We should all mourn the loss last week of Congressman Donald Payne, a great friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
He is most often remembered as a champion of human rights in Africa, putting himself in harm’s way in Somalia and working to end the killing in Darfur. But what also should be noted was that he worked to provide services for the poor in his congressional District 10, getting funding for the naturally occurring retirement community project of Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey. None of these activities were intended to enhance his election or fill his campaign coffers with additional funds. He was a man concerned about the betterment of society and he consistently worked for a better America.
In my many office meetings with him over a 16-year period, we discussed the Israeli-Palestinian situation. He fervently believed in a two-state solution with a democratic Israel sitting side by side with a peaceful democratic Palestinian state. He could not merely rubber-stamp each position of the government of the State of Israel but rather followed his conscience and supported the two-state solution even when it might have been politically more correct to have voted otherwise.
He visited the State of Israel many times and believed that a democratic Israel was the best example for the Middle East.
I will miss him.