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Arab, Israeli and Evangelical leaders mourn passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell – and rightfully so: He was an American hero and architect of a more peaceful Middle East

Powell, dead at 84, was crucial in liberating Kuwait, protecting Israel, protecting the Saudi kingdom, and removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power

American Evangelist Billy Graham meets with General Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney during liberation of Kuwait in January 1991. (Photo: Franklin Graham Twitter feed)

JERUSALEM—Colin Powell, an American hero and an architect of a safer and more peaceful Middle East, passed away Monday at the age of 84 from complications related to contracting the COVID-19 disease, despite the fact that he was vaccinated.

He was 84.

A four-star general, Powell was the first-ever African American to serve as U.S. national security advisor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state.

During his storied and celebrated career, Powell was instrumental in:

  • Liberating Kuwait in January 1991 in the first “Operation Desert Storm” after it had been invaded and occupied by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s military forces on Aug. 2, 1990.

  • Protecting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from possible Iraqi invasion in the summer and fall of 1990, after Saddam invaded Kuwait.

  • Protecting Israel from SCUD missile attacks during the U.S. and allied liberation of Kuwait and war with Iraq in January 1991.

  • Removing Saddam Hussein from power and liberating the nation of Iraq during the second “Operation Desert Storm” in March 2003.

Rightfully, tributes are pouring in on Twitter, Facebook and in press releases from Arab, Israeli and Evangelical leaders across the region, as well as from American leaders who knew, worked with, respected and loved Powell, such as former President George W. Bush and President Joe Biden.

The Emir of Kuwait

“His Highness the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences yesterday to [President Joe] Biden on the demise of Powell,” reported the Kuwait Times. “His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent similar cables.”

Amb. Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.

“Saddened by the news of the passing of Secretary Colin Powell, who was not only a statesman dedicated to serving his country, but a friend of the Kingdom and the region. My sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Amb. Abdulla R. Al-Khalifa, Bahraini Ambassador to the U.S.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Powell family as the world mourns a great statesman.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

“We mourn the passing of Colin Powell, a great American patriot and a great friend of Israel. His bold leadership and lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy is a legacy that will foreign inspire. May his memory be a blessing.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid

“On behalf of the State of Israel, I wish to express our condolences to the family and friends of General Colin Powell. Throughout his distinguished military and diplomatic career, General Powell was a true friend and committed partner of Israel. May his memory be for a blessing.”

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“I send my deepest condolences to the family of Colin Powell and to the American people. Colin Powell served his country with great dedication and we will always remember his friendship to the State of Israel.”

Amb. Gilad Erdan, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations

“I was sad to hear about the loss of Colin Powell, a friend and strong supporter of the State of Israel. On behalf of Israel, I express my sincerest condolences to the Powell family and the American people on the loss of a true military and foreign policy leader and statesman.”

Amb. Danny Ayalon, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.

“Saddened by the loss of Colin Powell. Whenever I met him as Israel’s Ambassador in DC, he always welcomed me with a big smile and a phrase in Yiddish. He had worked at a store owned by a Jewish family and was emotional talking about them and his appreciation of the Jewish people.”

David Aaronson, former senior advisor to the Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation

“In 1991, the IDF conducted Operation Solomon, airlifting 14,000 Ethiopian Jews in just 24 hours. Then-JCOS Chairman Powell said, ‘This is the first time people with black skin were brought from one country to another not to become slaves, but to become citizens and free.”

Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse

“Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has passed away from complications related to #COVID19. He faithfully served our nation for 60+ years. He’s pictured here with my father, Billy Graham, and Dick Cheney in 1991. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Heather Mercer, American Evangelical ministry leader based in the Middle East

“So sad to hear the news of the death of Colin Powell. I was in captivity in Taliban Afghanistan when he was Secretary of State. He took such a personal interest in our plight, supported my family during those dark days, and worked hard for our release. I will always be indebted to him, not only for his public service, but also the way his service changed my life. A life well lived. RIP Mr. Colin Powell.”

George W. Bush, former U.S. President

The Kuwait Times reported that “George W Bush described Powell as ‘an American hero, an American example, and a great American story’ when he nominated the professional soldier to be secretary of state in 2000, making him fourth in the presidential line and, up to then, the highest-ranking black U.S. public official ever.” 

“He was highly respected at home and abroad. And, most important, Colin was a family man and a friend,” the 43rd president said yesterday.

Joe Biden, President of the United States

The White House issued the following statement from President Biden:

Jill and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity, General Colin Powell.  

The son of immigrants, born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx, a graduate of the City College of New York, he rose to the highest ranks of the United States military and to advise four presidents. He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.

As a Senator, I worked closely with him when he served as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Secretary of State. Over our many years working together – even in disagreement – Colin was always someone who gave you his best and treated you with respect.

Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He was committed to our nation’s strength and security above all. Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity. From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation’s policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else—in uniform and out—and it earned him the universal respect of the American people.

Having repeatedly broken racial barriers, blazing a trail for others to follow in Federal Government service, Colin was committed throughout his life to investing in the next generation of leadership. Whether through his care for the women and men serving under his command and the diplomats he led, or through the work he shared with his wife Alma at the America’s Promise Alliance to lift up young people, or through his years leading the Eisenhower Fellowships, Colin’s leadership always included a focus on future.

Above all, Colin was my friend. Easy to share a laugh with. A trusted confidant in good and hard times. He could drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody’s business—something I learned firsthand on the race track when I was Vice President. And I am forever grateful for his support of my candidacy for president and for our shared battle for the soul of the nation. I will miss being able to call on his wisdom in the future.

Jill and I are sending all our love and strength to Alma, their children, Linda, Annemarie, and Michael, their grandchildren, and the entire Powell family.  Our nation mourns with you.

Colin Powell was a good man.

He will be remembered as one of our great Americans.

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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