March 12, 2021
News Press Release

ZOA Opposes Anti-Israel Iran-Appeaser Colin Kahl’s Confirmation as Undersecretary for Defense

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Chair Mark Levenson, Esq. released the following statement:

The ZOA strongly opposes the confirmation of nominee Colin Kahl for Undersecretary of Defense, due to Kahl’s extremely concerning record of advocating pro-Iranian regime positions; opposition to Iran sanctions; close relationships with Iranian regime promoters; involvement in negotiating the disastrous Iran deal; anti-Israel positions; disrespectful, incendiary hyper-partisan comments leveled against Senators Menendez and Romney and groups of Republicans; and propagation of antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Specifically:

  • Kahl reportedly co-drafted the infamous 2012 Democratic platform plank that attempted to delete support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  (See here and here and here.)
  • In August 2012, Kahl wrote a falsehood-filled op-ed in Foreign Policy entitled “Obama has Been Great for Israel.”  Kahl’s op-ed ludicrously praised Obama’s hostile-to-Israel policies (including pushing Israel back to the indefensible 1949 Armistice lines with swaps, acceding to a (terrorist) Palestinian state, and refusing to declare that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital) as “good for Israel.”  Kahl also condemned Romney for declaring that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
  • In addition, Kahl’s 2012 Foreign Policy op-ed falsely blamed conditions in the Palestinian Authority on “economically debilitating effects of Israeli occupation” – instead of properly blaming the PA leaders’ corruption, theft of billions of dollars of aid money, and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on “pay to slay” payments to murder Jews – instead of on building a thriving society.   
  • In the same 2012 op-ed, Kahl also wrongly claimed that Obama “defend[ed] Israel over the Gaza flotilla incident.”  In fact, Obama pressured Israel to make an unwarranted apology to Turkey, and to pay millions of dollars of “compensation” to the Turkish (IHH) terrorists on the Mavi Marmara flotilla who attacked Israeli weapons inspectors with knives and chains, and were killed when the Israeli inspectors defended themselves.  (Also see here.)
  • In his 2012 Foreign Policy op-ed, Kahl also claimed that the appropriate “red line” on Iran is “an Iranian move toward actual weaponization,” rather than the far more sensible “nuclear weapons capability.”  “Actual weaponization” is dangerously late, and almost impossible to pinpoint:  Once Iran has nuclear weapons capability, it can engage in actual weaponization at any time.  In addition, Kahl over-estimated the time frame for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon; and falsely gave Obama credit for Iran sanctions and Israeli defense funding that the Obama administration vociferously opposed.
  • As national security advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden, Kahl was part of the team that negotiated the disastrous 2015 Iran deal.  As the Washington Free Beacon reported, in the final days of the Obama administration, visitor logs show that Kahl — along with Ben Rhodes and Robert Malley — met more than 30 times with pro-Iran lobbyists, including Trita Parsi, the president of Iranian-regime front group, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).   
  • In 2013, Kahl spoke at NIAC’s annual leadership conference.  Kahl stated that that Obama administration has “the capacity to provide meaningful sanctions relief,” and merely suggested minimal, inadequate commitments on Iran’s part – namely, limiting enrichment to 5%; reducing uranium stockpiles; limiting numbers of centrifuges; and allowing IAEA inspectors into “certain” (not “all”) facilities.  This was around the same time that the Obama administration was publicly claiming that a deal needed to stop all enrichment.  
  • In 2017, Kahl wrote an op-ed (together with Iran apologist Robert Malley and anti-Israel Avril Hainescondemning the bipartisan Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).  This bipartisan Act sensibly called for sanctioning entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program and weapons proliferation activities, and for sanctioning the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (“IRGC”) for the IRGC’s terrorism activities and gross human rights violations.  
  • In addition to opposing these IRGC and Iran terror activities sanctions, Kahl’s and his co-authors’ op-ed also outright lied that Iran was in compliance with the Iran deal.  In fact, Iran violated the deal from day one, in addition to engaging in ballistic missile testing, and massively increasing its funding of terror activities and terror proxies.
