Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A Right-Wing Smear

Here's an amazing example of scumbaggery from New York Daily News columnist Zev Chafets:

This was back in the mid-'80s, soon after Kerry had been elected to the Senate. The Boston branch of the Anti-Defamation League organized an educational trip to Israel for him. He was accompanied by a delegation of Massachusetts Jewish activists and Democratic campaign contributors.

The government of Israel takes such senatorial visits seriously. A high level of hospitality was laid on. The senator wanted to visit a military air base, and the ministry of defense was only too happy to comply. It even assigned him a reserve military escort officer: me.

Kerry got the standard tour of the fighter jets. Then, unexpectedly, he asked for permission to fly one. I was against it - in the army you are responsible for whatever you sign out, and I had signed out a U.S. senator - but it wasn't my call. The base commander suited Kerry up and took him for a run over Israel.

In Florida on Monday, Kerry invoked that experience as a pro-Israel credential. "I've had the privilege of ... learning firsthand how tight that security is, how close the borders are, how tiny and fragile [Israel] is," he told his audience.

Here's another story from that trip that Kerry didn't tell: He and his delegation were taken, as all visiting dignitaries are, to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Kerry toured the exhibits, asked questions and emerged somber but dry-eyed.

"Sen. [Al] Gore was here recently," one of his Israeli hosts said. "This museum brought him to tears."

There was probably a bit of malice in this remark; everyone knew that Kerry and Gore were rivals. Kerry responded by asking for a private moment. He went off to the side and stood alone. When he returned, according to people who were there, he had tears running down his cheeks.

A particularly vicious piece of unsubstantiated gossip, provided by that unimpeachable source, "people who were there." Perhaps Chafets could name the eyewitnesses to this alleged ham-handed display of insincere emotion.

Or perhaps he can't.

Here's another account of Kerry's trip, which contains numerous first-hand accounts of people convinced of Kerry's sincerity, and no accusations of pandering.

Kerry and Gore were both elected to the Senate in 1984, they certainly weren't rivals for any political office in 1986. And yet "everyone," including Kerry's Israeli hosts, supposedly knew all about this bitter rivalry. And why would someone seeking to win the favor of a United States Senator bait him with a malicious remark?

Chafets is no better than Matt Drudge or Bill Safire.

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