New York Senator Chuck Schumer said on Friday that during his meeting with Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense nominee had convinced him that his views on Israel and Iran had changed over the last few years.
“Well look, as is clear, I had my doubts about Chuck Hagel and in fact made them public on the meet the press show,” Schumer said on Nachum Segal’s morning radio show. “That was before he was nominated.”
“The president asked me to meet with [Hagel] before I made any decisions, that was only fair,” Schumer told the Orthodox Jewish radio host, who has been a leading local critic of his support for the former Republican senator.
“I asked him many many probing questions,” Schumer said, about Iran, Israel, the Palestinians, Hamas, and Hezbollah. “His answers were not pat, were not check-the-box.”
“He was sincere,” Schumer said. “He basically said look, the bottom line is the world has changed since 2005, 6, 7. Iran is far more dangerous and far more militant than it was then, everyone would agree with that. He said Hamas and Hezbollah are closer to Iran and more militant and worse.” ”
Hagel, Schumer said, had “convinced me that he had changed his views.”
Schumer said Hagel “satisfied my concerns,” but “I’ll be watching him like an eagle.”
The senator pled ignorance of a report from earlier this week that President Obama had been privately saying that Israel “doesn’t know what its best interests are.”
“I don’t know which instance you’re referring to,” Schumer said. “I’m not familiar with that statement, I’ve been busy with other things.”
“When I disagree with [Obama] I make it public,” Schumer said. “I think I’m basically the only major Jewish official, or any official, that has disputed their view of Israel and Palestine, in other words, whatever you think of settlements, whatever you think of borders, the reason there’s no peace is because the Palestinians don’t want a Jewish state.”