Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Robert Novak, Columnist and Israel Critic, Dies at 78

Robert Novak, the Jewish-born influential conservative columnist who often criticized Israel, has died.

Novak died Tuesday in Washington after a long struggle with brain cancer. He was 78.

Writing a syndicated column with the late Rowland Evans, Novak worked sources deep inside government and more than once broke news that helped shift the outcome of an election.

The column’s revelation in 1976 that a high-ranking Ford administration official said that Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe was preferable to the nationalism that might otherwise have ensued eventually doomed Gerald Ford’s prospects of retaining the presidency.

Novak ran a running battle with pro-Israel groups, claiming they were unduly influential in Washington and that Israel was principally to blame for the exodus of Palestinian Christians.

He did not identify as Jewish and late in life converted to Roman Catholicism. Novak celebrated his conversion in interviews, but in other writings excoriated Jews in public service who were not shy about their faith.

Novak’s career sputtered because of his involvement in the Bush administration’s retaliatory leaking in 2003 of the name of Valerie Plame, the CIA operative who was married to Joseph Wilson, a prominent Iraq war critic.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.