Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday the concerns of pro-Israel senators over comments made by defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel are mislaid, arguing that the “Jewish lobby” is a term that “slips out from time to time”:
GREGORY: You brought up Israel. He referred to a “Jewish lobby,” saying it intimidates a lot of people on Capitol Hill. What kind of thinking does that reflect? Can you understand pro-Israel senators being concerned by that comment?
POWELL: They shouldn’t be that concerned. That term slips out from time to time. There was an article this week that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz occasionally uses the same thing. Chuck should have said “Israeli lobby,” not “Jewish lobby”–and, perhaps, he needs to write on a blackboard a hundred times, “It is the Israeli lobby.” But there is an Israeli lobby. There are people who are very supportive of the state of Israel–I’m very supportive of the state of Israel, so is Sen. Hagel, and you’ll see that in the confirmation hearings–but it doesn’t mean you have to agree on every position the Israeli lobby takes.
During Hagel’s tenure as president and chief executive officer of the World USO, he led the campaign to close the USO port in the Israeli city of Haifa, telling a Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) official at the time, “Let the Jews pay for it.” Additional sources later confirmed to the Free Beacon Hagel’s role in attempting to close the port.
Gregory then challenged Powell on a series of votes and statements made by Hagel in the past about Israel and Mideast policies: