Israel Advocates Quiet on U.S. Plans To Arm Syria Rebels

Fears Remain That Arms Will Find Way to Islamists

Tough Fight: Syrian rebels are pressing their fight against the Damascus regime. Despite concerns, pro-Israel advocates are staying neutral on the question of whether the U.S. should arm the rebels.
Getty Images
Tough Fight: Syrian rebels are pressing their fight against the Damascus regime. Despite concerns, pro-Israel advocates are staying neutral on the question of whether the U.S. should arm the rebels.

By Nathan Guttman

Published May 27, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Israel and its supporters in the United States are so far not challenging proposals to send ammunition and even light artillery to some Syrian opposition groups, despite fears that those arms could end up in the hands of fighters committed to global jihad.

An official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel lobby, said the group has not taken a position on proposed legislation calling for the arming of certain opposition groups, or on the broader issue of arming the Syrian opposition.

Meanwhile, in Israel, a government official explained that Jerusalem is focused only on arms capable of changing the regional balance — a concern that leads Israel to worry more about the Syrian government’s arms build-up as it battles to put down the opposition.

The weapons that worry Israel include Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft systems that could pose a threat to Israeli air superiority. Russia recently agreed to send these weapons to Syria despite Israeli entreaties.

Israel is also determined to block advanced surface-to-surface missiles from being transferred to Hezbollah from Iran via Syria.

“Bullets and mortars,” the Israeli official said, “are for internal fighting” and therefore are not of great concern to Jerusalem.

Recent events on the ground further highlighted Israel’s focus on Syria’s military, not on potential future threats from armed opposition groups. On May 21, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired at an Israeli military vehicle patrolling the border in the Golan Heights. Israel responded with gunfire directed at a Syrian army outpost and with a stern warning from its armed forces chief of staff, Benny Gantz, that Assad will “bear the consequences” of any escalation along the border.

Israeli officials, however, have made clear that they will not intervene in the Syrian civil war, including by taking a position regarding American military aid to opposition forces.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.