Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his personal sadness and that of many others on Sunday at the passing of a great writer and political commentator, Charles Krauthammer. Netanyahu, who knew him personally, spoke about his friend at the start of the weekly government cabinet meeting.
“Several days ago Charles Krauthammer passed away. Charles Krauthammer was among the greatest commentators and writers, and among the greatest supporters that State of Israel has ever had. He was a brilliant student of medicine, from Harvard University medical school. He jumped into the pool, which did not have enough water, and struck his neck on the bottom. He immediately understood what had happened to him and prayed that nobody should draw him out of the water. But they drew him out.
Since then he received psychoanalytic care and was confined to a wheelchair with a severe disability. He eventually became a speech writer for Walter Mondale and from there he went to the New Republic weekly, which was and still is a very important weekly for expressing political and cultural views in the US.
I met him there in 1982 when I came to serve as an Israeli diplomat at the embassy in Washington. I met him and a very deep friendship sprang up between us. Eventually Charles became known as one of America’s great writers. He won a Pulitzer Prize and many other prizes as well. Moreover, he won a huge crowd of admirers for his writings which never pulled any punches, were always original, and always reflected the great depth of his learning and his ability to focus on the main thing, which many did not see.
He defended Israel in a way that is difficult to describe – methodically, with great creativity and with very great daring. He did not care what was written about him and what was said about him. He also did not toady. He simply wrote the truth, the deepest truth.
During the Israeli Embassy in Washington’s celebrations for Israel’s 70th year, 70 people were chosen, American Jews, who had contributed more than others and more than anything to the State of Israel. Charles Krauthammer was one of them and rightly so.
I read the letter that he published two weeks before his death, when his time was running out and he had no more hope. He wrote in his noble and brave way. The Charles that I knew never spoke about his physical disability and there was no malice in him. He had a great sharpness, a completeness that was without peer and deep Jewish sources that he was always very proud of and which he drew on.
When I read his letter, I sent him one. His son Daniel, read my letter to him and he managed to listen to it and respond before he lost consciousness. He had two words: “Goodbye brother.”
Remember Charles Krauthammer. I will never forget him. The State of Israel and the Jewish people owe him an extraordinary debt of gratitude. We will remember him.”