The pro-Israel groups that agreed to lobby Congress on behalf of President Barack Obama’s plan for “limited” strikes against Syria over its chemical weapons use have been dealt a hard lesson after the president and his allies appeared to ditch the effort for a Russian-approved plan for Syria to turn over its stockpiles.
Just hours after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the Holocaust in calling for military action, he postponed Wednesday’s Senate vote on Obama’s resolution, ostensibly so that Obama would have time to make his case to the nation. The real reasons: the vote was looking bad, and Obama had shifted gears.
That left the 250 activists sent by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to Capitol Hill this week out on a limb–together with the Anti-Defamation League, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), all of which had joined the push for a Syria strike, virtually alone.
The lesson for pro-Israel leaders eager to leave their supporters behind in the hope of currying some favor with an unhelpful White House is clear: if your strategy depends in any way on action by Barack Obama, you need to start over with a new strategy. The Obama administration is all about Obama, and nothing more.
Or, as the ancient Jewish sages taught in Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of the Fathers”): “Be careful with the government, for they befriend a person only for their own needs. They appear to be friends when it is beneficial to them, but they do not stand by a person at the time of his distress.” (2:3)
Full disclosure: the author is a member of RJC Leadership