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Was I kidnapped by Palestinians, or Israelis?

Will you indulge me with a story I'd like to tell?

From November 1971 through Passover 1972 I worked on Kibbutz Or HaNer in Israel (interestingly enough, Or HaNer is the "Sister City" to the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, something I didn't know at the time).

In April 1972 I travelled to Lebanon, then Syria. One day I took a bus to the border with Jordan, a small dusty town on the Syria/Jordan border named Daraa. Believe it or not I did this because of the Drug War President Nixon had started the year before. I wanted to enjoy a little leftover Lebanese hashish, I thought it imprudent to do so in Damascus, so I travelled with a friend to Daraa.

As I was hitchhiking back from Daraa to Damascus I was accosted by a small gang of about 30 small children, curious in the extreme as to this bearded stranger standing by the side of the road. Eventually an adult appeared and offered me a cup of tea, which I gratefully accepted, hoping the urchin crowd would dissipate.

When I was served the tea I uttered the only Arabic word I knew, shukraan (thank you).

With that little word I convinced my hosts (who turned out to be Palestinians driven out of Jordan by then King Hussein) I spoke perfect Arabic and was an Israeli spy. Four hours later, after intense interrogation, being yelled at in Arabic, having maps thrown at me and fists pounded on the table, I was released, as I could prove with my bus ticket (a tiny scrap of paper, a wonder I still had it in my pocket) that I had started the day in Damascus, not Amman. 

And all this while I was enjoying the pleasures of that tiny piece of Lebanese hashish from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon.

Seven days later, as I was passing from Lebanon to Jericho, one of the first to do so since the Six-Day War in 1967, I was thrown in jail by the Israelis and accused of smuggling hashish. I was entirely innocent - one of my travelling mates had a brand new never used glass pipe in his backpack. All of us were released later that day.

Three days later I attempted to travel from Jerusalem back to the Jericho border on Shabatt, only to miss the sunset deadline by only a minute or two. Not wanting to go back to Jerusalem I decided to simply walk into the countryside and camp.

In the morning I was spotted by an Israeli border patrol, arrested, thrown in the Jericho jail and accused of being an Arab spy. They tossed me in a cell, but didn't lock the door. After an hour of boredom I simply walked out, and over to the Jordan side of the river.

That, I can say, was an interesting week in 1972.

But why do you care? What does this have to do with my campaign for sheriff?

Only this - my opponent, in his entire life, has only worked for the Linn County Sheriffs Department. For 36 years.

What do you think - is that enough experience, or is it important to have the kind of experiences I have had? 

Which, in addition to being accused of spying for Israel and some unnamed Arab country, include 2 years of law enforcement experience, 25 years as CEO of a business employing 300 people (Frontier Co-op), and 10 years of non-profit experience in Guatemala. Studying Chinese in Beijing. Touring Cuba and North Korea. Hiking the Appalachian Trail start to finish (2100 miles). And a whole lot more.

I think my experience, particularly my 25 years as CEO of a company employing 300 people (compared to only 167 people in the sheriff's department) and with a $40 million budget (compared to only a $22 million budget in the sheriff's office), makes me the most qualified candidate for the office.

If you agree - I'd appreciate your vote on Tuesday. And if you disagree, well, at least you will now have an interesting story to tell someone who asks why.

The time is now. The job is ours. We can do it.

I need your vote on November 8th.




Rick Stewart

Vote Smart - Vote for the Future - Vote Rick Stewart for Sheriff