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Human rights advocate Jerome Shestack dies

Jerome J. Shestack, a noted attorney, human rights advocate and supporter of Israel, has died at age 88.

Shestack died Thursday of kidney failure at his home, his family said.

Shestack, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, was president of the American Bar Association in the late 1990s. He also served as chairman of the International League for Human Rights and U.S. representative on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Shestack "a committed public servant and a dogged defender of human rights."

"As president of the American Bar Association, and in the years following, he set the standard for how civil society leaders can promote human rights," she said in a statement.

Shestack was active in Democratic politics, working for Adlai Stevenson and writing speeches for Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Sargent Shriver and Edmund Muskie. He was a member of the Democratic Party's platform committee at the national convention in San Francisco in 1984.

Shestack was born in Atlantic City, N.J. He served in the Navy in World War II as a gunnery officer on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga and was wounded in a kamikaze attack by the Japanese, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. It said he was saved from greater injury because lunch that day was pork, and because he was Jewish, he didn't eat that day, so he avoided the deck hit hardest by the attack.

The American Jewish Committee called Shestack a "brilliant, dynamic and effective advocate for human rights and the Jewish commitment to justice for all." It said he "championed the plight of those abused and excluded worldwide" and "worked tirelessly at AJC in support of Israel, civil rights, Holocaust remembrance and Soviet Jewry."

Shestack is survived by his wife, Marciarose, son Jonathan and daughter Jennifer.

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