  • Kahl also opposed the bipartisan Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013,” sponsored by Senator Menendez.  The Act called for sanctions on Iran and its terrorist proxies, and called for the U.S. to support Israel if Israel has to defend itself against Iran.  Kahl tweeted that the Act was “a diplomatic train wreck.”  Kahl also tweeted: “Proof that the new Iran sanctions legislation is a bad idea? Look at the Iraq war crowd supporting it,” and linked to a Lobe Log post entitled “Neocons Who Brought You The Iraq War Endorse AIPAC’s Iran Bill.”  The linked post called the bill the “Kirk-Menendez Wag the Dog Act”; said that “AIPAC and the Israel lobby . . . are flogging as hard as they possibly can” for the Act; called Democratic supporters of the Act “tokens”; called former Jewish Congresswoman Shelley Berkley “the biggest beneficiary of ‘pro-Israel PAC’ money in the House behind Sen. Mark Kirk himself”; and gloated that the “strong majority of Senate Democrats is still resisting pressure from AIPAC.”
  • Kahl wrote still more tweets opposing the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act.  Kahl tweeted that Iran would reciprocate with threats to escalate its nuclear behavior.  (In other words, we should appease threats.)  In still another post, Kahl tweeted: “How Grinch/Senate stole Christmas: new #Iran bill undermines diplo, makes war more likely. All the Who’s N Whoville hiding under their beds.”
  • Kahl’s soft-on-Iran positions also include opposing the Trump administration’s extraordinarily effective “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran.  (See The Importance of Sanctions on Iran,” Sec’y of State Michael R. Pompeo, US State Dep’t Archives, Nov. 8, 2020.)
  • In 2018, Kahl absurdly tweeted, “we are all going to die” if the White House replaced H.R. McMaster as national security adviser with pro-Israel, strong Iran opponent Ambassador John Bolton.  
  • In 2011, Kahl received a grant from the pro-Iran Ploughshares Fund to advocate for “diplomatic engagement with Iran” (the catastrophic Iran deal) and against a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. 
  • In 2019, Kahl accused Republicans of “debas[ing] themselves at the alter of Trump — they are the party of ethnic cleansing.” 
  • In 2019, Kahl also tweeted that “every Republican Senator” who supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia “shares ownership of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” – a statement indicating that Kahl supports the Iranian-backed Houtis over the Saudis.
  • In 2012, Kahl denounced Romney as willing to “say anything to get elected, no matter how reckless.”  
  • Christians United for Israel (“CUFI”) opposition to Colin Kahl’s nomination notes that Kahl is a “serial appeaser of Iran”; “helped advance an anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council just as President Obama was leaving office”; and “even criticized Israel’s 1981 decision to destroy Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor—a decision that has since enjoyed praise from Republican and Democratic leaders alike.”
  • In 2018, Kahl tweeted the paranoid anti-Israel conspiracy theory that: “The Israeli intel firm Black Cube used to go after Harvey Weinstein’s accusers also targeted me & [Ben Rhodes] (& our families). . . . Was this authorized by the Trump White House?  1/10.”  In the same “tweet thread,” Kahl suggested that the aides to President Trump hired the Israeli intel firm “to dig up dirt on us as part of an effort to discredit the Iran nuclear deal.”  Also in the same tweet thread, Kahl wrote: “About a month after the Israeli firm was allegedly hired, anonymous White House officials reached out to the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing tabloid, to smear Ben & me with baseless & false accusations. Notice the Israel angle to this piece.”   Kahl linked to a sourced report indicating that Kahl and Rhodes leaked damaging security information to the Washington Post.

(The Israeli firm Black Cube confirmed that it did not know or target Kahl and Rhodes, and that “Black Cube has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration or to the Iran Nuclear deal.”)

ZOA moreover agrees with Senator James Inhofe’s statement to Kahl: “What concerns me here is that hyper-partisanship, especially in regards to our national security, is inappropriate for the position of under secretary of Defense for policy. Unfortunately, in the past, in many cases, your public policy positions have been couched in partisan politics rather than fact-based analysis.”

Colin Kahl is indeed unfit to serve in a key defense policy position.