Don’t blame the Jews

Check out Ron Kampeas’ story on the Jewish organizational support for the Obama administration’s push for a strike on Syria.

Ron does a good job of explaining the tricky dance that Jewish groups are trying to perform — wanting to be seen as following the president’s lead rather than lobbying for action, and not simply for Israel’s benefit. Of course, all of this has the added value of being true.

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To be sure, many Jewish groups are certainly thinking about the immediate fallout for Israel of any attack against Syria and also the longer-term implications of U.S. action (or inaction) on the Iran nuclear front. At the same time, many Jewish groups would — even absent an Israel angle — be inclined to support U.S. military action in response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

More important, the president didn’t need pushing from Jewish groups or any other outside group or country. Not with John Kerry as his secretary of state. Many pro-Israel voices have been mocking Kerry in recent weeks over his bid to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks. But it could be argued that the same internationalist impulse is at work in both cases. It’s no accident that the guy who thinks the United States needs to try to broker a peace deal is also the one out front arguing that the United States cannot sit by and let a chemical attack go unanswered (especially after the president’s “red line” remark).

You can agree or disagree with Jewish groups on this, but they are a sideshow. This is Obama and Kerry’s war. Well, really Assad’s. But you know what I mean.

Ami Eden is JTA’s CEO and editor in chief, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the agency’s operations, including editorial, business, marketing and fundraising. Before joining JTA in the summer of 2007, he served as executive editor of the Forward newspaper and the founding editor of the Jewish Daily Forward Web site. He also worked as an editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia.