Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said on Wednesday that President George H.W. Bush’s contribution to the U.S.-Israel relationship will “forever be remembered,” as he attended the funeral of the late president alongside the Jewish state’s envoy in Washington, Ron Dermer, The Algemeiner reported.
“Former President George H.W. Bush was a true friend of Israel,” Kahlon tweeted. “His huge contribution to the strong relationship between our countries will forever be remembered. Our heart goes out to the American people, who have lost a great leader.”
President Bush, who had previously served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA and then as vice president to Ronald Reagan, served one term as president, from 1989 to 1993.
Soon after news broke that President Bush had died Friday at age 94, tributes and remembrances started arriving from Israeli leaders, who praised him for helping to save Jews in countries where they were being persecuted, including the Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Syria.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the president for his efforts to boost Israeli security and for helping Jews immigrate from the Soviet Union. Israel would remember Bush’s “commitment to Israel’s security, his decisive victory over Saddam Hussein, his important contribution to the liberation of Soviet Jewry, his support for the rescue of Ethiopian Jewry, as well as his efforts to advance peace in the Middle East in the Madrid Peace Conference,” Netanyahu said.
While vice president, Bush had supported efforts by then-Secretary of State, George Shultz, to pressure the Soviet Union to free Russian Jews, who had been imprisoned or abused for wanting to immigrate to Israel.
President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement praising President Bush for his help in bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel and for his “determination to ensure the Arab world recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.” He said the president was a man “who knew to distinguish between good and evil and how to build strong regional coalitions against cruel tyrants.”
In the spring of 1991, Israel launched Operation Solomon, a covert operation to airlift over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 36 hours. President Bush’s intervention via a personal letter to Ethiopia’s dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, is widely considered as the reason for the regime’s cooperation. President Bush also intervened with Syrian dictator, Hafez Al Assad, to allow Jewish Syrian women to leave the country for America.
In December 1991, the Bush administration submitted an 18-word resolution calling on the UN General Assembly to revoke its notorious “Zionism is racism” resolution. The American resolution passed with 111 votes in favor.
Bush died at his home in Houston on November 30, six months after the death of his wife of over 70 years Barbara.
[Photo: GPO ]