Jewish Groups Poised To Back Obama on Syria

White House Pushes for Supports as Congress Votes

Gathering Storm: President Obama is pushing Congress to back his plans to attack Syria. Jewish groups are expected to back him.
getty images
Gathering Storm: President Obama is pushing Congress to back his plans to attack Syria. Jewish groups are expected to back him.

By JTA

Published September 03, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An array of Jewish organizations are set to endorse President Obama’s call for military strikes against Syria, although the degree of support is not yet clear.

A number of organizations — including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Zionist Organization of America, Americans for Peace Now and the Anti-Defamation League — will participate in a conference call on Syria at 2:15 with administration officials. The call is being organized by the Presidents’ Conference.

Following the call, the President’s Conference will convene its own conference call to shape a statement, Malcolm Hoenlein, the foreign policy umbrella body’s executive vice president, confirmed to JTA. Hoenlein also confirmed also that the statement would support Obama’s call to action, but he could not say to what extent.

Others predicted wholehearted endorsement.

“I would predict that the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community will support the president’s decision on moral grounds and national security grounds,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, told JTA.

Obama on Tuesday met with top congressional officials and repeated his appeal to support limited on strikes on Syria to degrade its chemical weapons capability. That meeting came on the heels of the president’s decision over the weekend to seek congressional approval prior to any military move.

“This is a limited, proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the Assad regime, but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms, that there are consequences,” Obama said before the meeting.

As he has done repeatedly since first indicating his intention to strike Syria, Obama cited the potential threat to Israel, among other American allies, as one of his concerns.

“This norm against using chemical weapons that 98 percent of the world agrees to is there for a reason,” he said. “Because we recognize that there are certain weapons that, when used, can not only end up resulting in grotesque deaths, but also can end up being transmitted to non-state actors; can pose a risk to allies and friends of ours like Israel, like Jordan, like Turkey; and unless we hold them into account, also sends a message that international norms around issues like nuclear proliferation don’t mean much.

A number of officials close to Jewish organizations said a full endorsement was a natural for a community that watched in horror after a suspected chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government killed an estimated 1,400 people — including 400 children — in an attack last month near Damascus.

“It’s hard to imagine there’s a rabbi alive who has a High Holiday service who is not going to talk about a Syria,” said one Jewish official who often brokers relations between the White House and the Jewish community.

Until Obama declared over the weekend that he was ready to strike, however, Jewish groups had been reluctant to weigh in on American intervention, in part because of the hangover from unwarranted attacks in the last decade blaming Jewish lobbying for the Iraq War. Foxman said such hesitations were obviated by Obama’s explicit call for a strike.

“The president has made his decision and we’re not ahead of it,” Foxman said. “He’s not doing this for Israel. This may have serious ramifications for Israel which are negative.”


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!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • 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.