The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has noted with concern reports that CIA Director John O. Brennan was sent to Israel this week in order “to prevent it from taking action on its own in Syria” (Harriet Sherwood, ‘CIA chief John Brennan makes surprise Israel visit for Syria talks,’ The Guardian [London], May 17, 2013). If these reports are correct, the ZOA strongly criticizes the Obama Administration. During his recent visit to Israel, President Obama said of the U.S. that “we have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself.”
At the time of his nomination by President Obama, the ZOA warned that John Brennan had in 2009 whitewashed the Hizballah terrorist group, describing it as an organization that had “evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization.” The ZOA also noted that it had been revealed that Brennan favored negotiations with Hizballah. Now we see him at the head of U.S. action seeking to prevent Israel from striking at Hizballah.
Mr. Brennan’s unexpected visit to Israel to discuss the deteriorating security situation in neighboring Syria follows two Israeli air strikes on weapons stores near Damascus earlier in the month. Israel has repeatedly warned it will take action to prevent advanced or chemical weapons being transferred to the Syrian regime’s Lebanese ally, Hizballah, or falling into the hands of jihadist groups fighting alongside the Syrian opposition. An Israeli official was quoted this week in the New York Times as saying, “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah …The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region” (Mark Landler, ‘Israel Hints at New Strikes, Warning Syria Not to Hit Back,’ New York Times, May 15, 2013).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “If these reports of U.S. pressure upon Israel not to act against the transfer of Syrian weapons to Hizballah or other terrorists groups are true, then we strongly criticize the Obama Administration.
“It is perplexing to see, on one hand, that President Obama saying Assad must resign and leave office and even helping certain Syrian opposition groups and, on the other hand, pressuring Israel not to strike at Syria.
“Israel is facing tremendous threats on its doorstep, not from half the world away. Its margin for error is small to non-existent. The blood-soaked Syrian Baathist regime of Bashar Assad is not only an intractable enemy of Israel that has supported a brace of terrorist groups devoted to murdering Israelis and destroying the country, it is also the possessor of stocks of chemicals and other toxins that could be deployed on Syria’s many thousands of missiles pointed at Israel.
“If the Israeli government has reason to believe that these weapons stocks or missiles are being transferred or falling into the hands of shadowy, dangerous unaccountable Islamist terrorist groups and outfits, then it has not only the right but the obligation to act to stop these groups obtaining these weapons. In that situation, it is totally wrong for the Obama Administration to apply any sort of pressure on Israel to abstain from acting.
“If these reports of American pressure upon Israel not to take whatever steps its deems necessary to protects its citizens are untrue, then President Obama should immediately say so.”