Prominent Jewish congressman, Israel supporter dead at 94

Benjamin Gilman, a Republican who served in House of Representatives for 30 years, passes away.

David Rosenberg ,

Benjamin Gilman
Benjamin Gilman

Benjamin Gilman, an American Jewish attorney with a prolific political career, passed away on Saturday at the age of 94.

Gilman, a lifelong Republican from the Hudson Valley, served roughly 40 years in various government positions.

Beginning as Assistant Attorney General of New York in 1953, Gilman opened a private law practice in the 1950s, only to return to public service in 1967, when he won a seat on the New York State Assembly, where he represented the 95th district for six years.

In 1972, Gilman was elected to his first of 15 consecutive terms in the US House of Representatives, serving there from 1973 until 2003.

For six years Gilman, a vocal critic of the Clinton administration and a strong backer of Israel, chaired the powerful House Committee on International Relations.

In 1996, Gilman decried efforts by President Clinton to push Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, then in his first term, to offer concessions to PLO leader and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

“There are voices who insist that it is incumbent upon the state of Israel to make all the sacrifices for peace,” Gilman and Senator Jesse Helms wrote to Netanyahu. “Do not count us among such people.”

Gilman passed away in the Wappingers Falls Veterans Affairs hospital following years of complications stemming from hip surgery. He is survived by his wife, Georgia, and three of his five children.