By Stimson, Andrew | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September/October 2011 | Go to article overview
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Stimson, Andrew, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hyman H. Bookbinder, 95, a Washington lobbyist who represented the American Jewish Committee (AJC), died July 21 in Bethesda, MD, from complications related to dementia. Widely regarded as the doyen of Jewish representatives on Capitol Hill, he regularly testified before Congress, published op-ed articles in The New York Times and Washington Post, appeared on public affairs television shows, and personally briefed legislators.

Bookbinder began his career in Washington as a lobbyist for the AFL-CIO, later working in President Kennedy's Commerce Department. He was a key aide in President Johnson's war on poverty, and served as director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Foundation. He also co-authored the book Through Different Eyes, a collection of debates between himself and former U.S. Sen. James G. Abourezk (D-SD), founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Motivated by the loss of 80 relatives in the European Holocaust, Bookbinder worked on such Jewish issues as U.S. foreign aid to Israel and the planning of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. He was also heavily involved in the 1960's civil rights movement, participating in the 1963 March on Washington, and joining Coretta Scott King and others in the Capitol Gallery when the Senate voted to establish a holiday in Martin Luther King Jr.'s honor in 1983.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, 73, a career diplomat who served in the Vatican's Secretariat of State, died July 27 in Baltimore, MD. His postings included serving as the apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, and as papal ambassador to the United States since 2005.

Born in Sogliano al Rubicone, Italy, Pietro Sambi was ordained a priest in 1964. He joined the Vatican diplomatic service in 1969, and served in Cameroon, Cuba, Algeria and Nicaragua. After being appointed Vatican ambassador to Israel and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem in 1998, he became an outspoken advocate for peace and was respected by both Palestinians and Israelis. The archbishop famously criticized the building of Israel's apartheid wall as "a shame to humanity," stating, "this region requires bridges, not walls."

Sambi was heavily involved in planning Pope John Paul II's historic visit to the Holy Land in 2000. During Israel's 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity he proposed that Israel allow the 200 Palestinians to be escorted to Gaza.

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