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NY State Senator's unbelievable excuse for posing in IDF uniform

Last week, my mother went bird-watching in the north. She called me on the way back – her party was traveling down Mt. Hermon and along the Syrian border – asking about nearby restaurants. Little did I know that they were crossing a dangerous war zone, where hostile snipers are constantly looking for plainclothes visitors to shoot down.

Or, at least this is what you are supposed to think if you are buying the stories coming out of the office of one Republican New York Senator.

Following a visit to Israel, the office of New York State Senator David Storobin distributed this picture, in which the senator is posing in IDF uniforms, with a gun, on the Syrian border. Next to him, looking like a dropout from basic training in a B-action movie, is the senator’s chief of staff.

NY State Senator David Storobin posing with IDF gun and uniform during a visit to Israel (photo: PR)

Mondoweiss posted the picture and the press release, causing a mini-storm. Then came the following explanation from the office of Senator Storobin, in the form of a mass email written by Storobin aide Steven Stites (h/t Adam Horowitz):

The ginned-up controversy about the Senator’s photo on the Syrian border is quite amusing, especially to folks who have been to Israel.

As Israelis know all too well, the Syrian border is a hostile area. Visitors there are required to don a uniform and carry a gun. Even members of the Knesset do so. There are snipers on the other side. If they see an unarmed person not in uniform, they may assume it’s a leader of some kind, and that person could be a target.

This is probably the most ridiculous bullshit I have read in a long time (note the we-know-Israel-and-army-stuff-better-than-you-leftist! tone). I don’t know of any place in Israel where “visitors are required to don a uniform and carry a gun,” let alone the Golan Heights and the Syrian border. In fact, in the last month or so, the Israeli media reported a new trend: families on vacation – kids and all – that travel to the border area to see and hear echoes of the fighting in Syria.

If New Yorkers want to vote for a guy that likes to make a fool out of himself – posing with a gun like a kid in an amusement park and then having someone come up with the strangest, most absurd explanation – that’s their own business. I am more worried by the Israeli army’s willingness to play along with the adolescence fantasies of American politicians.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Doesn’t visiting a foreign country and donning its army’s uniform while carrying a weapon constitute some sort of treason according to US law?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Philos

      If I wasn’t Jewish and an American I’d be an anti-Semite. The American Jewish community mystifies me. “Right on Israel, left on everything else” they say. Frankly, I’m developing almost bigoted levels of hostility to American, Canadian and British Jews I encounter. Without even speaking to them I presume they harbor traitorous notions about their home countries, are totally racist and Islamophobic and think they’re “more Jewish” than the “savage” Israeli locals. I know this is wrong-headed and bigoted but I can’t help it. I read about 160 Jewish kids coming from America, Britain, France and Canada to go to combat units in the IDF and I think “traitors, traitors, Israel shouldn’t be taking traitors into the ranks of its military”….

      Reply to Comment
    3. Philos

      I also think that if they’re so stuff they should join their own military’s to go off to Afghanistan where the locals shoot back rather than the “cowardly” way out of being an occupier. Units like the paratroopers and certain other battalions of the other regiments are kept out of the West Bank because the command is aware of what the occupation does to the moral fabric of their troops and the cowardice lording over unarmed people induces. I too was once a coward in olive green

      Reply to Comment
    4. If “the Syrian border is a hostile area”, why do 20,000 Israeli settlers (including children) live on occupied Syrian land beyond 1967 borders that Israel considers “indefensible”?

      Not only does Israel use Jewish settler families as human shields by subsidising settlements deep inside enemy territory (West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights), it also endangers American visitors by disguising them as military combatants in war zones.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mikey

      @Philos

      Storobin is a grandstanding chickenhawk who had the opportunity to make aliyah when he was younger and prove his credentials in the IDF. He comes from a family of ex-Soviet Jews who were “noshrim” and chose NYC over Israel when they had the opportunity to leave the Iron Curtain. Now he is more gung ho than the Israelis. That said, there is nothing in the least “treacherous” about an American Jew exercising the right to choose his place of residence and moving to Israel, accepting the Israeli citizenship that he is entitled to as a Jew under Israel law (holding dual citizenship is *not* illegal under US law and there are far more dual US-French citizens, dual US-Canadian citizens, dual US-British citizens, dual US-German citizens, etc, than dual US-Israeli citizens) and fulfilling the mandatory military duty requirements incumbent on Israeli citizens of army age, as Israelis. A dual US-Israeli citizen who serves in the IDF is not a traitor to the USA, as serving in the army of a country that is at war with the US and Israel not only isn’t at war but is a US ally is not a treasonous act. Moreover, such a US-Israeli dual citizen isn’t even evading any military duty in the US–there is no mandatory military service in the USA, there is in Israel.

