More controversy regarding Barack Obama and his policies on Jewish-related issues has bubbled up and, perhaps, simmered down in the past few days. According to the JTA, the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement yesterday (which has since been removed from their website) condemning what they saw as Sen. Chuck Hagel’s accompanying Obama on his upcoming trip to the Middle East. The RJC demanded Obama drop Hagel from the trip.
Hagel is a controversial figure in the Jewish community for a number of reasons. Mostly, though, he is seen as less than totally supportive of Israel. Last year, the National Democratic Jewish Council created a list of some of his most unpopular actions regarding the Middle East; in January of this year, Haaretz saw Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s associations with Hagel as a detriment to his potential run at the presidency.
The RJC’s announcement created a controversy because, as Shmuel Rosner pointed out, even though Hagel is joining Obama in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is not accompanying the democratic presidential candidate to Israel.
Hagel is not coming to Israel, and is only going with Obama to Iraq as part of a congressional delegation. Thus, demanding that Obama disinvite Hagel from the Israel trip – that’s essentially what the RJC wanted – is irrelevant.
Earlier today, the RJC released a statement retracting their previous statement’s demand for Hagel to be uninvited from Obama’s trip without retracting their criticism of Obama’s reported connections to the Senator.