WASHINGTON (Jun. 10)
In the face of opposition from U.S. senators, Jewish activists and others, Syrian representatives did not participate in either of two giant parades staged here and in New York to honor those who served in Operation Desert Storm.
A Syrian presence had been expected at Saturday’s national victory parade here, in which the Syrian flag was to be carried by an American soldier. But Syria’s ambassador, Walid al-Moualem, who was to be present in the reviewing stand, did not show up.
In New York, Mayor David Dinkins had extended an invitation to Syria and 39 other nations to part in Monday’s extravaganza, including Israel.
But when Syrian diplomats found out that Israel was participating, they apparently declined to join in the march Monday through New York’s “Canyon of Heroes.”
An Israeli delegation was not invited to the Washington parade, because Israel was not a member of the Desert Storm coalition, said Ruth Yaron, the Israeli Embassy spokeswoman.
Nevertheless, Syria apparently decided at the last moment not to show up.
A State Department official suspected that the Syrians had declined because going through with the honors “might simply have caused them more grief than it was worth.”
Last week, the Senate voted 92-6 to adopt a non-binding resolution opposing Syria’s planned participation at the Washington parade.
The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.), opposed the honors for any country on the State Department’s list of terrorist countries or nations involved in drug trafficking.
In New York, a nine-man Israel Defense Force team that had helped operate Patriot anti-missile batteries during the war joined in the ticker-tape march on Monday. It was the same contingent that marched in New York’s Salute to Israel parade on June 2.
One of the participants was Gaym Solomon, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1982 at the age of 14, and was joined by his parents five years later.
(JTA student intern Mark Frenkel in New York contributed to this report.)