WASHINGTON – Christians United for Israel (CUFI) published a full-page ad in six West Virginia newspapers this week asking state residents to urge Senator Joe Manchin to oppose the nomination of Colin Kahl to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy.
“Kahl’s hostility towards Israel is beyond unconventional,” the ad reads, in an op-ed from CUFI’s West Virginia State Director Pastor Doug Joseph. “It’s outlandish. While serving in the Obama administration, he led an effort to strip recognition of Israel’s true capital of Jerusalem from the Democratic Party’s platform. Around the same time, Kahl argued in The Washington Post that Israel’s daring 1981 operation to destroy Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor was a failure, despite its actual real-world success, and came dangerously close to pinning Saddam’s subsequent behavior on Israel.”
A centrist Democrat, Manchin is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has yet to schedule a vote on Kahl’s confirmation.
Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of CUFI, told The Jerusalem Post that the original action alert concerning the Kahl nomination focused on all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“However, in looking at the foreign policy approach of the members of the committee, it is clear to us that Senator Manchin is the most likely swing vote,” he said. “Manchin opposed the Iran nuclear accord and hails from a state where support for Israel is extremely strong. We believe that Senator Manchin’s approach to the Middle East has reflected his constituents’ values, and therefore we wanted to ensure he heard from his constituents on the Kahl nomination.”
Hagee said that “Colin Kahl’s default position seems to be to appease Iran,” and that “his attitude towards Israel reflects a deeply misguided worldview. Kahl backed the Iran nuclear accord, has close ties to pro-Iran groups in Washington, and has expressed his belief that Iran has a right to enrich uranium. Kahl once worked to remove recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from the Democratic party platform, worked to advance an anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council, and has even gone so far as to criticize Israel’s decision to attack Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.”
On Thursday, a group of 50 public figures sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee members, urging them to support Kahl’s nomination. Former Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spearheaded the letter, together with other former Ambassadors such as Martin Indyk and Dan Kurtzer. Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, and General John Allen have signed the letter as well.
“Just as we are confident that Dr. Kahl is committed to the U.S.-Israel relationship, we also know he has never wavered in his effort to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” they wrote.
“Dr. Kahl is one of the leading national security practitioners in the country, who has demonstrated an expert understanding of the Iranian threat,” the letter reads. “He is committed first and foremost to furthering America’s national security interests in the Middle East, which includes thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nefarious regional activities and aggression, proliferation of ballistic missiles, and human rights violations, while ensuring the security of our allies and partners, especially Israel.”
Halie Soifer, CEO for the Jewish Democratic Council for America also signed the letter. She told the Jerusalem Post that "Colin Kahl has never wavered in his support of the US-Israel security relationship or efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.”
She went on to say that “The allegations against Colin have no basis in truth, as evidenced by his record, testimony, and the strong support he's received from a bipartisan group of pro-Israel, national security, and Jewish leaders urging the Senate Armed Services Committee to approve his confirmation."