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“Israel agrees with President Obama that the use of chemical weapons is a ‘heinous act’ for which the Assad regime must be held accountable and for which there must be ‘international consequences,’ “ Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, wrote last week on a Facebook message.

“Israel further agrees with the president that the use of chemical weapons promotes the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and encourages ‘governments who would choose to build nuclear arms.’ “ Oren’s former deputy Dan Arbell said any Israeli pronouncement on a matter of intense public debate would have to be made with considered delicacy.

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“It’s always a fine line to walk,” said Arbell, a lecturer on the Israeli-Arab conflict at American University. “You don’t want to insert yourself into the middle of a debate.”

Harris said the narrative of Jewish eagerness for war – peddled heavily during and after the Iraq War – was to be expected. But he added that this should not inhibit Jewish groups from exercising their right to make their views known.

“We’re proud Americans who have every reason and right to engage in the debate as other Americans,” Harris said. “We care deeply about American influence and American national security.”

(JTA)

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