'Great Friend of Israel': Netanyahu Extends Condolences to Rush Limbaugh's Family

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Rush Limbaugh in 2019
Rush Limbaugh in 2019Credit: Leah Millis / Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended his condolences to Rush Limbaugh's family on Twitter on Thursday morning.  

"I send my heartfelt condolences to the family of Rush Limbaugh. He was a great friend of Israel and he stood by us through thick and thin, always firm, never wavering. We shall miss him dearly," Netanyahu wrote.

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Credit: Benjamin Netanyahu

Provocative and polarizing U.S. talk radio luminary Rush Limbaugh, a leading voice on the American political right since the 1980s who boosted, and was honored by, former President Donald Trump, died on Wednesday at age 70 after suffering from lung cancer.

Limbaugh, who pioneered the American media phenomenon of conservative talk radio and became an enthusiastic combatant in the U.S. culture wars, had announced in February 2020 that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Limbaugh's appeal and the success of his top-rated radio show arose from his brash and colorful style, his delight in baiting liberals and Democrats and his promotion of conservative and Republican causes and politicians. His radio show became nationally syndicated in 1988 and quickly built a large and committed following, making him wealthy in the process.

Trump, a former reality TV personality with a showman's instincts who pursued right-wing populism during four years in the White House, awarded Limbaugh the highest U.S. civilian honor - the Presidential Medal of Freedom - during his 2020 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Limbaugh had experienced a variety of medical problems over the years, including a loss of hearing reversed by a cochlear implant, as well as an addiction to prescription painkillers that landed him in rehab in 2003.

Limbaugh espoused an unflinchingly populist brand of conservatism during a daily show broadcast on more than 600 radio stations across the United States. He railed against left-wing causes from global warming to healthcare reform as he helped shape the Republican Party's agenda in the media and mobilize its grass-roots supporters.

He ridiculed mainstream news outlets and relished the controversies often sparked by his on-air commentary. Detractors like liberal former Senator Al Franken - a former comedian who wrote a book titled "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations" - criticized him as a divisive figure who distorted facts.

Still, Limbaugh's success helped spawn a new class of right-wing pundits on radio, television and the internet, among them Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Alex Jones.

Limbaugh called his followers "ditto heads." He coined the term "femi-Nazis" to disparage women's rights activists. Limbaugh in 2012 called a law student who spoke to a congressional hearing about birth control a "slut," causing some sponsors to pull their advertising from his show.

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