On Aug. 25, the world lost a war hero, a public servant, a maverick and a true friend of Israel. Sen. John McCain, who devoted 60 years of service to the United States, died at the age of 81 from brain cancer.
While much has been written about Sen. McCain’s extraordinary life, we would also like to remember his unwavering support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and his unique commitment to bipartisanship.
As chairman and longtime member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. McCain dedicated himself to ensuring Israel has the resources to defend itself—by itself—against the mounting threats on its borders. Time and again, AIPAC turned to Sen. McCain to work with members from across the political spectrum to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship.
“Throughout his congressional career Senator McCain stood with Israel because throughout his life he stood up for America's allies and our shared democratic values,” AIPAC said in a statement following the senator’s passing. “In times of crisis, his eloquent voice could always be counted on to speak out in solidarity with the Jewish state. The pro-Israel community has lost a stalwart friend and our country has lost one of her bravest heroes.”
“Sen. John McCain was our nation’s hero, our community’s champion, and my friend. His years of leadership on Armed Services have been invaluable to Israel’s safety and security,” said AIPAC National Board Member Erika Neuberg. “He had a special affinity for AIPAC, not only because we shared a commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, but because he respected our principled, policy-oriented, and bipartisan approach to engaging in the political process.”
Throughout his years in Congress, Sen. McCain traveled to Israel many times. Known as the “three amigos,” Sen. McCain often traveled to Israel with his two close friends—Sens. Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. During his frequent trips to Israel, Sen. McCain often met with the families of Israeli MIAs and POWs.
“One of John's favorite cities in the world was Jerusalem,” said now-former Sen. Lieberman. “I want to imagine that there is going to be a beautiful home waiting for him there with a balcony from which he can contemplate the shining city and hopefully inspire us here on earth to conduct ourselves with just some of the patriotism, principles and courage that characterize his magnificent life of service to America and to so many noble causes greater than himself.”
Understanding the importance of bipartisanship, Sen. McCain consistently worked across party lines on critical legislation. Leading the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. McCain worked tirelessly to ensure that Israel’s defense requirements were met in a bipartisan fashion. This included funding for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation, for lifesaving systems like Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow. “[The United States] must remain diligent on maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” said Sen. McCain at AIPAC’s Policy Conference in 1987. “We must maintain the necessary level of economic and military assistance to Israel. We must not forget that it is in America’s best interest to do so.”
While Sen. McCain brought together Democrats and Republicans in the United States, Israelis from across the political spectrum also mourned his loss, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israeli Leader of the Opposition Tzipi Livni, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid and many others.
“I will always treasure the constant friendship he showed to the people of Israel and to me personally. His support for Israel never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom. The State of Israel salutes John McCain," said Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“He loved Israel and believed in its righteousness and always supported its security. Israel owes him a big thanks. I had the privilege of working with him and will always remember the rare person he was,” added Opposition Leader Livni.
From a war hero to a maverick senator, Sen. McCain embodied the American spirit and truly served his country. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and mother. May his memory be a blessing.
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