Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which describes itself as "the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world," will bring over two hundred Christian leaders from around the country to Washington, D.C. early next week to lobby the Senate against the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as Secretary of Defense.
CUFI, which is organizing the effort through its 501(c)4 offshoot, is arranging meetings with every one of the one hundred Senate offices.
"We're concerned not only that Hagel is a poor choice when it comes to Israel--frankly, we believe he's a poor choice when it comes to America and American security," CUFI executive director David Brog told Breitbart News.
"The number one security threat to America today is an ascendant and potentially nuclear Iran. And Hagel has demonstrated a consistent pattern of opposing economic sanctions on Iran, opposing diplomatic pressure on Iran, opposing the further isolation of Hizbollah, opposing recognizing Iran's Revolutionary Guard as the terrorists they are. As much as he's trying to walk away from his record in recent days, we believe his consistent record of action is far more important than his recent words," Brog said.
"And as far as we are concerned, if you don't recognize the number one security threat to America, how can you defend agains it?"
CUFI's aggressive approach stands in stark contrast to that of other pro-Israel groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which has remained silent and inactive on the Hagel nomination. Jewish groups in particular, aside from the Republican Jewish Coalition, have been reluctant to oppose Hagel actively, though some have voiced criticisms and concerns. Hagel met with AIPAC and several Jewish groups last week.
Hagel is considered likely to be confirmed, despite opposition from Republicans in the Senate minority. His candidacy received a critical--and perhaps decisive--boost from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) last week.
But CUFI refuses to be deterred or discouraged. "This, to us, is an uphill battle but an extremely important battle," Brog said.
"Most of the time, the Senate gives deference to the president on Cabinet appointments. People seen as pivotal, like Sen. Schumer, have announced their support. But we're not afraid. On the contrary, I think it is important that we show that we are not afraid to take on a difficult fight, and that the pro-Israel community is deep, broad and diverse--not only religiously, but also in our views on how best to defend America and our front line ally, Israel."
The diversity of the pro-Israel community is relevant to the controversy over Hagel's 2006 remark that the "Jewish lobby" was responsible for "intimidating people." CUFI is, by far, the largest pro-Israel organization in the country, with more than 1.2 million members across fifty states, according to officials. AIPAC, by contrast, has 100,000 members, according to its website. Hagel has since expressed regret for his choice of words.
Brog says the problems with Hagel's nomination go further than his remarks about Jews, and concern his stance on Iran.
"This isn't a minor disagreement on the fringes," he told Breitbart News. "This is a fundamental disagreement on the nature of the threat America faces today.
"To just let this happen silently, I think, would be a big error."