      Do you believe that the US enact policies like the former USSR, which prevented its citizens from leaving the country and immediately stripped them of citizenship and classified them as “defectors” if they did so?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mikey, the issue is not legal but rather moral, perhaps ethical. They are not breaking the law in any way. Israel is not a formal ally of the US but even if it were, I’d view it as the same as joining a non-ally state’s army.

      When your country is engaged in a war (until recently two wars), when its military is in shortage of recruits and you join the military of a foreign state – I think everyone agrees that it raises some serious questions. Jews more than anyone should be sensitive to the legitimate (in this case) accusations of double loyalty (or singular loyalty to Israel) and their view of themselves as “different” in that what applies to other groups of the US population does not apply to them. You can go to Brooklyn on any given day and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who served in the US military yet you’ll meet quite a few who served in the IDF.

      And this is hardly a group that the US has been bad to or who oppresses them so they seek out their loyalty elsewhere.

      Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        Brooklyn natives in US military? Results of a quick search:

        Jul 20, 2011 – A Brooklyn marine Lance Cpl. Jabari Thompson, 22, was killed trying to save his comrade during a bloody clash in Afghanistan last week.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mitchell Cohen

      @Philos, unfortunately for you, obtaining Israeli citizenship, living in Israel, and serving in the IDF is NOT illegal, nor “traitorous” according to American Law. As one having done just that, I know!!!! Also, the last time I checked, Israel is considered an ALLY, rather than an ENEMY of America according to the CIA, State Department, and all the other highest echelons in America that have a say in any such matters. If this bothers you, you will have to take it up with them, NOT random posters on 972 (like myself) who must drive you insane….

      Reply to Comment
    8. Mitchell Cohen

      “When your country is engaged in a war (until recently two wars), when its military is in shortage of recruits and you join the military of a foreign state – I think everyone agrees that it raises some serious questions.” [End of Ahad Haadam]

      If the American military is in such shortage of recruits, then why is it still a voluntary military? Why do only 8% of American citizens serve in the American military? Why should this raise serious questions about American citizens serving in the IDF anymore than it does about most American 18 year olds who go to college and get on with their lives, rather than serving in the American military?

      Reply to Comment
    9. I don’t know Mitchell, but I believe if someone wants to display their patriotism they should join one’s own military, not that of a foreign state. It would be just as strange if Americans of German descent went to serve in the German army instead of their own. If this analogy does not seem appropriate to you, it is because you buy into the maxim that “Jews are different”.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Gregory

      The real tragedy here that for whatever reason this dimwit politician chose to play soldier, either because he really believes in the holy war against Islam or because he wants votes, all of us have to live in the increasingly militarized societies that this sort of cynical politics leads to. I sometimes wonder which country’s pathology is worse, the U.S. or Israel, but they certainly seem to feed off of one another. Seeing videos of price tag operations reminded this American of nothing so much as an L.A. street gang on the rampage. A scary group of people with a government tacitly supporting them. Glad I’m not a Palestinian. Must suck to be them. But then that’s the whole point isn’t it? Make life hell and maybe they will leave. Strange to see Jews acting like bullies. One thing I have come to respect about Judaism is that Jews take ideas seriously. Not a characteristic that most people associate with bullies.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Mitchell Cohen

      “It would be just as strange if Americans of German descent went to serve in the German army instead of their own. If this analogy does not seem appropriate to you, it is because you buy into the maxim that “Jews are different”.” [End of Ahad Haadam]

      If one has dual American/X citizenship and X is considered an ally of America, then there is nothing illegal or traitorous about them serving in X’s army. If X is considered an enemy of America, then that is a different story. Ninety-two percent of Americans do NOT serve a single day in the American military. A pretty high percentage to consider them being short of recruits.

      PS, my high-school friends (mostly non-Jewish) who served in the American military (in all branches) would not agree with you. They are actually the most likely to admire my having served in the IDF. Go figure!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mitchell, I think Philos is referring to Jews who volunteer to come to Israel for a period and serve in the IDF, but who don’t live in the country or even hold Israeli citizenship. I wouldn’t call this ‘traitorous’, largely because I have no time for nationalist conceptions of loyalty in the first place, but the practice is pretty unusual and I don’t think it’s replicated anywhere else in the world, with one country encouraging citizens of another to volunteer in its military on the basis of shared ethno-religious heritage. During my undergraduate years at a British university, the J Soc had flyers advertising this option up on the wall alongside the usual Taglit posters. That they would target British students as potential army recruits seemed more than a little creepy to me. There is also a separate program for non-Jews who want to ‘help’ the IDF. I agree with Noam – it smacks of adolescent fantasy.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Seymour Alexander

      I think the object of the exercise from the Israeli point of view was in fact to get the guy shot at. Israel has been desperately looking for a casus belli and what better one could there be than a YNET headline:

      “Jewish lawmaker assassinated by Iranian sniper; Netanyahu:’What is Obama waiting for?’”.

