WASHINGTON - Senator Daniel Inouye, former chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Appropriations, a staunch supporter of Israel and the Senate's most senior member passed away Tuesday at the age of 88.
For more than 50 years Inouye served the American public, originally as Hawaii's first congressman, and then as its senator, where he attained the position of the highest ranking Asian American in Washington and third in line for the Presidency in case of presidential incapacity.
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Israel is greatly indebted to the Hawaiian senator who for years stood by its side. Inouye's latest achievement was to successfully push for funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system, which earned its keep during Operation Pillar of Defense.
Oren: 'The State of Israel grieves with you' (Photo: Reuters)
The Pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC published a message mourning Inouye's passing, who it described as "an extraordinary American patriot and hero (who) deeply understood the importance of the US-Israel relationship, and as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, worked tirelessly and effectively to ensure that America’s ally, Israel, had the necessary resources to defend her people. He will be missed by all who appreciated his many decades of leadership in strengthening the ties between America and Israel."
An immense historic debt
Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren responded upon hearing the news of Inouye's passing, saying: "When he was still a soldier, recovering from the loss of an arm in combat, Senator Inouye learned about the Holocaust and began a lifelong attachment to the Jewish people and, later, to Israel. His dedication to Israel’s security was unswerving."
Oren noted thr senator's important role in respect to Israel's security: "Our people owe him an immense historic debt. The Iron Dome system that recently intercepted hundreds of terrorist rockets aimed at our homes stands as enduring proof of his commitment to the defense of the Jewish State."
In a statement intended for Inouye's family, Oren informed them "that the State of Israel grieves with you."
During his many years on Capitol Hill, Inouye served as Hawaiian-born Barak Obama's formal representative. Obama called Inouye a "true American hero", noting "his incredible bravery during World War II - including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor."
Inouye was considered a brave and stalwart fighter of corruption. He was not afraid to harshly criticize President Nixon during the Watergate scandal nor President Regan during the Iran-Contra affair, in which he played a key role in both resulting congressional investigations.