JNS.org – The umbrella organization representing more than 50 Jewish groups on Tuesday issued a statement saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his people requires a “strong response.”
Prior to the statement by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the White House held a conference call to brief Jewish leaders on the situation in Syria.
“The use of such indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction represents moral challenges that require a strong response,” the Conference of Presidents said.
Morton A. Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of American (ZOA), participated in the White House conference call and told JNS.org that his organization “supports a military response to Syria because it will help maintain America’s credibility, especially when it comes to the threats from Iran, which is a close ally of Syria.”
But Klein added one caveat to his support.
“If [the U.S. military or Syrian rebels] are successful in getting rid of the Assad regime, who will take over? Will it be a Muslim Brotherhood-style regime like we experienced in Egypt after the fall of [former President Hosni] Mubarak? That is a deep concern for [ZOA]. But given everything, we nonetheless support action against Syria to get rid of the chemical weapons,” Klein said.
After the conference call, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) urged Congress to grant Obama the ability to authorize military action against Syria. Obama will seek approval for military action after Congress reconvenes on Sept. 9.
“The civilized world cannot tolerate the use of these barbaric weapons, particularly against an innocent civilian population including hundreds of children,” AIPAC stated.
The Conference of Presidents said taking action against Syria would send a message to Iran.
“Those who possess or seek weapons of mass destruction, particularly Iran and Hezbollah, must see that there is accountability,” the statement said.
A source with knowledge of the White House’s conference call with Jewish leaders told JNS.org that the Obama Administration on the call assured Jewish leaders that it would not permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and that America would take military action against the Islamic Republic if necessary.
The source—who requested to remain anonymous—added that White House officials said on the call that America would use military force to defend Israel against an attack by Iran or Syria.