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.
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.
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.