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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776
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Why is AIPAC Suddenly Part of the Syria Strike Push?

Team Obama came down hard on AIPAC to use its political muscle to convince members of congress to vote in favor of the U.S. strike on Syria.

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AIPAC has Obama's back, if not vice versa

AIPAC has Obama's back, if not vice versa

In an article published Monday, the day after word came out about Obama’s push on AIPAC, Ed Lasky asks some very pointed questions:

where are all those Arab-American groups? Why don’t we read articles about them working on Congressmen? Why hasn’t the White House pressured them to become involved in this effort? After all, it is their people being murdered by the tens of thousands. At the very least it would reduce charges about Jews and Israel and Washington — even if Arab-American groups don’t have as much sway as other groups.

Aren’t these the various groups that raise hell when there is even a whiff of prejudice towards Muslims?  Barack Obama has constantly hosted these groups in the White House — and not just to celebrate Muslim holidays. The White House has their contact information and has close relationships with them.

Another conservative political commentator made a similar point.  Richard Baehr, in an article in Israel HaYom, pointed out that Obama has not even employed his own personal lobbying group, Organizing for America, to lobby members of congress on behalf of his Syria Plan.

Those are worthwhile points to consider, although, a small amendment should be noted: the Muslim Public Affairs Council came out publicly in favor of American intervention against Syria, in the wake of Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

But whether or not Rosen believes it is “fair” to call on AIPAC to put its neck on the line for yet another wildly unpopular U.S. military effort, he ultimately concludes it is sufficiently important for the U.S. to follow through on its stated commitment to act, given Assad’s crossing Obama’s red line.

While many ridicule secretary of state John Kerry’s description of the proposed American attack as a “teeny weeny” strike, Rosen believes that even a limited attack, one which “destroys Syria’s aircraft and helicopters, degrades its air defenses and disables its runways, would be a benefit to Israel and the region — no matter who emerges victorious there.”

Rendering worthless Syria’s air force infrastructure surely responds to, if not entirely disables, the argument for sitting out this fight because either side is monstrous.

Rosen believes America’s failure to act “will be a disaster for the Middle East and the world, and it may be impossible to contain the damage.”

And Rosen goes further. “Israel’s permanent reality is that it lives in that very bad neighborhood, faced with an existential crisis and a Syrian civil war in danger of spiraling out of control.” Rosen says that is why an overwhelming majority of Israelis hope that Obama succeeds in convincing congress to act.

And even if the U.S. decides to accept Russia’s offer to “guarantee” Syria will turn over all its chemical weapons to the international community – an idea that seemed to erupt from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s mouth without his having thought it through in advance – the political maneuvers and AIPAC’s role, its response and its being held hostage, are well worth consideration.

Next time someone asks whether Obama has Israel’s back, the likely answer may well be, “no, but AIPAC has Obama’s.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com

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