Let both sides in Syria bleed says Israeli official
Israel has come out into the open to lend its weight to Barack Obama's plan to attack Syria.
Israel wants the U.S. president to act but not decisively. The Jewish state is happy to see the turmoil continue despite the slaughtering of innocent civilians as it weakens a traditional enemy of Israel. Similarly events in Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon appear to be amenable to Israel.
A New York Times article this week says Israelis have increasingly argued that the best outcome for Syria's two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome.
"For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad's government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis," the Times article said.
"This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don't want one to win we'll settle for a tie," Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York (pictured), was quoted by The New York Times as saying. "Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that's the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there's no real threat from Syria."
Israel's national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama's approach. The group's statement said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war, said the Times report.
In fact to the contrary, the AIPAC statement made much of the suffering of civilians to justify its support for limited U.S. air strikes. "The civilized world cannot tolerate the use of these barbaric weapons, particularly against an innocent civilian population including hundreds of children," the AIPAC statement said. "Simply put, barbarism on a mass scale must not be given a free pass."
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations also endorsed U.S. air strikes but more as a punishment rather than to curtail the violence. "Those who perpetuate such acts of wanton murder must know that they can not do so with impunity," a statement from the conference said.
Matthew Levitt, who studies the region at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The New York Times Jerusalem and Washington essentially agree that "right now, there's no good way for this war to end."
Israeli leaders "want Assad to be punished; they'd like it to be punishing enough that it actually makes a difference in the war but not so much that it completely takes him out," Mr. Levitt said. "The Israelis do not think the status quo is tenable either, but they think the status quo right now is better than the war ending tomorrow, because the war ending tomorrow could be much worse. There's got to be a tomorrow, day-after plan."