Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Charlie Wilson (He of His War) Dies

Congressman, played by Hanks, was staunchly pro-Israel

Print Email

Charlie Wilson, the Texas congressman made famous by the book and then movie Charlie Wilson’s War, died yesterday at 76. A Democrat who was nonetheless to the right of most Republicans on foreign and defense issues, Wilson will always be most known for his tireless, one-man efforts—documented in the Mike Nichols-directed, Aaron Sorkin-penned film—to persuade the U.S. Congress to fund the radical Islamist mujahedeen who were resisting Soviet rule in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Wilson’s work here had a more-than-negligible impact in terms of hastening the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War; it also produced the historical irony (which Wilson was concerned about before almost anyone else) of U.S. funding in the 1980s of Osama bin Laden and some of his friends.

But today, Wilson may also be remembered as one of the best friends Israel ever had in the U.S. Congress. “I think that there were no Jews in his constituency, but he was a true friend,” said former Israeli diplomat Zvi Rafiah, referring to the east Texas district Wilson represented. “His support for Israel was based on his belief that we are a brave people, a sort of David to Goliath.” It was also based on his anti-Soviet hawkishness, and his belief that Israel was a crucial strategic Cold War ally. “Of special importance to the Jewish community was his staunch support for Israel,” the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement yesterday.

Rafiah—who is a prominent character in the movie; he’s the Israeli with ties to the arms industry there that Wilson and the CIA guy visit in Jerusalem—recalled that Wilson was the only congressman to request a briefing at the Israeli Embassy on the Yom Kippur War during its earliest, darkest days. “At the moment a ceasefire was declared, he immediately came to visit Israel and he came many times afterward,” Rafiah said. “Israel owes him a great deal.”

Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman Linked to Foreign Intrigue, Dies at 76 [NYT]
Ex-Congressman and ‘Friend of Israel’ Dies at 76 [Haaretz]
Ex-Rep. Charlie Wilson Dies at 76 [JTA]

Print Email
2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Charlie Wilson (He of His War) Dies

Congressman, played by Hanks, was staunchly pro-Israel

More on Tablet:

A Tale of Three Twitter Feeds: Hamas Tweets in Arabic, English, and Hebrew

By Aaron Magid — Analysis of the social-media messaging of Hamas’ military wing reveals distinct voices for the West, the Arab Middle East, and Israel