I once had the privilege of going on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel hosted by a wonderful fellow named David Ifshin. David and I disagreed about a lot of things on that trip, not the least about the impact a Clinton presidency would have on the Democratic party. This trip was somewhere in the years leading up to the 1992 presidential race and my dad was still considering a run himself, probably part of the reason David invited me on the trip. He was keen to have Democrats (well, anyone, really) understand what life was like in Israel, what the challenges were, what the diversity of political opinion on the ground there really was like.
That trip taught me a lot. It preceded by a few months the first intifada, and, as such, it was probably one of the most peaceful periods Israel has seen. Still, I learned a little of what living in fear of terror was like. The tension was palpable and unforgettable. After 9/11 I saw a shadow of that tension in our domestic response to being attacked.
I think of David now and then. He has since died of cancer, but his spirit lives on and I am sure thousands of people understand the situation in Israel and the Middle East better thanks to his work. Today I found a story about David and John McCain that made me miss him all over again. I wish McCain had friends like David around now to help him remember the danger of spreading hate.
[Update: photo changed to one from the trip I described.]