One of President Joe Biden’s judicial picks says he doesn’t know enough about the situation in Gaza to condemn Hamas terrorists.
Edward Sunyol Kiel brushed past questions about Hamas during a Senate hearing Wednesday, saying only that "it’s a terrible situation over there" but that "he hasn’t studied the situation" enough to condemn the terrorist attacks that left 1,400 Israelis dead. Kiel, Biden’s pick for United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey, equivocated when Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) asked about the attacks, as well as his thoughts on anti-Israel slogans like, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."
Hawley’s questions were prompted by Kiel’s association with the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which recently distributed a toolkit to help college students stage anti-Israel protests. The toolkit offers ideas for chants, such as "From Palestine to Mexico, these border walls have got to go," "When Palestine is under attack, What do we do? Stand up, fight back," and "Israel, Israel, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide."
Kiel said he was unfamiliar with the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s activities and that he only litigated on their behalf a handful of times. He declined to say whether their recent positions on Israel reflect his own views.
"As a judge and the role that I would be playing, my personal views would not come into consideration, certainly Senator, and I would keep an open mind for all matters that come before me," Kiel said.
Only after nearly five minutes of repeated questioning from Hawley did Kiel eventually agree that "any violence against the Jewish people should be condemned." But Kiel’s initial reluctance to unequivocally distance himself from the far-left, which has been responsible for a number of anti-Semitic incidents since Hamas’s terror attacks on Israel, speaks to the influence of the Democratic Party’s most radical elements.
Hawley later recalled an episode, caught on video, at The Cooper Union, a college in New York City, where Jewish students barricaded themselves in the library to hide from anti-Israel protesters. Again, Kiel said he was not familiar "with that situation" and refused to condemn it.
"I would condemn the genocide of Jewish people," Kiel, who currently serves as a magistrate judge for the district of New Jersey, said when pressed further.
A vote on Kiel’s nomination is expected to take place later this month. Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, did not respond to a request for comment.
Both the House and Senate have passed resolutions condemning anti-Semitism following Hamas’s attack on Israel. Hawley’s own resolution that targeted the flurry of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses passed on Oct. 26 after Democrats initially blocked the measure.
"Last week, Senate Democrats blocked my resolution to condemn pro-Hamas, pro-genocide activities on college campuses," Hawley said on X, formerly Twitter. "Today they changed their minds. Finally. We must speak with one voice as a nation: attacks on Israel and Jewish Americans are evil."