“Pro-Israel groups launch blitz against Kahl nomination for top Pentagon job,” read the Jewish News Syndicate headline on March 15.
The headline isn’t untrue.
The problem is that there were just two groups, one of them Christian. How’s that line go again “If I am not for myself…”?
There should have been a chorus of protest from the American Jewish establishment leading up to the March 4 Senate hearings on Colin Kahl’s nomination for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
It’s an important job. As The Wall Street Journal noted, “While the Secretary of Defense handles high-level defense politics, and the deputy secretary manages the department day-to-day, the undersecretary plays the leading role setting strategy — including representing the department at National Security Council deputies meetings.”
Yet AIPAC was AWOL. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s excuse is it doesn’t take positions on presidential nominations.
If you’re the largest pro-Israel lobby in America and you can’t call out nominees espousing anti-Israel policies, what can you do? Kahl typifies such policies. It should be right in AIPAC’s bailiwick. As it likes to say, “policy over partisanship.”
The ZOA’s Mort Klein tells us the real reason for their silence is that “many Jewish groups don’t want to criticize the Biden administration nominees, fearing this would reduce the chances (1) they will be invited to meetings with White House officials and (2) those officials will agree to attend the events or webinars of Jewish groups.
“Access for its own sake is enough for some Jewish groups. Others actually support the far-left, hostile-to-Israel policies of these nominees,” Klein said.
It’s been left to Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) to beat the drums against Kahl.
“While we generally respect the president’s right to nominate who he sees fit, Colin Kahl’s nomination is beyond the pale,” said CUFI co-founder Pastor John Hagee.
CUFI calls Kahl “a serial Iran appeaser” with ties to pro-Iranian groups in the U.S. He “has even claimed that Iran has a right to enrich uranium,” it noted, despite Iran’s status as the world’s premier terror sponsor.
CUFI launched an ad campaign in a half dozen West Virginia newspapers earlier this week to put pressure on Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who has been waffling on whether to support Kahl.
The ZOA also condemned Kahl’s “extremely concerning record of advocating pro-Iranian regime positions.”
The ZOA notes that as former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden, Kahl played a key role in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The Iran deal, as we know, was a disaster. It didn’t even pretend to stop Iran’s race for a bomb. Its “sunset clauses” were like a countdown for Iran going nuclear.
Kahl has espoused other positions harmful to Israel. The ZOA reminds us that it was Kahl who co-wrote the 2012 Democratic platform, which omitted the statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The omission led to an embarrassing reversal for the Democratic Party which was forced to reinsert the line.
Kahl defended himself at the time, saying, “Nobody can read the Democratic platform on Israel and come away with the sense that it’s not pro-Israel. It’s extraordinarily pro-Israel.”
Someone needs to hand Kahl a dictionary so he can look up “pro-Israel.”
Others have noted Kahl’s consistency as a false prophet. Among his mispredictions was his opposition to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which he said would lead to a “third intifada” and weaken America’s position in the Middle East. Two years later we celebrated the Abraham Accords.
Republicans raked Kahl over the coals at his hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee two weeks ago, grilling him on his uncanny ability to get it wrong. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Kahl isn’t.
The Wall Street Journal found Kahl’s nomination serious enough to weigh in, noting how he had predicted that the billions Obama sent to Iran would be used to buy butter not guns. Iran’s well-armed terror proxies say different.
It’s not yet known if Kahl will be confirmed. What we do know is that if he isn’t, it won’t be thanks to the American Jewish establishment.
David Isaac is managing editor of World Israel News.
This op-ed was originally published in World Israel News and can be viewed here.