NEW YORK – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is urging American Jews to refrain from visiting Syria, warning that such visits are orchestrated by the Syrian government to distract attention from its sponsorship of terrorism, illegal occupation of Lebanon, and development of weapons of mass destruction.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported (June 8, 2004) that the gregarious new Syrian ambassador in Washington, Imad Moustapha has launched a new Syrian charm offensive aimed at improving Syrias image in the West. As part of this effort, the JTA reported that Moustapha recently took an official U.S. Jewish delegation to Syria.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: Syria continues to actively sponsor terrorism against Israel, illegally occupies Lebanon, is developing chemical and biological weapons, and has actively aided the anti-American terrorists in Iraq. Even the Bush administration, which has bent over backwards to refrain from getting tough with Syria, recently recognized it had no choice but to impose some sanctions on Damascus. It is wrong for American Jews or any Americans to help sanitize the Syrian regime by visiting Syria.
Undersecretary of State John Bolton, testifying before Congress on September 16, 2003, said: Syria permitted volunteers to pass into Iraq to attack and kill our service members during the war, and is still doing so. He also acknowledged that Syria offers physical sanctuary and political protection to groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, whose terrorist operations have killed hundreds of innocent people, including Americans. (Hezbollah, which is based in Syrian-occupied Lebanon, carried out the 1983 car-bomb massacre of 241 U.S. Marines in Lebanon, among other attacks.)