NY State Senator Storobin (l) with an Israeli general, center, and the senator’s chief of staff (r)
New York state senator David Storobin’s office responded today to criticism over the senator carrying a weapon and wearing an IDF uniform in the occupied Golan Heights, on the Syrian border.
Storobin aide Steven Stites emailed:
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 claim from Storobin’s office seems to have no basis in fact. Israeli journalist Joseph Dana was just on the Syrian border and says:
This is all insane. I have no idea what area he is talking about in fact. I mean, I was just there. Five meters from the border and everything was very calm. Of course, the other side of the border was being shelled. There were Israeli Jews and Druze all around, watching what was happening over in Syria.
This guy seems to be talking about a different place entirely.
I contacted Stites for more information and he says the IDF advised Storobin to carry a weapon and wear an Israeli military uniform. Stites wrote in an email:
They were urged to do so as a matter of safety. As to whether it’s a requirement, I’m not sure, though that’s the impression I got. I can say that if I was told to do something like that for my own safety, I’d do it — wouldn’t you?
We will follow up to confirm this with the IDF.