Hagel in newly surfaced comments: Israel keeps Palestinians 'caged up like animals'

Click photo to download. Caption: Chuck Hagel. Credit: U.S. Senate.(JNS.org) A decade-old newspaper article has surfaced in which former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's defense secretary nominee, states that Israel has kept Palestinians “chained down for many, many years.”

Hagel recently protested what he called a “completely distorted” interpretation of his previous comments on Israel in an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Lincoln Journal Star. There is “not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli, not one [Senate] vote that matters that hurt Israel,” he said.

But in the same newspaper in 2003, Hagel said Israel is “keep[ing] Palestinians caged up like animals,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Hagel had already come under fire for controversial comments on what he called the “Jewish lobby.” Democrats and Republicans alike have questioned whether he is truly committed to a military option for the Iranian nuclear threat and to broader U.S. support of Israel.

But in response to policy questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee in advance of his confirmation hearing Thursday, Hagel wrote the committee that he would “focus intently on ensuring the U.S. military” is prepared to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if that becomes necessary, Bloomberg News reported.

“I agree with the president that the United States should take no options off the table in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Hagel wrote.

Posted on January 30, 2013 .