(May 7, 2018 / Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.) Hubert Humphrey’s nickname was “The Happy Warrior.”
The vice president, presidential candidate and longtime senator from Minnesota was given the moniker by other politicians who were taken by his consistently positive and upbeat manner, and his earnest determination to make the world a better place.
Humphrey’s accomplishments as a legislator have rarely been equaled. He was the originator of the Peace Corps concept, an early promoter in the Senate of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and of Medicare, and a central figure in the history of civil-rights law. Of equal import to him was America’s commitment to Israel.
Humphrey’s support for Jewish causes and his opposition to anti-Semitism was longstanding. It dated back to his youthful tenure as Minneapolis’s liberal but anti-Communist mayor. The city had been labeled the most anti-Semitic in the country, and Humphrey responded by proposing legislation outlawing discrimination. When that was defeated in the city council, he led a campaign in which, as a commentator noted: “Blacks and Jews walked side by side with Yankee housewives and Scandinavian farmers’ sons to check out discriminatory practices in specific areas—offices, factories, schools and churches.”
In the Senate, and then as Lyndon Johnson’s vice president, he was a passionate friend of the Jewish state. After the Yom Kippur War, he fought for aid to Israel so that it could replenish its depleted supply of arms. Two years later, he spoke out strongly against the assertion by the United Nations that Zionism is racism, observing “the charge of racism against Israel is so manifestly absurd one’s first reaction is not even to dignify the charge with substantive response.”
In October 1977, he worked to derail plans to force Israel to negotiate with the PLO, pointing out that Arab leaders were barely offering promises of non-belligerence while Israel was being asked to yield territory necessary for her self-defense.
Humphrey was a consistent and reliable supporter of Israel, and he visited often, maintaining close relationships with nearly all of its most important leaders, including former prime ministers Golda Meir and Menachem Begin.
Humphrey’s view of the “tiny democratic nation” of Israel was that America “must declare without embarrassment and without apology, that Israel has earned a special relationship.”