Senator Schumer weighs in on President Obama's choice for defense secretary

Posted at: 01/09/2013 5:45 PM
Updated at: 01/09/2013 6:00 PM
By: Ray Levato

A nomination battle is shaping up over President Obama's controversial choice for defense secretary, former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel. New York Senator Chuck Schumer weighed in on that Wednesday in Rochester.

News10NBC found out the Jewish people in Rochester and even in Israel itself are not “one opinion” about most things including Chuck Hagel's nomination to be defense secretary.

The comments with an Israeli commentator in 2006 have Hagel in hot water with many Israel supporters.
Chuck Hagel, Former U.S. Senator, said, "The political reality is the Jewish lobby (in the United States) intimidates a lot of people here and does some dumb things that aren't smart for Israel."

Hagel said he supports Israel but further irritated some by saying that he's not an Israeli senator. He's a United States senator. Senator Hagel has also been accused of being soft on Iran, criticizing talk of a possible military strike on Iran over developing a nuclear bomb.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D) New York, said, “Chuck Hagel has been a war hero who served his country. He's a colleague. I served with him.”

Senator Chuck Schumer was in Pittsford Wednesday to highlight New York products that are going to be served at the inauguration. But he was also asked about the controversy surrounding former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination for defense secretary. Sen. Schumer says he plans to keep an open mind for now.

Schumer said, “Before I make any determination, it's only fair to sit down and talk with him and ask him some very serious questions about his views on Iran, on the Middle East and on the military in general. And I'll be doing that in the next week or two before making a determination as to how to vote.”

Larry Fine is executive director of the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester.

Larry Fine, Executive Director, Jewish Community Federation, said, “Nobody really speaks for the Jewish community on this issue as with many others. There's a wide diversity of opinion. I believe we all think the President has the right and responsibility to appoint the best people he can identify for various high government positions. And we expect there will be a very robust discussion in the Senate about his appointment.”

News10NBC asked what he would like to hear Hagel say at his nomination hearings.

Fine said, “ I want to hear any Secretary of Defense explain how he's going to keep America safe, and help keep America's allies safe including Israel.”

Hagel is a republican and decorated Vietnam War veteran.

News10NBC contacted Rabbi Laurence Kotok at Temple B'Rith Kodesh and also the Jewish Community Center in Brighton. Neither had any comment at this time.