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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Hoenlein went to Syria but not at Netanyahu's request

Malcolm Hoenlein, the long-time Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, confirmed on Monday night that he traveled to Syria and met with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, but denied that he did so at the behest of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he visited the Syrian capital about 10 days ago, at the invitation of the Syrians, to pursue a humanitarian agenda. “I was not sent by the prime minister,” he told The Jerusalem Post by telephone from New York.

Officials insisting on anonymity said Hoenlein had a lengthy meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. They noted that during the visit, Assad gave approval for the restoration of Jewish synagogue and cemeteries, in an apparent goodwill gesture to the local Syrian community.

A Channel 10 News report on Monday evening had suggested Hoenlein visited Damascus as Netanyahu’s envoy, with personal messages from the prime minister for the president. Channel 10 claimed he also met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.

The revelation comes just two days the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reported that the US has secretly communicated with Syrian officials in recent weeks in hopes of brokering a comprehensive peace agreement between Syria and Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's office declined to comment on the report.

Hmmm. Recall that Syria denied that Kuwaiti story.

Given that Hoenlein is one of the many 'Jewish leaders' to reassure us that President Obama is pro-Israel over the last three years (although he has also criticized Obama), I'd say it's far more likely that Obama sent him than that Netanyahu did.

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