Sen. Daniel Inouye, Friend of Jews and Israel, Dies at 88

Appreciation

Shalom, Danny: Sen. Daniel Inouye’s final word was ‘Aloha.’
getty images
Shalom, Danny: Sen. Daniel Inouye’s final word was ‘Aloha.’

By Douglas Bloomfield

Published December 18, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Israel lost one of its best friends ever to serve in the U.S. Congress with the passing of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii. The nine-term senator, who sold Israel Bonds and once considered converting to Judaism, died Monday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from respiratory complications. He was 88.

His final word was: ‘Aloha.’

Danny Inouye, a liberal Democrat, was the senior member of the U.S. Senate, the second-longest serving senator in the history of the chamber and its president pro-tempore, making him third in line to the presidency. He was also chairman of the powerful Appropriations committee, and for many years had been the chairman or top Democrat on the foreign operations and defense subcommittees, where he played a pivotal role in advancing U.S.-Israel relations.

He once told me that he sold Israel Bonds to help work his way through college, and that he had considered converting to Judaism. He joked that he didn’t convert because being Japanese and having only one arm, he had “enough tzoris.” The real reason, apparently, was the effect on his devoutly Methodist mother.

His integrity, his quiet modesty and his firm belief in bipartisan cooperation won him the admiration and trust of his Senate colleagues and all who knew him. Nowhere more than among the supporters and people of Israel, where he was affectionately nicknamed “Trumpeldor” for the one-armed early Zionist hero.

Joseph Trumpeldor, who died in the 1920 battle of Tel Hai in the Upper Galilee, had lost his left arm in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904; Inouye lost his right arm in Italy in the closing days of World War II. For his heroism, Lt. Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor, but it took 55 years to get that recognition because Japanese-American Nisei servicemen were denied appropriate recognition for their heroism at the time because of their race.

The badly injured Inouye – his arm had been amputated in a field hospital without anesthetic – was sent to recuperate in Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he became friends with two other wounded GIs who would go on to be lifelong friends and serve with him in the Senate, Bob Dole of Kansas and Philip Hart of Michigan.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.