American Jewish Leaders Pay Tribute to Richard Holbrooke

Legendary U.S. diplomat, who brokered the accord that ended the war in Bosnia, died at the age of 69.

American Jewish leaders paid tribute Tuesday to veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who died on Monday at the age of 69.

Holbrooke, who was born of Jewish parents, brokered the accord that ended the war in Bosnia and served as U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman issued a statement on Tuesday saying the ADL is "deeply saddened by the death of Richard Holbrooke, one of America's most distinguished diplomats."

"On a number of occasions, Mr. Holbrooke addressed ADL audiences and always impressed us with his incomparable knowledge of issues and eagerness for practical, workable solutions to international problems.

He was proud of his Jewish identity and he was a good friend of the state of Israel. His death is a loss to the world, to America, and to the Jewish people," the statement read.

The Jewish Week quoted David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, as saying that Holbrooke was "instrumental in helping correct Israel's anomalous status as the only UN member state ineligible to vie for a seat on the Security Council."

U.S. Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) was also quoted by The Jewish Week as saying "Richard Holbrooke was a giant of diplomacy and a trusted voice for me and many other Members of Congress who valued his counsel. Our nation owes him a debt of gratitude for his many years of service."

Holbrooke, whose government career spanned five decades and ranged from being a junior diplomat in South Vietnam to serving as the U.S. ambassador to Germany and at the United Nations, died after surgery to repair a tear in his aorta.

He fell ill on Friday during a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton and was taken to a Washington hospital for emergency treatment. He underwent hours of surgery to try to save his life.

"Richard Holbrooke served the country he loved for nearly half a century, representing the United States in far-flung war zones and high-level peace talks, always with distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination," Clinton said in a statement.

"He was the consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America's interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances."