Alexander Haig, former US secretary of state, four-star general, top adviser to three US presidents, and 1988 Republican president nominee, died on Saturday from complications from an infection, he was 85. It was said that Haig

“always had a special feeling for Israel.”

“I always had the impression that he considered himself a friend of Israel and understood its geo-security predicament as we moved through the years,”

said Daniel Mariaschin, the executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International.

Haig held close relationships with a number of senior Israeli political and military figures officials, including Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin.

In 1998, Haig testified in an affidavit as part of Ariel Sharon’s libel suit against Haaretz and its columnist Uzi Benziman.

Benziman wrote that in 1982, the then-defense minister Sharon had deceived Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who had only approved a plan to send IDF troops 40 km. north of the Lebanese border.

Haig gave testimony that Begin told him in October 1981 that the army had begun plans for an incursion into Lebanon and that the troops would reach approaches to Beirut, much more than 40 km. from Israel.

Haig once called Israel

“America’s largest aircraft carrier which never could be sunk.”

According to historian Yehuda Avner, who served on the staffs of many prime ministers, Haig was also known on occasion to be annoyed by Israeli policies.

Avner said in a Jerusalem Post column that following the surprise annexation of the Golan in 1981, Haig, serving as secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, proposed temporarily suspending the strategic cooperation agreement between the two allies.

Later, Haig became a firm believer in Israel as a powerful player in the war on Islamic terrorism. In 2001, he told the Jerusalem Post that it might not be a bad thing for Israel to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

“If the Israelis do launch a preemptive strike [on Iran], it may be saving the world a lot of trouble.”

Daniel Mariaschin remembers him in such sentiments:

“He was truly a man apart…A great military leader and a major public servant. There are few people today who can say that they have served their country as soldiers and in civilian life. He was a prime example of an American who was able to do both in his career, and his death is a great loss.”