      Proof as we know for the Zionist regime is not a requirement in such cases. The press would no doubt fail to notice that he had been dressed up in an IDF uniform and had been carrying a sub-machine gun at the time of the incident.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Danny

      @Philos: “If I wasn’t Jewish and an American I’d be an anti-Semite.”
      .
      I understand your meaning here. These Republican Jews are besmirching the whole tribe with their racism and outright stupidity (just looking at that slob on the tank with his bloated ego, as if he’s saying – hey Syrians, come get some!), despite the fact that most American Jews are in fact card-carrying liberals.
      .
      One rather recent example of how Israel doesn’t really represent world Jewry at all, is in the success of American Jews at the London Olympics. Case in point is one Ali Raisman – a nice Jewish girl from Boston who danced her way to two gold medals to the tune of hava nagila. I daresay that if she had been an Israeli Olympian, not only would she have not won any medals, she would probably shame world Jewry by blaming her lack of success on anti semitism. That, of course, is the Israeli way. Thank God most American Jews do NOT subscribe to it!

      Reply to Comment
    15. A

      @Philos:”If I wasn’t Jewish and an American I’d be an anti-Semite. The American Jewish community mystifies me. “Right on Israel, left on everything else” they say. Frankly, I’m developing almost bigoted levels of hostility to American, Canadian and British Jews I encounter. Without even speaking to them I presume they harbor traitorous notions about their home countries, are totally racist and Islamophobic and think they’re “more Jewish” than the “savage” Israeli locals.”

      Philos, I don’t think being Jewish or American disqualifies you from being an anti-Semite. You’ve already demonstrated your credentials. Mazel Tov!

      Reply to Comment
    16. A

      “Ali Raisman – a nice Jewish girl from Boston who danced her way to two gold medals to the tune of hava nagila. I daresay that if she had been an Israeli Olympian, not only would she have not won any medals, she would probably shame world Jewry by blaming her lack of success on anti semitism.”

      This makes complete sense to me!

      Reply to Comment
    17. Mikey

      @Ahad Haam–

      You write: “Israel is not a formal ally of the US”
      .

      Actually, the US officially accords Israel the status of “major non-NATO ally” (a privilege it shares along with such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea as well as such esteemed company as Pakistan and Afghanistan).

