|Schumer : "I told him [Hagel] what a double standard is. That Jewish people throughout the centuries have suffered a double standard."|
By: Maggie Haberman
February 20, 2013 11:39 AM EST New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that Chuck Hagel “almost had tears in his eyes” as he explained to the former Nebraska senator that the expression “Jewish lobby” is rooted in a negative depiction of Jews.
Schumer made the remarks about President Barack Obama’s pick for defense secretary at a breakfast in lower Manhattan hosted by the Association for a Better New York and the Downtown Alliance.
“Look, I had doubts about Sen. Hagel when his name was first floated, and I expressed those publicly on ‘Meet The Press’ and other places,” Schumer said. “And the president called me and said, ‘Before you come out with any decision, please sit down and talk to him.’ That was only fair.”
Schumer said he spent 90 minutes asking Hagel questions — including about a “nuclear Iran” — and “he answered them very well.”
“He struck me as sincere, and you know, you have to be sitting there at the meeting obviously, but I also told him when he used the word Jewish lobby what it meant to Jewish people,” he added.
“And I told him what a double standard is. That Jewish people throughout the centuries have suffered a double standard. Everyone could be a farmer except Jewish people. Everyone could live in Moscow except Jewish people. I said when everyone else can lobby but all of a sudden when those of us who are pro-Israel lobby, it’s a negative, that’s a double standard. And I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but it harkens to the old days.
“And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.”
Schumer noted that there is “not a major Jewish organization against” Hagel.
“The main fight on Hagel is coming from the neocons, who you know well. And they resent Hagel’s apostasy on Iraq. You may remember — the neocons helped push Iraq — and Hagel was one of the first Republicans to say Iraq wasn’t working. And he was right. But that’s where it’s coming from.
“So I have no qualms about my position,” Schumer added. “And as you can see now, Sens. McCain and Graham and Alexander have said they may not vote for him, but they’ll let the vote come forward.”
It’s one of the most explicit accounts of his meeting with Hagel that Schumer has given to date.