John McCain III passed away on Saturday at the age of 81 after battling brain cancer.
Before he passed away, McCain made it clear that President Trump, who he criticized sharply, would be persona non grata at his funeral. McCain, a lifelong Republican, was highly critical of President Trump. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, both rivals of McCain in his lifetime, were asked to give eulogies. Former Vice President Joe Biden will also eulogize McCain.
Despite being snubbed, President Trump tweeted his condolences.
My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2018
McCain visited Israel several times, the first in the late 1970’s. In 2016, he criticized a UN resolution against the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) December 23, 2016
That resolution passed in a UN General Assembly vote after former President Obama did not it.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made a statement about McCain’s passing.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of John McCain, a great American patriot and a great supporter of Israel. I will always treasure the constant friendship he showed to the people of Israel and to me personally. His support for Israel never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom. The State of Israel salutes John McCain.”
President Reuven Rivlin also commented.
“Today we are paying our last respects to Senator John McCain and we are separated from a man and a leader with strong values, a defender and a fighter for his people and a true friend of the State of Israel. We send our sincere condolences to the family and to the American people.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein released a statement praising McCain.
“John McCain was an American hero, and a unique person. We will always remember him as a great friend of Israel. May his memory be blessed.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett also praised the senator.
“John McCain was a great American patriot and a great friend of the State of Israel. He supported and loved the Jewish state, and we will never forget him. May he rest in peace.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked eulogized McCain on Twitter.
John McCain was a true patriot and a true friend of Israel. may he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/tBtCDUG24K
— איילת שקד (@Ayelet__Shaked) August 26, 2018
“He loved his land with all his might and he recognized Israel’s challenges. Over 36 years of public service in the House of Representatives and Senate, Israeli governments knew they always had a friend in him,” she wrote on Twitter.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman described his last meeting with McCain.
“Senator John McCain, who died overnight, was one of Israel’s greatest friends. An American hero who fought in Vietnam and fell into captivity. In one of our recent meetings in Washington he showed me a picture of his time in captivity and said, ‘Despite the terrible suffering, I never doubted my obligation to the values of freedom and justice. McCain will be sorely missed by all of us. May his memory be blessed.”
Both McCain’s father and grandfather were four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy so McCain was upholding a family tradition when he graduated United States Naval Academy in 1958. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While McCain was on a bombing mission over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He refused a preferential release and remained a prisoner of war until 1973.
In 1982, McCain was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served two terms. He entered the Senate in 1987 and was reelected five times, the last time in 2016.
In 2000, he lost in the Republican presidential primaries to George W. Bush. In 2008, he was the Republican nominee for president but lost to Barack Obama. He subsequently became a strong critic of President Obama’s foreign policies.
In 2017, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.