01/11/2013 01:31 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2013

The Chuck Hagel Nomination: Fighting Back Smears With Schmears

Right-wing neoconservatives -- including Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Jennifer Rubin and many others -- are wasting no time in launching a swiftboat-reminiscent campaign to besmirch Hagel's reputation and derail his nomination.

One organization is fighting back in an interesting and innovative way.

J Street, "the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans," is inviting activists to "Smear a Bagel, Not Chuck Hagel."

J Street is calling on supporters to sign a petition to senators urging Hagel's confirmation by texting the word BAGEL to 69866. For every 18 texts sent, J Street will donate a bagel to a local food bank.

"Smearing cream cheese on a bagel is a grand Jewish tradition but so is the prohibition on bearing false witness," said J Street spokesman Alan Elsner. "Exodus, 23:1 tells us: 'You shall not spread a false report.'"

The bagels will be donated in honor of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who helped initiate the campaign against Hagel last month.

In an email introducing the new bagel campaign, President Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote: "We know the truth. Chuck Hagel is a dedicated public servant, a war hero, and an independent voice dedicated to our country. He's been a true friend of Israel, the Jewish people and an advocate for a negotiated two-state solution. That's why we're fighting back against the lies."

The petition reads:


I support President Obama's nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense and urge the Senate to confirm his nomination.

Legitimate questions should be asked during the confirmation hearings about his policy positions and prior statements, but I object to the personal smears and attacks on the Senator, which should have no place in the process."

There are many others supporting Hagel's nomination, including Israeli politicians and government officials.

For example, outgoing Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Jewish leaders in New York on Thursday:

"I know Hagel personally. When I was ambassador in Washington, we had many meetings. I cannot say that we agreed on everything, but he was a decent and fair interlocutor and you can reason with him. I think he believes in the relationship, in the natural partnership between Israel and the United States."

Addressing "an obviously skeptical crowd of American Jewish leaders," Ayalon added: "Once Hagel sits behind the desk in the Pentagon, I am sure he will be very impressed and proud of the volume of the defense relations between Israel and the U.S., which are so important for both countries," and "Hagel is a true American patriot, and the support that America gives Israel is in America's interest. So I am optimistic," according to Haaretz.

Ayalon also discussed a possible "long-term interim solution" to the Palestinian issue, the "fragmenting" of the Arab world and his view that "what happens in Syria does not stay in Syria," but "spills over to Lebanon and maybe even to Iraq." Adding, "Already today the Kurdish area of Iraq is completely autonomous -- they are exporting their oil directly overseas, and there are more direct flights to Kurdish areas than there are to Baghdad, European countries have their consulates there. This is the epitome of what we will see in the Middle East."

Read more here.