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Missouri Jewish Candidate Blasts Rival for Staying in Israel After Tornado

— A Jewish Republican candidate for governor in Missouri has launched an attack ad accusing his Democratic opponent of ignoring the state after a devastating tornado by staying “in luxury” overseas — in Israel.

The ad, aired last week in Joplin by Eric Greitens, features images of homes laid flat by a tornado that hit Joplin and Duquesne on May 22, 2011. A voiceover refers to his Democratic rival, state Attorney General Chris Koster, as a “career politician” who instead of attending to the damage and victims was staying “overseas, at one of the swankiest hotels in the world.” The commercial then shows tourist images of Israel.

“Koster didn’t rush back to help,” the ad continues, according to The Joplin Globe. “No, Koster hung out in luxury for three days, finally swinging through Joplin by private jet to take credit for recovery efforts in his own press conference. Typical career politician Chris Koster — he only shows up when it helps himself.”

Koster was in Israel on the day the tornado hit attending a five-day trip sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General, the American Israel Friendship League and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation of 10 attorneys general met with Israeli officials to learn about the country’s approach to crime prevention.

Koster’s campaign has called the ad “disgusting.” A spokesman for Koster said the tornado struck in what was the middle of the night in Israel. Although Koster stayed in Israel for two more days, visiting holy sites, briefings and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, he directed investigators to monitor price gouging in Joplin, according to the spokesman.

Upon returning to Missouri, Koster taped a public service announcement about avoiding scammers and toured Joplin the next day.

“Eric Greitens should apologize to the people of Joplin for trying to make one of the most devastating tornadoes in history into a political football and take down this disgusting ad,” Koster’s spokesman said in a statement. “This makes it clear: Eric is willing to do or say anything as long as it helps Eric.”

Greitens is an author, Rhodes scholar and a decorated former Navy SEAL who has received backing from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which calls him an “RJC leader.”

Asked by The Joplin Globe whether he came to Joplin to help with tornado relief, Greitens replied that he was the chief executive of a nonprofit that supported Team Rubicon, a volunteer disaster relief organization, whose members came to Joplin.

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