Former Clinton counsel dies at 47

Friday, May 31, 1996 | by

Washington Jewish Week



On May 2, more than 600 people—including President Bill Clinton and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)—gathered at Ifshin's synagogue, Congregation B'nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md., to honor him.

Ifshin graduated with honors in English from Syracuse University, where he was student body president. He became active in the anti-war movement in the early 1970s. It was under those circumstances that Ifshin entered the life of McCain.

Ifshin led a group of anti-war students to the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in December, 1970 at the height of the Vietnam War. A prisoner of war in Hanoi for 5-1/2 years, McCain—while incarcerated—heard Ifshin speak on Radio Hanoi.

"What David taught me and, I suspect, what he taught a great many people, was how narrow are the differences that separate us in a society united in its regard for justice, in a country in love with liberty," McCain said.

Ifshin served as Clinton's general counsel during the 1992 presidential campaign. Although he did not follow the president to the White House, he remained an informal adviser.

"He was the most passionate person I ever met," Clinton said. "He was with me when there was almost not a campaign. It never occurred to him to quit."

Survivors include Ifshin's wife, Gail, and three children, Jacob, Benjamin and Chloe.

For individuals wishing to make donations, the David Ifshin Memorial Fund has been established at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.