Israel Responds to Obama’s Syria Speech With Anger But Not Shock

The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be set up on high. (Proverbs 29:25)

Syria news
President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he would delay his decision on whether or not to attack Syria until Congress votes on it, a statement that has many Israelis worried. (Photo: YouTube/Screen Shot)

While many Israeli government members, including the Prime Minister Office offered no response to US President Barack Obama’s speech on Saturday announcing the decision to seek congressional approval before attacking Syria, a number of ministers on the right wing have voiced their displeasure with the Commander-in-Chief’s decision, according to The Times of Israel.

Members of the up-and-coming Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party lashed out at Obama on Saturday and Sunday for delaying a decision on Syria yet again. Uri Ariel, the minister of housing, declared that “in Tehran, they’re opening the champagne, and switching into a higher gear en route to nuclear weapons.” Ariel noted the 100,000 corpses in Syria, accused the world of doing nothing, and concluded that, “facing real dangers, no one in the world will stand with us.” On Sunday, Ariel repeated his criticism, calling Assad a cowardly killer, who had indiscriminately killed thousands, and who needed to be confronted. “He’s not a lion, he’s a murderous rabbit; take care of him already.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his office remained silent on Sunday in efforts to officially remain uninvolved in the Syrian crisis. The cabinet was briefed by chief of the IDF General Staff, Benny Gantz, and other security chiefs, on Sunday however, the Times reported.

In private, however, Jerusalem is far from surprised by President Obama’s decision to delay his decision yet again. Most regard it as being in accord with his approach to the presidency. The initial sense in Jerusalem, according to Israel Radio, is that Obama will win Congressional approval for a strike, nonetheless, the delay of more than a week before Congress meets on the issue could open other avenues, including a possible Russian effort to persuade the Assad regime to send its chemical weapons supplies to Russia and thus avert a strike, the radio report said. Talks on such an arrangement could potentially continue for weeks.

Several leading Hebrew media commentators said Netanyahu was likely less than happy about the delay in US military action, which was announced by Obama only a day after Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of the imperative for action. Kerry insisted Friday that President Bashar Assad’s regime had carefully planned the August 21 attack, in which he said 1,429 people were killed.

Nadav Eyal, on Israel’s Channel 10 news, said Obama’s hesitancy would give Netanyahu nightmares about the US president’s capacity to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. On the same channel, analyst Zvi Yehezkeli, said that Tehran would consider Washington as “a paper tiger.”

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) said that the delay would give Israel a time to prepare for the eventuality – slight by official estimations — that Israel would absorb rocket attacks in retaliation for an American strike.

“We received a narrow window to speed up the production and distribution of protective kits, to fill holes in our readiness, and to prepare the population for an population,” he wrote on Facebook.

Shai, who as IDF spokesman during the first Gulf War served as a soothing voice to calm the fears of many Israelis, recently told The Times of Israel that the Home Front was in better shape than two decades ago, but gas mask distribution issues still needed to be worked out.

Hebrew media reports late Saturday exposed that Syrian government officials were bragging that the US had “lost the war before it started,” and that Syria’s mufti was claiming Obama “has withdrawn; we have been victorious.”