Israeli generals duped into supporting Obama
'Pure and simple deceit,' says enraged Uzi Dayan of American Jewish group
that told him and other top Israeli figures they were being interviewed for
documentary on Mideast challenges and found themselves touted as Obama
The Associated Press Published: 10.06.08, 20:29 / Israel News
Three well-known Israeli security figures said Monday they were duped into
participating in an ad supporting US presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Uzi Dayan, a retired army general, and Efraim Halevy, a former Mossad chief,
were included along with six other high-ranking retired members of Israel's
security establishment in a pro-Obama film. A third official, former Mossad
agent Yossi Alpher, also said he was misled.
The three said they were unaware they were being interviewed for a political
campaign and were under the impression they were commenting on the regional
strategic affairs that will face the next US president. All insisted they
have not endorsed either US presidential candidate and their comments had
been taken out of context.
"This is pure and simple deceit," said Dayan, a former deputy military chief
of staff and national security adviser. "I never expressed support for
Obama, his approach or his opinions. I've also never expressed support for
McCain. I think that these are respectable people, but we should not
interfere in the American elections."
Schlepping for Obama
The eight-minute video, aimed at American Jews, was produced by the Jewish
Council for Education and Research. The nonprofit group supports Obama, the
Democratic candidate, but says it is not connected to his presidential
The group is also behind "The Great Schlep" - a Web site featuring Jewish
comedian Sarah Silverman encouraging young Jews to go to Florida to persuade
their grandparents to vote for Obama.
Mik Moore, a co-founder of the political action committee, said the video
was an educational film aimed at "setting the record straight" in light of
"rumors and misinformation" surrounding Obama's approach to Israel.
Unlike Republican candidate John McCain and former Democratic candidate
Hillary Clinton, Obama is a relative unknown in Israel. Also, many American
Jews have wondered if he shares the pro-Israel stances of the other
His stated willingness to speak with Israel's archenemy, Iran, has irked
many Israelis, while others have been put off by rumors that Obama - whose
middle name is Hussein - is a closet Muslim, and because his former pastor
praised Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known for anti-Semitic
Moore said the film's participants were all fully informed that the people
making the film were supportive of Obama, and the film didn't claim that
everyone in it had endorsed Obama - but he pledged to "address their
"It's a film to educate and mobilize the Jewish vote," he said. "It's not to
encourage people to vote for Obama. The purpose is to have experts on
Israeli security speak."
Deception and misrepresentation
But the video, which includes clips from Obama's recent visit to Israel,
concludes with a black screen reading: "The people who have kept Israel
alive offer you their choice."
Dayan said he agreed to be interviewed about the diplomatic challenges
facing the next US president and did not at any time express an opinion
about either candidate.
A press release promoting the film mistakenly identifies Dayan as a retired
brigadier general (he was a major general) and son of famed general Moshe
Dayan (he's his nephew).
Halevi, a former Mossad chief, is quoted as saying Obama is "very
impressive." But he added he thought McCain was also impressive, a comment
that was not included in the film.
"I was asked at the end of he interview who I support, and I said that I
didn't think it was appropriate for an Israeli citizen to give such advice
to an American voter on who should be the US president, just as I think it
is not proper that an American citizen give advice to an Israeli citizen who
should be the prime minister of Israel."
He said his last comment was not included in the film either.
Alpher was also angered by what he called "an act of deception."
"I made it very clear that I did not wish to take sides in the American
elections," he told the AP. "I never would have given the interview had I
known that they would edit my words into a film that endorsed either
candidate ... they really misrepresented the purpose of the film."
Moore said it was not his intention to distort any of the film's
participants comments in any way.
"If there are individuals who are concerned about how they were portrayed in
the film, we'll talk to them and address their concerns," he said.