אִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלָיִם, תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither – Psalms 137:5
— by David Bedein
As a journalist in Israel for the past 26 years, I have met hundreds of politicians from around the world who visit Israel and laud the Jewish state with superlatives of support.
There is only one visiting politician whom I ever met who had tears in his eyes as he discussed his connection to Israel.
That was Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democrat from Hawaii who just passed away.
When I first interviewed Inouye in 1987, I held out my right hand to shake his hand, not realizing that he did not have an right arm.
Although I felt embarrassed, he went on to reassure me, with a genuine good spirit, that his loss of a right arm in the war against Germany in World War II was nothing like the losses suffered by the Jewish people to the Nazis.
The Senator went on to relate that in the 20 months that Inouye spent in US Army hospitals recovering from the loss of his right arm and other wounds, he learned about the Jewish death camps from a fellow officer in the hospital and that he spent his convalescence reading up on Jewish history, and, when Israel was formed in 1948, he became a registered Israeli bond salesman — without commission.
Looking at my kippah, I will never forget how the Senator smiled and told me that he spent a few years considering conversion to Judaism, but that he did not want to make his Methodist mother uncomfortable.
This was a man whose support for Israel and the Jewish people was not deep and geunine.
Daniel Inouye will be mourned in Jerusalem.
David Bedein is the director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research.
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