      “They are not breaking the law in any way. but even if it were, I’d view it as the same as joining a non-ally state’s army.”
      .
      Even if a dual citizen American joins a non-ally state’s army, it STILL would not be treasonous unless that state is at war with the USA. If an American-born son of Fijian parents holding citizenship in both countries does a stint in the Fijian military (AFAIK, Fiji and the USA have no official alliances nor does any state of tension or hostilities exist currently between the two nations), really, what’s the problem?
      .
      “When your country is engaged in a war (until recently two wars), when its military is in shortage of recruits and you join the military of a foreign state – I think everyone agrees that it raises some serious questions.”
      .
      If that’s the case, then the US should get rid of its all-volunteer military and enact a universal draft and then American Jews will be drafted (or evade) in the same proportions as other Americans. American Jews served in the US military out of proportion to their percentage in the US population in pretty much every conflict the US was involved in up through Vietnam. Even during the Vietnam era, when many American Jews were able to secure exemptions and deferments their proportion was still quite high. American-Jewish participation in the US military only really started to drop down really low after the US abolished the draft in the 1970s, and the American military became all-volunteer, and many of its recruits signed up for training, better opportunities, etc. By this time, most American Jews tended to have a higher socioeconomic status and didn’t need that boost.
      .
      “You can go to Brooklyn on any given day and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who served in the US military yet you’ll meet quite a few who served in the IDF.”
      .
      At my small Orthodox “shtiebel” in Brooklyn (yes, I go to an Orthodox shul though I’m using the Internet on shabbat)I know six veterans of the US military. All but one is over the age of 60. One is an 88-year old Marine vet who fought at Guadalcanal, another is a Korean war vet who was a combat medic, two of them served during the Cold War era at army and air force bases stateside and in Europe in the early 1960s (didn’t see combat but the draft was still on in those days, they did their duty) another is a Vietnam vet. The Vietnam guy served in the IDF AND the US army–he came here in 1966 after completing his Israeli army service and got drafted to the US army three years later. All but one of these vets did their duty because they were drafted. The one volunteer is a 30-something newly Orthodox immigrant from the former USSR, he is still in the National Guard and has done stints in Afghanistan and Iraq. He signed up partly put of patriotism for his new country, but also in large part because he was attracted by college money, the GI Bill, veterans benefits, etc. In other words, the same reasons most people volunteer nowadays. As a newly observant Jew, he says he wouldn’t recommend to other observant Jews to volunteer for the US military short of a draft or a direct life-or-death threat to the US that required them to take up arms, but he is also positive about his experiences, though he finds it difficult to keep an observant Jewish lifestyle while on active duty.
      .
      “And this is hardly a group that the US has been bad to or who oppresses them so they seek out their loyalty elsewhere.”
      .
      Exactly so, therefore it’s no problem for an American citizen to hold dual citizenship (the US is not the former USSR which didn’t tolerate such a concept) and to serve in the military of a friendly nation if that friendly nation has a requirement that its citizens serve in its military. There are dual Greek-US citizens, dual German-US citizens, dual Turkish-US citizens as well, all those countries also have mandatory military service and I am sure there are Greek-Americans, Turkish-Americans, and German-Americans who reside in those countries who have been drafted and served in those countries’ armed forces. I would never think that an American-born son of Greek parents who serves in the Greek army while residing in his parents’ native country (where he also holds citizenship) should have his American citizenship revoked, and he wouldn’t.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Mikey, nice try conflating between Americans whose parents immigrated from another country and who keep cultural attachment to their parents’ old country to Jews who have been in the US for generations and at most can trace their origins to Poland or Russia. This is very different.

      And whether the US designates Israel as an ally or not is irrelevant. The question is why are they not being patriotic of their own country which is involved in a war and is in dire need of new recruits? Let’s admit it: the view is that the American military is for redneck gentiles and poor black people while the IDF is the Jewish military where a Jew goes to prove his bravado shooting unarmed Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Egyptian

      Check out that chubby four-eyed Tier 1 Israeli Operator on the right.

      I feel more embarrassed for that guy than I do for Senator Storobin.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Donning a uniform makes one a VALID MILITARY TARGET. The exact OPPOSITE of the senator’s bullsh*te, in fact WORSE.

      Not being “commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates” means the senator was not covered by the Laws of War or Geneva Conventions protecting the rights of belligerents

      REGULATIONS RESPECTING THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS
      OF WAR ON LAND
      SECTION I
      ON BELLIGERENTS
      CHAPTER I
      The Qualifications of Belligerents
      Article 1.

      The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following conditions:

      To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

      Seems the senator has been blinded by the possible financial support he might receive from the supporters of the illegal, immoral, Greater Israel project.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Piotr Berman

      In good old days a politician could satisfy the voters that he (or she) is bloodthirsty enough by hunting ducks or quail.

      A few days ago I have seen an exciting report on bow hunting. You shoot a deer with an arrow that has special arrowhead, with two-three blades as sharp as a surgeon blade and which open wide on impact. Then the fun starts: we go to the spot splashed with the blood of the deer and we track by watching for blood splattered leaves on the ground. Finally we reach the deer.

      Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        Sorry, premature end of the post. Could Storobin show pictures of personally bludgeoning a deer, he could go for US Senate and who knows for what else. As it is, I would demand explanations from IDF flacks: was the gun given to Sen. Storobin loaded? If yes, whose stupid idea was it? If not, the caption of the photo should be altered: Sen. Storobin poses in military costume and an unloaded gun

        Reply to Comment
    22. Watcher

      This whole Jew thing used to be a complexity. You can be illiterate of Biblical stories and prophecies but when you observe the behavior of groups actively involved in Israel that can’t trace a ancestry or ties to this land beyond 200yrs., something is very evil, wicked, going on that only righteous people, people that hate conflict and war will pray comes to an end. I don’t think these people are Jews but an element of an entity that has it’s finality in the Hellfire. Sad but keep watching these people.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Watcher

      One thing I found out, this site ain’t Youtube, but if allowed to say this, history repeats itself, not so much or as more than Jews acting a certain way amongst other cultures of non-Jews. Jews do bring a lot of things upon themselves. Being part of the solution is a great thing the Middle East is on fire and this Senator basically a traitor wants to play GI Joe in the Holy Land

      Reply to Comment
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