Aaron David Miller is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. He served as a Middle East analyst, adviser and negotiator for Republican and Democratic secretaries of state from 1980 to 2003.
1. Chuck Hagel is anti-Israel.
In 2006, I interviewed then-Sen. Hagel for a book I was writing on U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli negotiations. Quotes from that interview, such as his comment that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” have been used by his detractors to argue that he is hostile toward Israel.
By congressional standards, Hagel is quite independent on Israel. He believes in a special U.S.-Israel relationship but not one in which the United States accepts Israeli actions uncritically. And he isn’t as emotionally connected to Israel as some of his former colleagues in Congress — such as Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) or Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) — are. But in our interview, his writings and his voting record on military aid to Israel, Hagel has been clear that Israel is a small, democratic ally in a dangerous neighborhood worthy of support.