US Rep Tom Lantos was one of the leaders in advancing Israel-US relations in the US Congress.
– Eulogy by FM Livni

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The Foreign Ministry expresses its deep sorrow over the passing of US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos. Lantos was one of the leaders in advancing Israel-US relations in the US Congress. Space does not permit the listing of all of his initiatives and actions on this issue during his long years of public service. Love of Israel, a commitment to advancing human rights and enshrining the memory of the Holocaust were the principal causes to which Tom Lantos dedicated his public and political activity over the years.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that the State of Israel owes a great debt to Lantos, who made the advancement of Israel-US relations and activity on behalf of the Jewish people his life’s work. From Jerusalem, the State of Israel sends its sincerest condolences to the family of Tom Lantos, may his memory be blessed.

Eulogy by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni at the Capitol memorial service
Washington, D.C. – 14 February 2008

Dear Annette,
Katrina and Annette and the entire Lantos family, our thoughts and prayers are with you,
Speaker of the House Pelosi,
My friend and colleague, Secretary Rice,
Secretary General Ban,
Congressman, Senators, Ladies and Gentleman,

The free world has lost a great leader, and Israel has lost a great friend.

I have come hear today to bow my here; to join with the entire United States in paying respects, and to join with the Lantos family in mourning a great loss. I am grateful for the privilege to say a few words from the heart, for a man who had a special place in his heart for the State of Israel.

Tom Lantos represents in our eyes – as a man – what we aspire to represent as a nation.

In the Holocaust, Tom lost his family and all that was dear to him, but he never abandoned his values or lost his self-respect. From the ashes of the Shoah, arose a warrior and stood up tall. He fought from this great institution and in the name of this great country – for a better world; a world that would represent the values that he so believed in.

For Tom, standing up for the right causes transcended borders, and crossed oceans – it was about the values defined by a person’s inner compass. And Tom’s inner compass always pointed in the same direction – because Congressman Tom Lantos was a proud American and a sworn friend of Israel and these two things were, for him, two parts of the same complete whole.

Those who knew him – knew that his commitment to the United States, its flag and its values was complete and absolute just as his love and concern for Israel was complete and absolute. In his eyes – and rightly so – his love for both the United States and for Israel was driven by the same values – two flags but the same inner compass.

Since his passing, I have been thinking a great deal of Tom’s last visit to Israel. We started with a tour of the southern city of Sderot – a city that is targeted daily by terror from Gaza. There, Tom touched the hearts of Sderot’s traumatized citizens, asking each one – with the love and sensitivity of a family member – about their family, their life, and their daily struggle with the threat of terror.

We ended the visit in the northern part of Israel, looking out over Lebanon. There, he asked the military commanders – with the vision of a leader and the concern of a father – about the situation on the ground and Israel’s ability to cope with a future threat. And we promised him that we would protect the security of Israel and lives of its citizens.

And in between, Tom and I watched a film together and we cried together. Sitting at an Israeli air force base, in Ramat David, we saw a film of Israeli pilots flying American made F16 planes over the tracks, the gates and the death camp of Auschwitz. We saw the planes cut through the skies of Auschwitz – those same skies that absorbed the smoke of the crematoria; those same skies that did not hear the roar of the fighter planes in time, were hearing them now.
     
And in my eyes, the Star of David, that was transformed from a yellow Star of David on the torn clothing of a victim into a shining blue Star of David emblazoned on an American air force jet and flown by an Israeli fighter pilot – that shining Star is Tom Lantos. 

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

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