Just as news has surfaced that President Obama may be reconsidering his controversial nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of Defense, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman advises us to “Give Chuck A Chance,” advocating for the former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to replace out-going Secretary Leon Panetta. ”I am a Hagel supporter,” Friedman wrote. “I think he would make a fine secretary of defense – precisely because some of his views are not ‘mainstream.’”
Friedman thinks it is “disgusting” that Hagel has been criticized for snidely labeling Israel’s many supporters in the United States as the “Jewish lobby.” Friedman also argues that just because Hagel has been unwilling to go along unswervingly with everything the Israeli government decides to do, including its expansion of settlements, it doesn’t mean that Hagel cannot still be a friend of Israel (albeit a friend with tough love).
No wonder Friedman did not have any trouble with Hagel’s “Jewish lobby” remark. Last year, in another of his columns, Friedman himself said that the only reason Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation during his address to a joint session of Congress was that the “ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” Friedman couldn’t conceive of the fact that maybe the ovation was in appreciation for the courageous leader of our closest ally in the Middle East, who is trying to preserve a modern day democracy in a neighborhood of regressive nihilists bent on his country’s destruction.