed a deep-seeded hatred of Israel far beyond the norm for ordinary run-of-the-mill Israel critics.

    Two career politicians were all but certain to be nominated for top cabinet posts within the Jew hating Obama administration — John Kerry for secretary of state and Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense.

    "Those Who Bless Her (Israel) Will Be Blessed,
    And Those Who Curse Her Will Be Cursed "

    (Genesis 12:2-3)


  • Cynic

    Herbert Samuels proved to be very bad for the Jews of Europe as those he promoted became the key to closing the door to escape from Hitler.
    Kissinger, proven with hindsight, whatever the excuse, that he did not really understand the Levantine culture.
    US foreign policy has got it wrong many times but only Eisenhower came to admit, after his term, that he was wrong on Suez.

    • κατεργάζομαι

      Replying to Cynic – Good post.
      The modern state of Israel has always been on the receiving end of pressure from its closest ally and various anti-Israel State Department-ees: Kissinger, James Baker, or, Rice are no exceptions.

      Even before Israel had declared its independence in 1948, President Truman and Secretary of State George Marshall pressured her to renounce independent nationhood and submit to a United Nations trusteeship.

      ACTUALLY, in 1957, President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State Dulles forced Israel to withdraw from the Sinai desert, which it had occupied in order to stop incessant terrorist attacks and an Egyptian blockade of its shipping, so, …in return for an American promise to keep the vital Straight of Tiran waterway open to Israeli ships.

      President Ronald Reagan and his advisors (Ms Rice a Replaaaccement Theologies continually worked behind the scene to under-cut Israel!) mounted enormous pressure on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 1983.

      American Thinker article may interest you: Pressuring Israel by Rachel Neuwirth 7/04

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