Steve Hunegs

Steve Hunegs was named Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) in November of 2006. Hunegs has a long association with the JCRC. He served on the Board of Directors from 1993 to 2002 and served as Board President from 1998 to 2000. Read more about Steve Hunegs.

Don’t Overlook Syria

Posted by: Steve Hunegs Updated: August 25, 2011 - 10:29 AM

On June 2, 2011, Representative Keith Ellison spoke out against Bashar Assad and the violent repression of the Syrian democracy movement, on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.

Ellison accurately described the Assad regime as “torturing, shelling, and murdering,” its own citizens to quash peaceful demonstrations.

Ten weeks later, the torturing, shelling, and murdering continues unabated as the attacks in Hama, Latakia, and Deir el-Zor continue.  Sixteen hundred protestors have been killed by Syrian forces.

The wider Arab world has taken notice.  King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called on Assad to stop the “killing machine.”  The Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Bahrainis have recalled their respective ambassadors.  The Turkish foreign minister has now warned Assad: “Stop military operations against civilians immediately and unconditionally.”

King Abdullah has further admonished that the hope of the Arab people will not emerge from the “blood of the innocent people.”

The Syrians are a threat to the entire region and the millions of people – Christians, Muslims, and Jews – through their partnership with Iran.

The Syrians have long held Lebanon hostage with the more recent motivation of doing Tehran’s bidding through the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the shipment of thousands of increasingly powerful missiles to Hezbollah.  Syria is Iran’s alter ego allowing Tehran to establish its forward position for its genocidal campaign towards Israel.

The arc of Syrian terror extends to the upper midwest of the United States.  Terrorists trained and supplied in Syria attack American soldiers with roadside bombs.  Those attacked include Minnesota National Guard soldiers now providing convoy escort duty in Iraq.

In light of these circumstances, a letter has circulated through Congress urging President Obama to implement key sanctions set forth in the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003.  President Obama should: 

a)      prohibit United States businesses from operating in Syria;

b)      block transactions in any property in which the Government of Syria has any interest, by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

The following members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation have signed the letter: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. John Kline, Rep. Erik Paulsen, and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Presently, the international community is moving closer to concerted action – or, at least, concerted communiqués with respect to Bashar Assad’s ongoing campaign of terror against his own countrymen.  The United States in conjunction with the European Union has called for Assad to step down.

The capacity for incitement, violence, terrorism and the metastasizing of conflict is reflected in the cross-border terrorism in Eilat, Israel, of last week.  Assad, crudely, tried his own acts of provocation sending Palestinians rushing to the Golan frontier.  Now, the disintegration of Egyptian control of the Sinai led to terrorist attacks in southern Israel – and an Israeli response linked to the death of Egyptian soldiers, for which Israel has expressed regret.  Precipitated, is a diplomatic crisis with Israel, encouraged by post-Mubarak aspirants burnishing their anti-Israel credentials.  Looking to exploit the situation is Assad, who hopes reigniting the Arab-Israeli conflict will save his tottering regime.  The interconnection of events in the Middle East makes this a particularly volatile time in the region.

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