Thursday, January 31, 2013
A Mitzvah for Obama
President Obama owes Israel a big thank-you for yesterday’s airstrike on a convoy of Russian-made missiles along the Syrian-Lebanese border.
News dispatches from the region say that sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles were being shipped to Hezbollah terrorists. With Syria coming apart and Islamists taking the lead among the anti-government rebels, the Israelis did the only sensible thing with the convoy: They took it out.
In acting yesterday, Israel sent a healthy message not just to Hezbollah but to its sponsors in Tehran: Its red lines for military intervention are real.
Jerusalem’s fear is that Islamist groups plan to take advantage of the chaos in Syria to get their hands on President Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal — including chemical weapons.
Certainly that would make the neighborhood more dangerous for Israel. But it would also strengthen Iran’s hand — and guarantee more instability throughout the entire Middle East. That’s not something that Obama could want.
Unfortunately, the president’s tough rhetoric about Iran hasn’t been matched with resolute action. Indeed, this week we are reading about his administration’s failure to counter the Islamist influence among anti-Syrian rebels by trying to unite them under military councils.
That’s the price you pay for leading from behind. And if you are unwilling to step up yourself, you have an obligation at least to support those who do.
The coming days will likely bring any number of occasions testing American support for Israel — whether it comes in the form of a European Union sanction, a UN Security Council resolution or a Hezbollah counterattack.
Thus far the White House has remained silent. We encourage the president to let the Israelis know the US has their backs on this one — and prove it.