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October 8, 2019 12:04 pm

US Jewish Groups Lambaste President Trump Over ‘Abandonment’ of Kurdish Allies to ‘Deadly Whims’ of Turkey’s Erdogan

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Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) head a convoy of US military vehicles in the town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, Syria, April 28, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Rodi Said.

US Jewish groups have reacted with dismay following President Donald Trump’s announcement of a new Syria policy that effectively leaves America’s Kurdish allies exposed to a brutal invasion by a vastly-better equipped Turkish army.

In a statement on Tuesday, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper  — dean and associate dean respectively of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center — urged Trump not to “abandon” the Kurds to the “deadly whims” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Maintaining the presence of a few hundred American troops to protect America’s ally is the most prudent and appropriate path and will negate future attacks by Turkey against people who stood and stand with the United States of America,” Hier and Cooper asserted.

Other Jewish groups were similarly outraged by Trump’s announcement, which came following a telephone call on Sunday with Erdogan.

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“We are appalled by President Trump’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in northern Syria,” said Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO Mark Mellman in a statement. “All of us owe a deep debt of gratitude to American troops, who put their lives on the line to defend us, and we certainly want them safe and home as quickly as possible.”

Said Mellman: “Allowing Turkey to invade Kurdish territory in northern Syria will result in thousands of Kurdish deaths, deprive millions of their rights, and will prevent Kurdish forces from battling ISIS and from continuing to detain the tens of thousands of ISIS fighters currently in their custody.”

Jewish Democratic Council of America chairman Ron Klein, a former Florida Democratic congressman, said in a statement: “This decision has created a dangerous and unstable situation in the Middle East, similar to Trump’s December 2018 decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. What we said at the time remains true today — Trump’s withdrawal from Syria is a betrayal of our allies and a boon to our adversaries. It’s not ‘America First’ in any respect. Rather, it’s an ‘Iran and Russia First’ policy.’ ”

Sarah Stern — founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, which houses the Kurdistan Project — told US Jewish news agency JNS: “We already have seen, through Erdogan’s brutal treatment of the Kurds in Afrin, that this is going to lead to a horrendous human massacre and possibly a genocide.”

Added Stern: “I understand and fully appreciate what President Trump has done for Israel, but as the great sage Hillel once said, ‘If I am not for myself, who am I for? But if I am for myself, alone, what am I?’”

The Republican Jewish Coalition did not respond to a request from JNS for comment.

“A US troop withdrawal from Syria would embolden Iran’s hold on Syria, endangering Israel and US interests,” National President of the Zionist Organization of America Mort Klein told JNS. “As Senator Lindsey Graham noted today, Iran’s power was enhanced when former President Obama withdrew US troops from Iraq — and the same would happen in the event of a troop departure from Syria.”

“In addition to empowering Iran on Israel’s northwest border, the dangers of withdrawal include sending a message that the United States may be willing to abandon allies who are also a strong supporter of Israel; the danger that the Kurds may then ally with Iran; an ISIS resurgence that threatens the U.S. homeland; a potential escape of thousands of ISIS prisoners if their Kurdish guards need to turn their attention to fending off an attack from Turkey; and increased instability,” Klein explained. “We hope that the president will reassess this situation.”

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