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Largest Pro-Israel Group in US Launches Ads Against Biden Pentagon Pick

Christians United for Israel calls on Joe Manchin to Oppose Colin Kahl

Christian followers of American Evangelical Pastor John Hagee chant slogans in support of Israel as they wave Israeli and US flags during a rally downtown Jerusalem on April 07, 2008 / GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images
• March 12, 2021 4:00 pm

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A prominent pro-Israel group is launching a targeted ad campaign calling on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W. Va.) to oppose Pentagon nominee Colin Kahl, citing Kahl’s "antagonism" toward Israel and "disturbing" positions on Iran.

The series of ads will run in six West Virginia newspapers early next week, ahead of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote on Kahl’s nomination for undersecretary of defense for policy, which is expected to take place on Tuesday. Manchin has said he is still undecided and is likely to hold the swing vote on the committee.

The ads feature a statement by Pastor Doug Joseph, Christians United for Israel’s state director for West Virginia, describing Kahl as an "antagonistic anti-Israel voice" and asking constituents to call Manchin’s office and voice their opposition.

The ad campaign comes as a number of Republicans have come out strongly against Kahl, due to his positions on Israel and Iran, as well as his inflammatory Twitter comments. Kahl has referred to the GOP as the "party of ethnic cleansing" and a "clown show," and approvingly linked to an anti-Israel blog that claimed the "Israel lobby" was trying to start a war between the United States and Iran.

"Kahl’s nomination may well hinge on one vote. And that vote will very likely be our state’s own Sen. Joe Manchin," wrote Joseph. "Given his West Virginia values and common-sense approach to the Middle East, I am hopeful he’ll make the right decision and decline to support such a misguided nomination."

"The stakes are high. I have every confidence that Sen. Manchin is disturbed by Kahl’s record on Israel because, like the majority of West Virginians, the senator has Israel in his heart," he added.

Christians United for Israel is the largest pro-Israel advocacy group in the country and has over 77,000 members in West Virginia, according to a spokesman.

"Kahl’s hostility toward Israel is beyond unconventional. It’s outlandish," says Joseph in the ad. "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."

"Kahl’s disqualifying positions are not limited to his antagonism toward Israel. He has held numerous positions concerning Iran that call his judgment into question," the ad continues. "Among the most disturbing was his opposition to America's designation of Iran’s ruthless Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization."

Sen. Manchin did not respond to a request for comment.

The ads will run in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Herald Dispatch, the Register Herald, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, the Times West Virginian (Fairmont) and the Parkersburg News & Sentinel, according to CUFI.

"Colin Kahl is unfit to serve," said CUFI founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "His fringe pro-Iran, anti-Israel views would imperil the national security interests of the United States. The people of West Virginia are communicating with Sen. Manchin’s office and we believe it is incumbent upon the Senator to hear what his constituents are saying and oppose this nomination."