On Tuesday night, President Obama made the case to the American public that Congress should authorize airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's military, in response to Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons. But as Obama was honing his argument Monday, Russia came forward with a surprise proposal whereby Assad would surrender his vast stockpile of non-conventional weapons, and by doing so, avert a U.S.-led military intervention.
The outlines of the plan were welcomed by the international community, and on Friday night Secretary of State John Kerry remained in Geneva, where he and his Russian counterpart were working to hammer out the specifics of a plan to secure, and destroy, Assad's chemical arsenal.
On Capitol Hill, however, America's leading pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), was making a different set of calculations.
Beginning Monday, the advocacy group had dispatched more than 200 activists to Washington, where they urged members of Congress to pass resolutions in both the House and the Senate authorizing the airstrikes on Syria. According to an AIPAC official who spoke to The Times of Israel, the group's representatives secured more than 300 meetings, which the official described as "cordial" and "challenging." A spokesman for AIPAC declined to comment for this story.
But practically as soon as it began, AIPAC's widely publicized push for the authorization vote in Congress drew criticism from the same country it aims to support -- Israel. "In case you were wondering, AIPAC is not Israel" blared the headline of an editorial Monday in the prominent Israeli newspaper Haaretz. AIPAC "is not authorized to express Israeli policy," the editorial said. "Israelis and Israeli decision-makers should give up any pretense of intervening" in American military decisions.