Speaking on a panel shortly before Biden’s address, Republican Sen. John McCain, a leading foe of Hagel’s, said, ‘‘we need members of the national security team who are pro-Israel, not anti-Israel.’’
Logan said she was so upset by the nomination of Hagel that she called the White House to complain. Frank Ponder of Los Angeles said he was reassured by Obama’s first-term team of Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
As for Kerry and Hagel, Ponder said both were ‘‘brand new’’ and he would wait and see.
Critical for Hagel’s success in winning Senate confirmation was the fact that AIPAC never publicly took a stand on the nomination.
Anna Etra, a Barnard College student from Los Angeles, said that was a ‘‘a very strategic move’’ by AIPAC which typically ‘‘reaches out to incumbents and those competing against them.’’
Days after the U.S. announced a substantial shift in policy in Syria to provide non-lethal aid directly to rebels battling President Bashar Assad, Biden reiterated that Assad must be ousted, but made clear that uncertainty about elements of the Syrian opposition is still keeping the U.S. from arming the rebels.
‘‘We are not signing up for one murderer’s gang replacing another in Damascus,’’ Biden said.
Biden expressed a similar degree of skepticism about Egypt, where U.S. hopes that Islamist President Mohammed Morsi could play a powerful leadership role in the Mideast were dampened after anti-Semitic remarks Morsi made in 2010 were publicized and political protesters have questioned his commitment to democracy.
‘‘We’re not looking at what’s happening in Egypt through rose-colored glasses,’’ Biden said. ‘‘Our eyes are wide open. We have no illusions about the challenges that we face, but we also know this: There’s no legitimate alternative at this point to engagement.’’
His comment came just one day after Kerry announced the release of $250 million in U.S. aid to Egypt.
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