Israel mum on Syria, US Jewish groups speak out

American Jewish Committee says resolution not enough, more measures targeting Syrian government, country’s energy sector should be passed.

August 5, 2011 06:19
3 minute read.
Hama residents duck to avoid bullets in Syria

Hama residents duck to avoid bullets from Syrian army 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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NEW YORK – Condemnation of Syria in the wake of the crackdown on anti-government movement in Hama that started last weekend has been vocal and near universal.

Israel has been one of the few exceptions.

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Jerusalem has remained mute on the subject, perhaps because it has been preoccupied by protests at home over the cost of housing. More likely, however, because it does not want to be seen as supporting the movement that Syrian President Bashar Assad has accused of being orchestrated by Israel, in a bid to delegitimize it.

Jewish-American organizations, however, have no such qualms and have been more outspoken in their condemnation of Israel’s northeastern neighbor.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday all issued statements criticizing Damascus.

“The people in Syria have been looking to the West and saying ‘your silence is killing us,’” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents.

Hoenlein said the protracted talks at the United Nation’s Security Council over how to respond to violence in Syria, compared with the relative ease with which condemnations of Israel are passed through the General Assembly, exposed the hypocrisy of some UN members.

“They attack Israel, but when it came to Syria, where the violations are so blatant, they did not and it highlighted the double standard or quadruple standard found in the United Nations,” he said.

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The message that human rights violations were unacceptable should be extended to Iran, which “provides weapons and manpower to suppress the popular expressions [in Syria],” Hoenlein said.

The American Jewish Committee said the resolution was not enough and that more measures including targeting of individuals in the Syrian government and the country’s energy sector should be passed.

“As the UN Security Council met over the past three days, the Assad regime has significantly increased its violent repression of the Syrian people,” AJC Executive Director David Harris said. “The extent of the carnage wrought by Assad in Hama, Homs, Daraa and other cities over the past four months demands stronger international condemnation and action.”

Russia, China and others were “complicit in obstructing global efforts to support the courageous Syrian protesters and to convince Assad to stop the ruthless campaign of violence against his own people. The Syrian people deserve more empathy and firmer action by the UN. Regrettably, several of the Security Council members have chosen to ignore their anguish,” the AJC said.

The Anti-Defamation League also said the resolution approved by the Security Council was insufficient and urged the council pass sanctions against the government in Damascus.

“While it is appropriate for the Security Council to be dealing with the ongoing crisis in Syria, the council’s presidential statement condemning the Assad regime’s human rights violations and ruthless use of force against Syrian civilians is a wholly inadequate response,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said. “In light of the regime’s brutality in recent months, particularly its current actions in the town of Hama, we urge the council to adopt a resolution that will make it unambiguously clear to President Assad that unless he reverses course, the international community will impose immediate consequences on his repressive regime.”

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