The loss of a giant: A tribute to Herb London

We’ll miss you, Herb. Your booming voice. Your towering presence. Your love of country.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, Dr. Herb London and Nass (photo credit: ANDREA EDELMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
Dr. Henry Kissinger, Dr. Herb London and Nass
He was my mentor and I was his protégé. Over many lunches, meetings and phone conversations over the last few years, I got to know this giant of a man who was Herb London. Herb was unlike anyone I had ever met; certainly, unlike anyone I’d met in the world of politics.
He was incredibly generous with his time and treated everyone with respect, whether that was a head of state or a young activist seeking his guidance. In fact, there were numerous young protégés like myself to whom Herb afforded his time and strategic counsel. He was the consummate gentleman and “mensch;” and his Judaism was a great source of pride to him.
What was popular meant nothing to him. He did and stood for what he believed to be right, regardless of the consequences. Herb was one of the foremost conservative intellectuals and thinkers of our time and spent decades of his life at the helm of some leading conservative institutions, including his own brainchild, the London Center for Policy Research. But before that, Herb was a professor of humanities at New York University and a founding dean of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. One cannot possibly imagine that Herb’s development of conservative views while still working in academia helped his popularity among his colleagues. But the directions the winds blew in never did matter to Herb; what was in his heart, did.
He was a man of great principle and integrity who exuded a level of authenticity that’s increasingly difficult to come by in today’s day and age. And that integrity was always on full display. Character and principles were more important to Herb than money or anything materialistic. He wore his love for Israel and Judaism on his sleeve.
World leaders would regularly request Herb’s presence for personal meetings. It was around the time of the United Nations General Assembly a few years back when President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi was in town from Cairo. Herb had been to Egypt before to meet with him and el-Sisi had requested a meeting with Herb while he was in town for the UNGA. This was a request that Herb subsequently turned down. Not out of disrespect to President el-Sisi; but rather for a meaningful and profound reason Herb explained to me when I asked him that very question.
“The meeting would’ve been on Rosh Hashanah, Josh,” he had said. “I wanted el-Sisi to understand that I am a Jew and a proud one at that.” But this sort of principled conduct was in no way limited to his encounters with the Egyptian president.
He never wavered in his commitment to the United States of America and Israel. During one of his many meetings with President George W. Bush over lunch in the White House, Bush had just met with Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. He felt particularly taken by Abbas and asked Herb what he thought. Perhaps America finally had someone at the helm of the PA who could advance discussions of peace? Bush seemed optimistic about the prospect.
“Mr. President, with all due respect, Abbas is Arafat in a suit.”
Bush was bewildered. But it was this same refreshing intellectual honesty that drew all of us to Herb.
We’ll miss you, Herb. Your booming voice. Your towering presence. Your love of country. Your unparalleled intellect. See you on the other side one day, my dear friend and mentor. Rest in peace.
Josh Nass is a public relations professional who was proud to count Herb London as a mentor, friend and client. In that order.