Biden Pentagon pick bad for Israel, says Zionist Organization of America

The ZOA says it was Kahl who co-wrote the 2012 Democratic platform that removed support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) released a forceful statement on March 12 urging the U.S. Senate not to confirm Biden nominee Colin Kahl for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

In doing so they join Christians United for Israel, a Christian Zionist group which is running an ad campaign in six West Virginia newspapers this week opposing the nomination in order to put pressure on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who remains undecided on the appointment.

ZOA President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Chairman Mark Levenson said in a statement that they opposed the confirmation:

“…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.”

ZOA’s statement detailed in list form a series of disturbing positions and actions by Kahl, particularly relating to Israel.

The ZOA says it was Kahl who co-wrote the 2012 Democratic platform that removed support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In an August 2012 Foreign Policy op-ed, Kahl also condemned then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney for declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the group said.

The same 2012 op-ed also laid the blame for the situation in the Palestinian Authority on the “economically debilitating effects of Israeli occupation” and wrongly claimed then-President Barack Obama “defend[ed] Israel over the Gaza flotilla incident” when, in fact, he pressured Israel to apologize to Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

The ZOA also notes that Kahl, as a former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden, played a key role in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Israel staunchly opposed.

The ZOA statement says, “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).”

It is not yet known if Kahl will be confirmed. His nomination may run aground partly due to his vitriolic tweets, as happened to Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget.

But the most substantive issue is Kahl’s support for the Iran deal. On March 8, the Wall Street Journal issued an editorial opposing the nomination on the basis of Kahl’s mispredictions.

“Mr. Kahl’s strategic Mideast misjudgments have been pronounced. In 2015 as Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Mr. Kahl argued for sanctions relief on Iran, declaring they ‘are not going to spend the vast majority of the money on guns, most of it will go to butter.’ In the event, Tehran took advantage of the windfall to increase its financing for proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.”

Kahl attacked the Trump administration once out of government for exiting the Iran deal in 2018.

The Journal also notes that Kahl opposed the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, wrongly predicting that it would isolate the U.S. and lead to a “third intifada.” The opposite happened – the American position was strengthened and four Muslim states signed accords with Israel.

The paper points out the importance of the position of undersecretary of defense for policy, which “plays the leading role setting strategy—including representing the department at National Security Council deputies meetings.”