Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the senior Jewish member of the U.S. Senate, announced Thursday he will not seek a seventh term next year.
As a longtime member and now chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee he has played a major role in shaping American national security policy for more than a third of a century. He also has been an important leader in building and strengthening close U.S.-Israeli security cooperation.
He has also been a leading progressive voice in the Senate and prominent advocate on the broad domestic issue agenda of the Jewish community. He is a pro-Israel shtarker but has been criticized by some right wing Jews for not being sufficiently supportive of Likud governments, which he felt were not trying hard enough to advance the cause of peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors.
In 1988 Levin and 29 Senate colleagues wrote a letter criticizing then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and his Likud party for what they felt were efforts to obstruct efforts to reach a peace settlement with the Arabs.
Levin and Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minnesota) organized the letter expressing dismay over Shamir’s statement that “this expression of territory for peace is not accepted by me.” The Senate letter said Israel should not be expected to withdraw from all the territory captured in 1967, but ”peace negotiations have little chance of success if the Israeli Government’s position rules out territorial compromise.”
Levin, 78, is the longest serving senator in Michigan history. His older brother, Sander, 81, is the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee and currently in his 16th term.
This is the second time in less than a month that a senior Jewish senator has decided to retire. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), the oldest member of the Senate, announced in February he would not run for a sixth term. There are 11 Jewish senators, 10 Democrats and one Independent, in the current Congress.
Senator Levin released a statement saying, “I can best serve my state and my nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us … in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.”
Click here to read his full statement.