Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, described U.S. Rep. Robert T.
Matsui (D-Calif), who died Jan. 1 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., as a friend of Israel and the American Jewish community.
Matsui, 63, represented the Sacramento area in the House of Representatives for 26 years,
and "worked tirelessly to make sure that all members of the House understood the security needs of
Israel, and the policy concerns of the American Jewish community," Forman said in a Jan. 4 statement from Washington
"As a true leader for Israel in Congress, he felt it was critical for non-Jewish members of the House to join their Jewish colleagues in vocally supporting Israel and Jewish concerns wherever possible; true to form, he sponsored a 2002 Israel Solidarity Resolution before the House of Representatives, and more recently he pressed our government to more strongly defend Israel's security fence before the International Court of Justice in the Hague," Forman said.
"Representative Matsui was a true leader who immersed himself deeply in the difficult policy debates of the day, such as social security reform. He was an honest, humble, and decent man who led by quiet example. He will be sorely missed across Capitol Hill, by Democrats and Republicans alike."
Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif) reported that "there was much sadness as the
109th Congress convened. Bob was a decent, reasonable individual with a
soft spirit. He had a deep understanding of the work we had before us in
Congress. The people of his district and our country were well served
through his leadership."
Davis, who represents San Diego, said she
"looked to Bob as a mentor and consulted him on many occasions and will
always remember his balance and decency."
The congresswoman also
commented on the death the same day as Matsui of former U.S. Rep. Shirley
Chisholm, a New Yorker who held the honor of being the first Black woman ever
elected to Congress and who was briefly a Democratic candidate for the
presidency in 1972.
"Shirley was a champion for all of us, not just women or
African-Americans," Davis commented. She demonstrated a daring in her run
for President, stepping forward at a time that was out of the ordinary.
She was a brave woman. She wished to be remembered as someone who had guts, and
I think she succeeded."
Matsui died of a form of bone marrow cancer known as myelodysplastic disorder.
Chisholm, 80, died near Daytona Beach while trying to recuperate from a series
of small strokes.