(May 6, 2018 / Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.) Back in 2000, when Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore selected Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman to be his vice presidential running mate, Lieberman became the first Jew on a presidential ticket in American history. In that campaign—and through a distinguished career in law and politics—Lieberman, an observant Jew, never hid his commitment to Judaism or his support of Israel. In fact, his assent to the upper echelons of American life has shown there need not be a contradiction between devotion to one’s faith and public service.
Yet Lieberman, 76, has always insisted that support for Israel should be a core American principle whatever one’s religious views. Throughout his nearly quarter-century in the Senate, Lieberman worked strenuously to bolster the U.S.-Israel alliance. He felt that the bond between America and Israel was a natural one, the product of deeply shared interests and, perhaps even more importantly, deeply shared values.
Lieberman’s actions on behalf of Israel and for the cause of peace in the Middle East date back decades. In 1991, after Sen. Frank Lautenberg was refused entry to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait because his passport had been stamped in Israel, Lieberman made a point of seeking entry to Saudi Arabia, forcing the country to pause in the practice or face further diplomatic embarrassment.
And during waves of terror against Israel, he was a forceful voice within the Senate against incitement and terrorism.
In recent years, Lieberman has sounded the alarm about the dangers of a nuclear Iran, for America, Israel and the entire free world. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the U.S.-Israel alliance has been his success in pushing through critical legislation aimed at thwarting Iran by using his unique ability to bridge the partisan divide on the issue. He was capable of doing this because he was trusted by both sides—respect for his integrity and decency was a rare point of consensus among those who often agreed on little else.
Between 2009 and 2012, the senator led a legislative push to enact crippling sanctions against Iran. Previous attempts to ratchet up Iran sanctions had faltered due to partisan divisions, but in each case, it was Lieberman who deftly resolved the dispute and kept things on track. The bills passed by veto-proof bipartisan super-majorities as a direct result of his determined efforts.
Joe Lieberman’s distinguished work in support of Israel and the U.S.-Israel alliance have earned him a place as a great sar (“minister”) in the annals the Jewish people.