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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Is Valerie Plame Jewish?

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Rob Eshman
ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email him at [email protected]. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism and @RobEshman.

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The new Sean Penn/Naomi Watts movie “Fair Game” is a dramatic retelling of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.  Now we all know Plame as the one-time CIA agent whom Bush administration officials outed as a way to get back at her husband, Iraq War whistleblower Joseph C. Wilson.  But how’s this for outing #2:  Plame one-quarter Jewish.  That’s right, Plame is as Jewish as Harrison Ford.  (Which, by the way, was Jewish enough to get you rounded up in Nazi Germany).

As she reveals in her book Fair Game, Plame’s paternal great-grandfather was a rabbi who emigrated from Ukraine; the original family surname was “Plamevotski.” 

His son, her Jewish grandfather, Samuel Plame, Jr., married a non-Jewish descendent of President Andrew Jackson.  The family sat shiva for him, and Valerie’s father, Sam Plame III, raised his daughter as a Protestant.  In 2003, when the scandal broke, Leon, a relative from the Plamevotski side of the family, made contact with Valerie, and that spring Valerie and Joe celebrated their first seder with family.

Plame revealed her Jewish roots here in LA in an incident that we like to call, L’Affair Plame, Part Deux.  The statuesque, brilliant ex-spy was invited by a woman’s division of the local Jewish Federation to speak at a high-end fundraiser.  At the last minute, her invite was rescinded.  One Federation donor, a Democratic party stalwart, suspected that political pressure was to blame, and told Federation leaders she wouldn’t attend the luncheon, and would revoke her substantial gift.  Plame was re-invited (we’re not certain whether she re-accepted), though the donor refused to make her gift.

In a letter to the donor. Plame explained her Jewish roots, and expressed her appreciation for the solidarity.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m going to assume the seder scene didn’t make the final cut.

Even though, you know, Sean Penn is Jewish..

 

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