“It’s none of our business, it’s America’s prerogative,” said Naftali Bennett of the right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home) party, whose popularity has surged in recent weeks. “Israel and America’s bond goes way beyond certain relationships between individuals.”
Mr. Bennett's shrug comes despite the fact that Hagel’s record diverges sharply from Bennett’s views on Iran, which he identifies as the most pressing foreign policy issue facing Israel. While representing Nebraska in the Senate, Hagel voted repeatedly against US sanctions on Iran and has expressed opposition to a military strike on Iran – a country seen by some Israelis as an existential threat to the Jewish nation.
“Zionism was about creating a shelter, the most secure place on earth for Jews,” said Bennett, speaking at a foreign policy debate at Hebrew University of Jerusalem today. “By having a nuclear Iran, Israel by one fell swoop would turn into the most dangerous place for Jews.”
Obama has promised to prevent a nuclear Iran, but his appointment of Hagel signals to some that Obama may be more lenient than they feel comfortable with.
“[Hagel] is dangerous,” says Eliyahu Ben Haim, one of the few Jerusalemites out and about on a very stormy day. “He’s anti-Semite. He’s against attacking Iran, he’s against sanctions, and he wants us to talk to Hamas and Hezbollah.”