Malcolm Hoenlein Meets with Syria’s Assad


malcolm-hoenleinMalcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, has returned from a trip to Damascus where he met with Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.¬†Hoenlein, in a brief interview with Politico today, said that he met with Assad “not as a negotiator or a mediator” but to “have discussions about humanitarian issues.”

“I am for four decades involved in humanitarian issues and concerns, and we held discussions about humanitarian issues,” Hoenlein said, declining to confirm whether among the issues discussed was Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held hostage by Hamas.

“People know my word is my word and I am not discussing what we talked about,” Hoenlein said. Hoenlein said that he traveled to Damascus 10 days ago.

Israel Channel 10 reported today that Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu had sent Hoenlein as an emissary to Damascus.

“Syria is very complicated place and an important country in region, and it’s important to see what can be done in the future,” Hoenlein said. “I meet with a number of Arab leaders, if they trust you, they talk to you. I don’t hide my agenda or what I am or what I believe.”

Syria analyst David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said the paradigm of Israeli prime ministers sending private American envoys to Damascus has a precedent, noting that in the late 1990s Netanyahu sent American Jewish philanthropist Ron Lauder to Damascus as his emissary.

Schenker said Israel employs the (secret American) envoy model because Syria won’t hold direct negotiations with the Israelis.

He also interpreted Hoenlein’s description of his trip as a “humanitarian mission” as suggesting the trip had less to do with Netanyahu exploring a Syria-Israel peace track than trying to secure Shalit’s release.

“It doesn’t appear to me that the Israelis believe that it is a particularly opportune time for peace negotiations with Syria,” Schenker said, noting reports in the past year of Syria allegedly sending increasingly sophisticated weaponry to Hizbollah in Lebanon.

At the same time, Schenker added, “there are smart people who believe that Syria is so driven by the desire to improve its economy that it needs better relations with the United States, and that a peace treaty with Israel is a way to restore relations with Washington.”

President Barack Obama announced last week that he was recess-appointing American diplomat Robert S. Ford to serve as U.S. ambassador in Syria. Ford will be the first U.S. ambassador in Damascus since 2005.



  1. How DARE you criticize this prince of Torah and Askanus who has dedicated his life to the welfare of K’lal Yisrael and doesn’t make a move without consulting Torah leaders?

  2. Well done to Malcolm Hoenlein and Prime Minister Netanyahu for organising the trip. Syria as one of Israel’s neighbours is a very important country for the divinely mandated mission of World Peace 2050. If all the leaders play their cards right the Middle East will be the centre of a planetary Ganeden. This is the prophesied solution.

  3. Why can’t us Jews just understand that the arabs will always hate the Jews becuase it says that straight from the Torah- Esav Soneh Es Yaakov!! there is no point in trying to talk nicely and respectfully with the arabs and no point in talking to them at all because it will accomplish absolutely nothing!Why are Jews constantly trying to PLEASE the arabs who mock us in return for our efforts to appease them!!!?????????