Two top retired Israeli security officials say they had no idea that interviews they did this summer would be used for a pro-Barack Obama video.
Former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy and retired Gen. Uzi Dayan were among seven retired Israeli security officials who appear in an eight-minute video endorsing Barack Obama, which was released Monday by the Jewish Council for Education and Research. But they told Israeli newspapers that they were interviewed about what issues the next American president will have to deal with in the Middle East, and had no idea their comments would be used to back a candidate.
“It wasn’t about the campaign, it was about the political and security issues of the Middle East that the next president should be involved in,” Dayan told The Jerusalem Post “Nothing was said about Obama or McCain.”
He added that “I don’t want other people to interfere in my elections, and I must not interfere with the elections in the United States.”
Halevy told the Post that he was complimentary to both candidates in the video, and said it would be inappropriate for an Israeli to advise an American for whom to vote.
JCER co-executive director Mik Moore said Monday that his organization is willing to work with the film’s producers to address the concerns raised by Halevy and Dayan, but had not yet spoken to them.
“If there are folks that are unhappy, we will work with them to come to some conclusion,” he said. But he added that “the Israeli producers have assured us that all participants were fully informed of the nature of the project. While JCER has endorsed Barack Obama for president, neither the film, nor any of our subsequent remarks imply that those interviewed are endorsing Obama’s candidacy.”
Moore argued that the video is devoted mostly to analysis of the security situation and the candidates’ policies in dealing with it. He pointed out that just one of the seven interviewed actually states he would vote for Obama. That is retired Brig. Gen. Giora Inbar, who says, “I personally would vote for Obama to help the state of Israel.”
Here’s JCER’s full statement on the video controversy:
JCER RESPONDS TO REPORTED CONTROVERSY OVER VIDEO
NEW YORK- Mik Moore, co-executive director of the Jewish Council on Education and Research (JCER), released the following statement today with regard to the film launched by the group this weekend, featuring seven members of Israel’s security establishment [ www.jcer.info/film ]:
“In the film released this weekend by the Jewish Council on Education and Research, retired members of Israel’s security establishment express support for Senator Barack Obama or his policies and provide relevant analysis.
The purpose of the film is to educate Jewish voters about support within Israel’s security establishment for policies Obama has advanced regarding Israel. JCER is a non-profit organization created to develop and disseminate information to voters in the United States regarding issues of concern to the Jewish community.
The Israeli producers have assured us that all participants were fully informed of the nature of the project. While JCER has endorsed Barack Obama for President, neither the film, nor any of our subsequent remarks imply that those interviewed are endorsing Obama’s candidacy. This film is not an advertisement and will not be used as an advertisement. We are willing to work with the film’s producers to address any new concerns now being raised by any of the participants. “