Top Israeli officals deny they endorsed Obama

By Yaakov Katz and Nathan Guttman, October 7, 2008

Two former leading Israeli security officials say they were duped into taking part in a video ad supporting United States Senator Barack Obama's campaign for president that has been widely circulated on the internet.

Uzi Dayan, a former deputy chief of staff of the IDF and former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy were among eight Israeli ex-security officials interviewed for the short film released by the Jewish Council for Education and Research.

"This was a lie and a deception since I never expressed support for Obama or for John McCain," Mr Dayan told the JC. "I was told this was a movie about the issues the next president will have to deal with and that concern Israel. I responded accordingly without taking any side politically."

Israelis, Mr Dayan added, have no business interfering in the US elections just like Americans should not interfere in the Israeli political process. He said that the film's producer assured him that an apology would be published.

The eight-minute video was produced by the JCER, which according to its website supports Mr Obama's candidacy and was "created to develop and disseminate information to voters in the United States around issues of concern to the Jewish community".

The JCER is also behind the Great Schlep, a video featuring TV star Sarah Silverman encouraging Jewish youth to visit their grandparents in Florida and persuade them to vote for Mr Obama.

In the video, the senior Israeli officials are portrayed as supporting Mr Obama's declared policy of engagement with Iran. Mr Dayan said that his position was the exact opposite.

"They cut out half of what I said making it seem like I support dialogue with Iran," he explained. "In reality, I am against a dialogue since I think it will be misused by Iran."

Mr Halevy, the former Mossad chief, also appeared in the video to support the Democratic candidate but later said that he too had been misled into believing that the interview was part of a documentary dealing with challenges the next president will face in the Middle East.

Facing mounting criticism from several of the participants in the video clip, creators released a statement Monday making clear they will be willing to "work with the producers" in order to address concerns raised by some of those interviewed.

However, they rejected claims that the former officials were misled in any way or were unaware of the nature of the project.

"The Israeli producers have assured us that all participants were fully informed of the nature of the project," said Mik Moore, co-executive director of the Jewish Council on Education and Research (JCER), which is behind the production of the video clip.

Moore added: "Neither the film, nor any of our subsequent remarks imply that those interviewed are endorsing Obama's candidacy."



Last updated: 11:31am, October 7 2008