Russia Gives Congress a Break on Syria, But Israel Advocates Won't Back Down

"Our hearts and prayers go out to all the innocent victims of Syria's brutal civil war, which has already claimed the lives of over 100,000 people. We recognize that the use of chemical weapons is a dangerous escalation and an awful precedent that takes us to a new low. The United States and the international community must hold President Assad and all responsible for this heinous crime fully accountable," J Street said on Aug. 29.

"As President Obama and world leaders contemplate the appropriate course of action, we are cognizant that there are no easy or clear-cut solutions. Any action taken should aim to minimize the loss of civilian life, deter the further use of chemical weapons and avoid regional spillover."

Since then, the group has refused to wade into the debate any further or pick a side for any lobbying effort.

The Anti-Defamation League last week came out "strongly" in support of Obama's strike plan, calling the use of chemical weapons "an immoral crime of the first order."

"As Jews, we are particularly sickened by the images of unarmed and defenseless men, women and children who were indiscriminately targeted for death by toxic chemical weapons made and stockpiled by the Syrian government," ADL director Abe Foxman said. "…The world failed to act during the Holocaust and stood by through the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda. It is a moral imperative that the international community act now to prevent further atrocities in Syria."

Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center last week urged lawmakers to take lessons from the Holocaust and back the strikes.

When a World Jewish Congress representative in Switzerland told U.S. and British officials in 1942 about a Nazi plan to kill Jews using gas, "both governments were skeptical about the information and tragically wasted precious months doing nothing about it," the rabbis wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

“By 1945, six million Jews were murdered… since then, every American President, British Prime Minister and other political leaders around the world have pledged again and again that they will never allow history to repeat itself.”

The rabbis highlighted the British parliament vote against intervening in Syria, and urged Congress not to go down the same route.

“On behalf of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, we urge you to vote for the limited strike, because to do otherwise would only embolden the perpetrators and encourage them to gas more victims, while at the same time signaling the world that America’s assurances and promises mean nothing at all," they added. “This may not be the perfect solution, but it will send a dramatic signal to the Assad regime and all others, that you will have to pay a very high price if you continue to perpetrate such crimes against humanity."

The American Jewish Committee sent all lawmakers a letter last week also urging “support for the decision by President Obama to take limited military action against the Syrian regime in response to the overwhelming evidence of the regime’s use of chemical weapons targeted at Syrian civilians.”

The AJC leaders cautioned that “acquiescence in the face of the crimes evidently committed by the Assad regime would doubtless have wide-ranging consequences for U.S. interests and influence in the Middle East and around the world; invite further tests of American resolve and capacity to respond to declared threats; heighten instability in a volatile region; and amount to an abandonment of international responsibility to protect civilians from the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Obama meets separately with Senate Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday afternoon, according to the White House. He then delivers a statement on Syria in the East Room at 9:01:30 p.m. Eastern time, according to his schedule.