‘Staunch Supporter of Peace,’ ‘Friend of Israel,’ ‘Mensch’: U.S. Jews Mourn Sen. Carl Levin

The veteran Democratic lawmaker from Michigan was lauded by colleagues – including his nephew, a Congressman from the same state – and Jewish and Israel-oriented groups for his decency, bipartisan alliances and support for peace and security for Israel and its neighbors

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. asks a question of a witness during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, in 2013.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. asks a question of a witness during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, in 2013.Credit: Susan Walsh,AP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – Over the weekend, Jewish lawmakers and organizations in the United States remembered the late Sen. Carl Levin, who died last week at 87. The Michigan Democrat, and former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, served as senator from 1979 to 2015.

The senator’s nephew, Rep. Andy Levin, Democrat from Michigan – whose father is the former Rep. Sander (Sandy) Levin, also a Democrat from the same state – posted an extensive twitter thread paying tribute to his uncle’s relationship with his father, describing his late relative as the personification of integrity and someone who put public good above self-interest, treating Detroit autoworkers with the same dignity as foreign leaders.

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“In the end, these two Jewish boys from Detroit, these grandsons of immigrants each served 36 years in Congress, 32 of them together, becoming by far the longest co-serving siblings in the 232-year history of this place,” Rep. Levin said.

The pro-Israel left-wing J Street organization said Carl Levin would be remembered for his commitment to the people of Michigan as well as for his “passionate belief in the power of diplomacy, his razor sharp wit and intelligence, and his pursuit of truth and justice, even when not politically convenient.”

Americans for Peace Now described him as “a staunch supporter of peace and security for Israel and its neighbors,” while the American Jewish Committee called Levin a “champion of democratic values and American global leadership, and a strong supporter of America’s defense and the defense of our allies.”

The Democratic Majority for Israel said Levin “distinguished himself as a man of principal and integrity, a champion for Michigan and for everyday Americans, adding that he “regularly and rightly described himself as a ‘friend of Israel.’”

The Jewish Democratic Council said Levin “defined what it means to be a mensch” and added that “he was committed to forming a more perfect union for all Americans.” Sen. Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, echoed this sentiment, saying the senator had been “a living embodiment of the word ‘mensch.’ He showed that kindness is not weakness, and that you can be powerful while being decent, in fact that’s the only way to serve.”

For his part Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said Levin “gave public service a good name. Whether it was holding powerful special interests accountable, giving every American the chance to get ahead, or building principled bipartisan alliances across the aisle, he represented what doing the people’s business is all about.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen, Democrat of Nevada, similarly described the veteran lawmaker as “a champion for civil rights, justice, and the people of Michigan,” while Rep. Elissa Slotkin – from Levin’s home state – noted that he “led an amazing life, and set the gold standard for hard-working, decent Midwestern leadership.”

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