Another indication of Hagel’s early less-than-warm feelings toward Jews
came in the late 1980s when, as the president of the USO, he sought to
defund the popular USO facility in the Israeli port city of Haifa – a
favored destination for the sailors of the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet.
He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it’,” said Marsha Halteman, director for military and law enforcement programs at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which led the battle to keep USO Haifa operational.
Hagel’s campaign to close the storied USO port struck many observers, including the U.S. Navy and congressional leaders, as misguided. Those same critics argue today that Hagel’s animosity toward the Jewish state leaves him unsuited to be the nation’s next defense secretary.
“He essentially told us that if we wanted to keep the USO [in Haifa] open—and when I say ‘we’, he meant ‘the Jews’—he said the Jews could pay for it,” said Halteman, who recalled being taken aback by the comment.
“I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic,” she said. “He was playing into that dual loyalty thing.”
At the time the Haifa facility was one of the most popular USO facilities in the world, for example in 1989 the year Hagel was trying to close the facility:
more than 45,000 sailors attached to the U.S. Sixth Fleet visited the hilly Mediterranean city.
The sixth fleet and congress vehemently argued against the closure:
The backlash was so vociferous—including from the Navy and from Congress—that not only did the closing get reversed but [Hagel] had to expand the base,” said the source.
However, sources said Hagel refused to permit the USO, which was teetering on bankruptcy at the time, to fund fully the Haifa port.
“Chuck Hagel said the Haifa port is costing the U.S. too much [and] that if the Jews wanted one, the Jews should do the fundraising,” said one source involved in protecting the port’s funding.
A Jewish member of the USO’s board ultimately volunteered to secure funding for the port.
Only then did Hagel relent.
You notice, in all of the statements Hagel wasn’t talking about letting Israel fund it, or that it would foster Israel/US military cooperation, no Hagel was laying it all on the Jews. In his mind they are that nefarious group of rich Americans who control the US Congress (the banks and media too?). As a member of that nefarious group who isn’t rich, doesn’t even control his own household, and loves his country the United States very much; I suggest that a bigot/hater such as Hagel has no place in Government.