(January 3, 2020 / JNS) For the most part, Jewish and pro-Israel groups reacted positively to the U.S. elimination of the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Maj. Gen, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq on Friday.
“At the direction of the president, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” said the Pentagon in a statement.
“The president’s decisive action brought to justice one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, who was responsible for the deaths of over 600 U.S. servicemen,” said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a statement. “As the commander of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani ruthlessly carried out the regime’s revolutionary ambitions, causing death and destruction across the Middle East while endangering our allies and interests.”
“Like Osama bin Laden, Soleimani led a global terrorist network responsible for killing countless civilians, including many Americans. Under Soleimani’s command, the Quds Force planned terrorist attacks around the world, including in the US, Israel, Europe, Asia & [South America].”
“Soleimani’s demise weakens Iran and removes a terrorist mastermind, but it does not end the threat posed by Iran,” continued AIPAC. “We must work together with our allies to protect our troops and interests, and increase the economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime to achieve a broad agreement addressing Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missiles and destabilizing regional activities.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO and executive vice president Dan Mariaschin told JNS, “The American strike today was a major step in the war against terror. Soleimani was the chief agent for Iran’s export of terror throughout the region and beyond. Hopefully, this will serve as a strong deterrent to those who would seek to harm the United States and its allies.”
“The forces who carried out this attack are to be congratulated both in its execution and its impact,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS. “I think it will rank with the [2011 U.S.] elimination [in Pakistan] of Osama bin Laden. Soleimani was the leader of the Quds Force … who was responsible for the death of many Americans and many others. [He] was clearly the key figure for Iran and Iraq, and Syria.”
“And the message will not be lost,” he continued. “I hope that no other violence ensues, but it was a landmark event. It proved to be a watershed event as he will be very hard to replace, if it is even possible.”
While Hoenlein expressed concern over a possible escalation by Iran in response to Soleimani’s death, he said that “the United States messages have been very clear and very strong about the consequences of such action.”
He added that “many people are not aware about Soleimani as they were about Osama bin Laden.”
“Qassem Soleimani was a criminal responsible for hundreds of American military deaths in Iraq and the maiming of thousands of American soldiers through IEDs,” Jewish Policy Center senior director Shoshana Bryen told JNS. “He was responsible for the arming, training and battle management of proxy forces that produced the wreckage of Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. He was also responsible for the militias that attacked the U.S. embassy [in Baghdad]. The United States was not required to wait for more American deaths before acting.”
Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, noted that Soleimani was “the architect of the Iranian expansionist strategy to take over the Middle East and to ultimately make it a Shi’ite, Iranian-controlled theocracy. He played a key role in the Iranian proxy presence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He has been responsible for the buildup and military training of Hezbollah, which has become as one of the most powerful forces in Lebanon today; for the strategy that helped [Syrian President] Bashar Assad strengthen and maintain control of Syria, and helped to create the Russian-Iranian-Syrian alliance. He was also responsible for building up of the Houthi forces in Yemen and giving them sophisticated military technology, which was used to attack the oil fields in Saudi Arabia.”
In a tweet shortly after Solemani’s death, U.S. President Donald Trump simply posted a picture of the American flag, making no explicit reference to the successful operation.
Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director Halie Soifer slammed Trump’s tweet.
“This tweet exemplifies Trump’s approach to foreign policy. He wraps himself in the (pixellated) flag to justify his recklessness, demonstrating bluster and bravado. No one is shedding any tears for Soleimani, but we need a real strategy and actual leadership for what comes next.”
This tweet exemplifies Trump’s approach to foreign policy. He wraps himself in the (pixellated) flag to justify his recklessness, demonstrating bluster and bravado. No one is shedding any tears for Soleimani, but we need a real strategy and actual leadership for what comes next. https://t.co/fjyZ7HIFI8
— Halie Soifer (@HalieSoifer) January 3, 2020
“Soleimani was one of the highest-ranked, most important officials in Iran, the leader of the elite special forces within the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,” said Republican Jewish Coalition chairman and former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman in a statement. “He is personally responsible for uncountable deaths over more than a decade, including the deaths of over 600 US military personnel in Iraq. He has the blood of civilians in Syria and Yemen on his hands.”
“He was key to the growth of Hezbollah and other terrorist groups,” he continued. “It is difficult to overstate the role he played in Iran’s bloodiest operations around the region. His death makes the world a safer place.”
‘The price of killing and injuring Americans has just gone up’
Both sides of the political spectrum reacted differently to Soleimani’s death with Republicans celebrating and Democrats condemning the U.S. action.
“Wow—the price of killing and injuring Americans has just gone up drastically. Major blow to Iranian regime that has American blood on its hands. Soleimani was one of the most ruthless and vicious members of the Ayatollah’s regime. He had American blood on his hands,” stated Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a series of tweets. “I appreciate President @realDonaldTrump’s bold action against Iranian aggression. To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more.”
“If Iranian aggression continues and I worked at an Iranian oil refinery, I would think about a new career,” he continued. “This action by President Trump and our military was in direct response to Iranian aggression orchestrated by General Soleimani and his proxies. If Iran continues to attack America and our allies, they should pay the heaviest of prices, which includes the destruction of their oil refineries.”
“Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “The question is this: As reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”
Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question.
The question is this: As reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 3, 2020
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) slammed Murphy’s tweet.
“This tweet is simply drunk partisanship. Gen. Soleimani has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans, and was actively plotting more. This commander-in-chief—any C-in-C.—has an obligation to defend America by killing this bastard,” he tweeted.
This tweet is simply drunk partisanship. Gen. Soleimani has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans, and was actively plotting more. This commander-in-chief—any C-in-C.—has an obligation to defend America by killing this bastard. https://t.co/eQmiCgegxS
— Senator Ben Sasse (@SenSasse) January 3, 2020
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted that the United States “killed a man responsible for hundreds of thousands of death in #Syria and elsewhere, including Americans in Iraq. Let’s see how long the #blameAmerica left takes to make him look like a poor victim.”
killed a man responsible for hundreds of thousands of death in #Syria and elsewhere, including Americans in Iraq. Let’s see how long the #blameAmerica left takes to make him look like a poor victim. https://t.co/bZ2v3ThaAn
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 3, 2020
Three of the leading Democratic presidential candidates overtly objected to the U.S. strike.
“When I voted against the war in Iraq in 2002, I feared it would lead to greater destabilization of the region. That fear unfortunately turned out to be true. The U.S. has lost approximately 4,500 brave troops, tens of thousands have been wounded, and we’ve spent trillions,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars. Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”
Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.
Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 3, 2020
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that “President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.”
“The administration’s statement says that its goal is to deter future attacks by Iran, but this action will almost certainly have the opposite effect,” he said in a statement. “President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), tweeted that “Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.”
Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 3, 2020
“Qassem Soleimani was responsible for directing Iran’s destabilizing actions in Iraq, Syria and throughout the Middle East, including attacks against U.S. forces,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in a statement. “But the timing, manner and potential consequences of the administration’s actions raise serious questions and concerns about an escalating conflict.
“Our immediate focus needs to be on ensuring all necessary security measures are taken to protect U.S. military and diplomatic personnel in Iraq and throughout the region,” she continued. “The administration needs to fully consult with Congress on its decision-making, response plans and strategy for preventing a wider conflict.”
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