Humphrey, Hubert H.°
HUMPHREY, HUBERT H.°
HUMPHREY, HUBERT H. ° (1911–1978), U.S. Statesman; vice president of the United States. He was born in Wallace, South Dakota, where his father had a small drugstore. A self-made man, he supported himself during his studies at the University of Minnesota where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, but during the Great Depression returned to his home town, working in his father's store for six years to support his family.
Rejected for military service in World War ii on medical grounds, Humphrey was appointed director of the Minnesota War Productions Board. He entered politics in 1945 when he was elected Mayor of Minneapolis and established a reputation as a tough fighter in cleaning up the city. It was during this period that he formed his first intimate contacts with the Jewish community.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1949, he was chosen by President Johnson as his nominee for the vice presidency in 1964, and in 1968 was the Democratic candidate for the presidency, failing to gain election by only a small margin. Reelected to the Senate he became a member of the important Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on foreign aid.
Throughout his political career Humphrey remained a staunch friend and defender of Judaism, deepening his knowledge by study and frequent visits to Israel. He believed firmly in the importance of the state as a bastion of democracy and the most important ally of the free world in the Middle East. "The noblest of U.S. aspirations bear a striking kinship to the vision of the prophets of ancient Israel" was his constant theme.
After the Six-Day War and the three "noes" of the Arab Khartoum Conference, he was instrumental in obtaining more Phantom planes for Israel. In 1968 he published his Six Point Plan for a permanent peace in the Middle East, calling – inter alia – for the recognition of Israel by the Arab countries, secure borders, free navigation and a solution to the Arab refugee problem.
After the Yom Kippur War he was instrumental in obtaining vast military and economic aid for Israel, and was responsible for the introduction of an amendment to the bill which enabled the U.S. administration to waive up to $1.5b. for military equipment sent to Israel. He vigorously opposed the secret negotiations on the part of the United States with the plo and President Ford's reassessment policy towards Israel.
Humphrey also took a prominent part in the struggle on behalf of the rights of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel, and took up the cudgels on their behalf in personal interviews with Leonid Brezhnev in 1973 and 1974.
Among the many various distinctions granted to him for his unsparing and untiring efforts on behalf of Israel were doctorates honoris causa from Yeshiva University and the Weizmann Institute, and the opening of the School of Medicine of Ben-Gurion University in November 1974. In October 1977 he received the first Gold Medal Human Rights Award of the Pioneer Women's Organization.
Humphrey died on Jan. 13, 1978, shortly after he was visited by the prime minister of Israel during the latter's stay in Washington.
In Jan. 1979 the Hubert H. Humphrey Parkway was dedicated in Jerusalem.
[Alexander Zvielli (2nd ed.)]