America’s organized Jewish community has long been united in its abhorrence of the dictatorship ruling Syria. Yet it has been notably hesitant and, at times, muted in reacting to the large-scale chemical weapons attack allegedly carried out by loyalists of Syria’s president, Bashar Assad.

Despite the community’s strong opposition to any use of nonconventional weapons, Jewish activists have sat on the sidelines of the intense debate, provoked by shocking footage showing scores of men, women and children apparently suffering from nerve gas poisoning in Syria.

“The Jewish community is cautious,” acknowledged Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Foxman said that he himself supports an American military move in response to the use of chemical weapons. But his organization, like most other Jewish groups, refrained from making public statements on the issue. “There is a sensitivity of not jumping ahead of the administration,” Foxman said, tying this sensitivity to “the Jewish community’s experience of being falsely accused of things it hasn’t done.”

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