Netanyahu Expresses Grief At Death Of Pat Robertson
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, said they were “deeply saddened” to learn about the death of Pat Robertson. “He was a great friend of Israel, second to none.” said the premier in a tweet.
Netanyahu added that he fondly remembers many meetings with Robertson, who died on June 8 at the age of 93, and “his warmth and steadfast friendship which stood the test of time and circumstance.”
“Over the decades, he led millions of his followers in supporting the Jewish state,” he wrote.
Nikki Haley, a Republican presidential candidate, tweeted that “Pat Robertson touched so many lives and changed so many hearts. He stood for America—and more importantly, for truth and faith. He did the Lord’s work, and we will always remember his witness.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that Robertson was “a giant of the faith,” and Franklin Graham, the son of American evangelist Billy Graham, wrote that Robertson “moved to a new address in Heaven.”
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia said in a statement that Robertson “was an inspiring Virginian and a passionate servant of the Lord, whose lifelong example leaves a legacy matched by very few.”
Robertson was a long time resident of the state of Virginia, including being born there.
David Friedman, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, tweeted that Robertson was “a brilliant orator and faith leader and an extraordinary friend of Israel and the Jewish People.” And AIPAC called Robertson “a great friend of Israel and a pioneer in the modern Christian Zionist movement.”
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews also lauded the late religious leader, “whose decades of faithful support have helped us carry out our holy work, of helping God’s people, and of building bridges of faith and understanding between Christians and Jews.”
Writing on the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network, CBN—of which he is president and CEO, and which his father founded—Gordon Robertson called his father “an extraordinary man by any standard.”
“He was an evangelist, a humanitarian, an entrepreneur, an educator, an author, a statesman, a television personality, a man of global influence and tremendous vision,” he wrote. “Perhaps most important though, he was a dearly loved father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend.”
Netanyahu’s fond remembrance of Robertson provides a profound contrast on the backdrop of accusations of antisemitism by the televangelist over the years. Robertson was known to make many statements that have provoked controversy, many centered on Jews and Judaism.
“I first learned of Pat Robertson when he said, on Rosh Hashanah, that God doesn’t hear the prayers of Jews,” said Shayna Weiss, associate director of Brandeis University’s Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, in a tweet. “I was about 10 years old, and I heard my parents talking about it at synagogue after it was front-page news. It is one of my earliest memories of antisemitism and hate.” she said further.
In 1991, Robertson published The New World Order, which became a New York Times bestseller but drew accusations of antisemitism.
Robertson was the host of “The 700 Club”, which was the flagship show of the Christian Broadcasting Network.
In a 2014 interview with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Robertson said that Jews were “polishing diamonds, not fixing cars.” (Lapin agreed with Robertson that Jews are likelier to work in finance than car repair or lawn mowing.)
In response to a 1994 report from the Anti-Defamation League that he said made a broad case for Robertson being antisemitic, Norman Podhoretz penned a Commentary essay titled “In the Matter of Pat Robertson.”
The conclusion is “inescapable that Robertson, whether knowingly or unknowingly, has subscribed to and purveyed ideas that have an old and well-established antisemitic pedigree,” Podhoretz wrote. “Yet everyone, even Robertson’s most dogged prosecutors, recognizes that there is more to the story than that. For if Robertson is an antisemite, he is a most peculiar one.”
Having thoroughly documented the positive things that Robertson said and did for Jews and Israel, Podhoretz turned to the rabbinic concept of a contaminant becoming “neutralized” at a 1-to-60 ratio, batel b’shishim. “Robertson can and should be absolved on that basis of the charge of antisemitism,” he wrote.
In response to the Commentary article, Abraham Foxman, then national director of the ADL, wrote: “The ADL made no such case. We do not believe Robertson to be antisemitic and did not argue that he is.”
“One can air concerns about troubling statements and views without accusing their source of being an antisemite,” he added. “With regard to Pat Robertson, that is precisely what the ADL’s Religious Right report did—no more, no less.”