We will miss a tireless voice for Israel

This week, AIPAC held its annual Bay Area membership dinners. These events, staged in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Oakland and Sacramento, not only raised funds for this vital organization, but brought Jews together with supporters from local governments and the broader community in a show of unity.

AIPAC has its detractors, but we join the majority of Jews in voicing support for the venerable pro-Israel lobby.

Normally these dinners are feel-good events that instill pride in Israel and bolster the U.S.-Israel relationship. That remained true this year, though the mood was darkened due to the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai and the ever-growing threat of a nuclear Iran.

There was another reason for sadness this year. As noted from the AIPAC podium in San Francisco, with the death of Daniel Kliman two weeks ago the Bay Area lost a fierce pro-Israel advocate.

A physician, environmentalist, vegetarian, fighter for LGBT rights and in-your-face foot soldier for the pro-Israel movement, Kliman was an intense man who held deep passions.

Those passions won him admirers as well as enemies. After his body was discovered Dec. 1 at the bottom of an elevator shaft in a San Francisco office building, some suspected foul play.

So far, SFPD officials have downplayed that possibility, stating most likely this was simply a tragic accident, a contention apparently supported by forensic evidence. We will closely follow the police investigation and report what we learn.

But this much we already know: Dan Kliman was a model pro-Israel activist.

Before joining friends at the AIPAC dinner inside, he would have been on O’Farrell Street, going toe-to-toe with the anti-Israel protesters outside the San Francisco Hilton.

The man was fearless. A few years ago, he launched S.F. Voice for Israel, and whenever Women in Black or A.N.S.W.E.R. turned up to spew their hatred of Israel, Kliman and his colleagues showed up to push back. Staring down vicious anti-Israel protesters and matching their lies with truth, Kliman was an ever-present figure at rallies and counter-rallies.

As in any noble cause, when one leader falls, another rises. So it will be with S.F. Voice for Israel, which continues to defend Israel on the streets of San Francisco or anywhere the forces of hate appear.

Not every friend of Israel has what it takes to wade into a crowd of anti-Israel fanatics and take them on. It will be tough to replicate Kliman’s fierce devotion to the cause. Perhaps in death he will inspire others to fight for Israel with the same tireless ardor.

He will be sorely missed. May his memory be for a blessing.