Monday, August 31, 2009
Ted Kennedy: Zionist Puppet?
Peres mourns loss of Ted Kennedy, 'a great friend of Israel'
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
President Shimon Peres paid homage on Thursday to the late Senator Edward Kennedy as "a great friend of the state of Israel."
"He had a strong and original voice that was heard and respected all over the world," Peres said of Kennedy. "He was totally independent in his thinking and in his way of expressing things."
Kennedy died at age 77 on Tuesday night following a battle with cancer.
During the senator's first visit to Israel, Peres said he was impressed at Kennedy's interest in the country's health insurance system. "He saw already at that time that health issues were going to be central ones for the American people," Peres said.
"We listened to him as a world leader because he was great on all issues of our time and our generation," Peres said. "It is a real loss to the American people. It is also a painful loss for us."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday also mourned the loss of Kennedy. "Ted had been a friend for the last 30 years," he said in a statement. "He was one of the greatest patriots to arise from the American nation, a special person and a profound friend to Israel and to the Jewish People. He will be sorely missed."
U.S. Jews on Wednesday expressed sorrow over Kennedy's passing.
"Senator Kennedy's leadership on issues of voting reform, religious freedom, civil rights, hate crime protections and immigration reform was instrumental," said Abraham, H. Foxman, ADL National Director, and Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair, in a statement.
"He fought against anti-Semitism, racism, prejudice and bigotry of all kinds. He was a staunch supporter of Israel and an outspoken advocate for Soviet Jews," they continued.
AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, also issued a statement Wednesday, saying it joins all Americans in mourning the longtime senator's passing.
"During his more than four decades in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Kennedy consistently supported American assistance to Israel, particularly during the Jewish State's most trying times, in the wake of the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War," the AIPAC statement read.
"He led the fight against U.S. arms sales to Israel's enemies, spoke out forcefully against the Arab League boycott of Israel and was a fierce critic of the United Nations' isolation of the Jewish state; he urged his colleagues to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital, and warned of the dangers of global terrorism."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also expressed his condolences Tuesday, calling Kennedy a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people.
He added that Kennedy protected human rights, and was the son of a distinguished family who stood by Israel, even in difficult times, during his many years of service in the Senate.
Kennedy reflected the deep ties shared between Israel and the U.S., Lieberman said.
Kennedy, a major figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America's most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, died late Tuesday.
"Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts)," the Kennedy family said in a statement.
One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history - a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker - Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.
Kennedy will lie in repose for two days at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, and a memorial service is scheduled there Friday night. Kennedy's funeral was scheduled for Saturday morning at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, followed by his burial Saturday afternoon with his brothers at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington.
A White House official said U.S. President Barack Obama would deliver a eulogy at Saturday's funeral. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Kennedy family had not yet made an announcement.
Obama said on Wednesday he was heartbroken to hear of the death of Kennedy, a key backer of his presidential candidacy.
"I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the presidency," said Obama, who is expected to speak at the funeral on Saturday. "And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as president from his encouragement and wisdom."
Kennedy's endorsement last year was seen as pivotal in Obama's winning of the Democratic presidential nomination, and many saw it as the passing of the political torch to a new generation.
"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the family statement added.