Sorry, Jeb Bush Is Not The Savior Of The Jews
On the plus side, he never said 'Molotov'
Jeb! Bush got caught stretching the truth just a teensy bit on his campaign website, claiming that he helped to organize a secret mission that saved thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the early ’80s. It's a heartwarming story of compassion and international diplomacy that rescued virtually all members of an oppressed minority group and brought them to safety in Israel. And it all really happened, except that Jeb Bush is fibbing about the size of the role he played. Doesn't this guy know that there are fact-checkers out there?
So here's the claim, in a recent campaign blog post:
In the 1980's thousands of members of the Jewish community had fled their homeland due to famine for a refugee camp in Sudan. Jeb, hearing of the conditions in the camp and the persecution these Jews were suffering, suggested to Reagan-Bush officials that the United States had a duty to support a massive airlift. The resulting effort, Operation Moses, made history when Israeli planes, with American support, brought these Jews to the homeland of the Jewish people, the State of Israel.
Wow, if it hadn't been for Jeb, who heard of their plight and convinced his dad and his dad's boss to do something, all those Ethiopian Jews would have been in a fix! This Jeb Bush is quite the mensch, and you'd think that his brave actions to save thousands of lives would be something he'd make a bigger deal of. After all, if Scott Walker's claim to being simpatico with The Jews is that he lights "a menorah candle" and gave his son a Hebrew-y name, then surely Jeb's role as the Deliverer of the Ethiopian Jews ought to count for more than that? Molotov! Cue the Schindler's List violins for Jeb and give that man a medal.
There's only one small problem with Jeb's campaign narrative: It didn't happen that way at all, as Stephanie Mencimer details in Mother Jones. Jeb Bush was a baby Miami real-estate developer 1n 1984 when Operation Moses was cooked up by Israeli intelligence operatives and an American diplomat in Sudan. The Israelis chartered planes to fly about 8,000 Ethiopian Jews from refugee camps in Sudan to Israel, an effort that came to a sudden end in January 1985 when the Sudanese government shut it down, worried about how helping Jews would look to the country's Arab allies.
It was only after the abrupt end of Operation Moses that Jeb got involved, in a small way, in helping some 900 remaining Ethiopian Jews get out of Sudan. As American Jews and supporters of Israel lobbied the Reagan-Bush administration to renew the refugee flights, California businessman Phil Blazer called a real estate developer friend in Florida to reach out to Jeb and find out if Jeb could get Blazer a meeting with the vice president, aka "Dad." Jeb made a couple calls and set up a meeting between Blazer and the elder Bush shortly before the VP was set to travel to Sudan to talk about the refugees:
Blazer presented the vice president with a book about the US government's refusal to rescue European Jews during World War II. Blazer recalls that the vice president was deeply moved by the plight of the Ethiopians. The day before the vice president left for Khartoum, he sent Blazer a note saying, "I really want to help."
And then the Daddy VP actually did help, convincing the Sudanese government to release the remaining Jewish refugees, who were flown to Israel by U.S. Air Force transports. Which he might well have done even without his least favorite son saying, "Hey, dad, can I ask a favor?"
So yes, Jeb did a good thing. But instead of being the Idea Guy who called the vice president's attention to the plight of the Ethiopian refugees, he really only facilitated a meeting about an effort that was already being pushed by many other people and likely would have succeeded even if Jeb hadn't arranged that meeting between his buddy and his pops. Jeb wasn't so much Moses as the Third Pharisee from the Left -- almost a nonspeaking role -- but hey, it's good enough for a campaign blog that depicts him as a key player. If only he'd had Bill O'Reilly there to document his heroism! Now we're even starting to doubt that he invented the internet, too.
And whatever you do, don't get Jeb started on how he and his brother brought democracy to Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.