After Meeting, Chuck Schumer Backs Hagel
Nominee 'regrets' comment on 'Jewish lobby'
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 15, 2013 11:04 AM CST
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, accompanied by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – Amid concerns over Chuck Hagel's past comments on "the Jewish lobby," leading Jewish Democrat Chuck Schumer had a 90-minute one-on-one with the Pentagon nominee, and emerged supporting his confirmation. Schumer came to the conclusion, despite "previous concerns," and applauded Hagel's support for "Israel's right to retaliate militarily in the face of terrorist attacks by Hezbollah or Hamas," as well as his readiness to "do 'whatever it takes' to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons."

As to his "unfortunate use of the term 'Jewish lobby' ... Senator Hagel understands the sensitivity around such a loaded term and regrets saying it," Schumer said, per CNN. Indeed, a letter from Hagel to Sen. Barbara Boxer released yesterday shows the nominee expressing "regret" for using the term, calling it a "poor choice of words," the Hill reports. "I used that terminology only once, in an interview," he wrote. "I recognize that this kind of language can be construed as anti­-Israel. I know the pro-­Israel lobby is comprised of both Jewish and non-Jewish Americans."