“I am deeply saddened by the passing of John McCain, a great American patriot and a great supporter of Israel,” Netanyahu stated.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Longtime Republican Senator John McCain, 81, died late Saturday night just over a year after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. On Friday, his family announced that he would stop all medical treatment due the progression of the disease and to his advanced age.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the top political echelon in Israel in mourning the Vietnam War hero as a steadfast friend of Israel.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of John McCain, a great American patriot and a great supporter of Israel. 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,” he said in statement Sunday morning.
President Reuven Rivlin called McCain “a great leader, a defender of his people, a man of strong values.”
It was those values that inspired him to stand by Israel throughout his career, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) stressed, lamenting that “the pro-Israel community has lost a stalwart friend.”
“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. As chairman and longtime member of the Armed Services Committee, Senator McCain consistently worked to ensure that Israel had the critical resources to defend herself. In times of crisis, his eloquent voice could always be counted on to speak out in solidarity with the Jewish state,” AIPAC stated.
McCain advocated for pressuring Iran in any way possible to prevent its acquisition of nuclear weapons. In his failed run against Barak Obama for the presidency in 2008, he excoriated the Democrats for wanting to make a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, and he voted against it.
On this issue, as well as his conviction to strengthen the US-Israel relationship and to take a strong stand against the forces of radical Islam – which he believed endangered not only the Jewish state, but also America – he was in total agreement with President Donald Trump. On other policies, such as healthcare, the environment and outlawing torture, he bucked his party line, earning the wrath of the president on several occasions.
Trump paid his respects to McCain upon hearing news of his death, tweeting, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
After spending five and a half years in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp where the torture he underwent affected him throughout his life, McCain caught the political bug and served his home state of Arizona for three years in the House of Representatives before taking the Senate seat of an earlier failed presidential contender, Barry Goldwater. Although he did not reach the very top, he did gain the chairmanship of the powerful Armed Services Committee after the Republicans took the Senate in 2014.
Asked by a CNN interviewer, after his diagnosis, how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said: “He served his country, and not always right — made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors — but served his country, and, I hope we could add, honorably.”