(JTA) – Charles Krauthammer, a conservative champion of Israel, announced that he has weeks to live. Krauthammer, perhaps the dean of neoconservative columnists in Washington, wrote about his cancer in a post that appeared June 8 on the websites of both of his employers, Fox News Channel and The Washington Post. He said he thought he had beaten the disease. “There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly,” Krauthammer wrote.
Krauthammer, 68, has been outspoken for decades in his support of Israel, and was a lacerating critic of the Obama administration. His rejection of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was influential in galvanizing Jewish organizational opposition to the deal. He regularly made himself available for Jewish organizational events. He also was among a small but unyielding core of conservatives who opposed Donald Trump, even as he closed in on the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and then the presidency. Krauthammer cautioned against “Trump derangement syndrome” – criticizing the president even when his policies were consistent with conservative doctrine – and denounced Trump’s unfiltered rhetoric, which he called “vainglorious.” (Trump called Krauthammer an “overrated clown.”) He said Trump’s failure to unequivocally condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis whose protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, culminated in a deadly attack on a counterprotester was a “moral disgrace.”
Krauthammer, a New York native who was raised in Montreal, was a first-year medical student at Harvard when a diving accident put him in a wheelchair for life. He became a psychiatrist and first emerged in the political sphere as a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale during the Carter administration. Like many hawkish Jewish Democrats, he was soon attracted to the hard-line Cold War postures of President Ronald Reagan. He opposed the Oslo accords, primarily distrusting the renunciation of terrorism by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat – a view that seemed vindicated when Arafat embraced the second intifada.