NEW YORK (Feb. 23)
A spokesman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D.,Mass.) criticized today the use of an out-of-context quotation of the late John F. Kennedy in a newspaper advertisement opposing American aid to Israel. The full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times, headlined “Israel: our next Vietnam?.” was signed by Alfred M. Lilienthal of New York, an outspoken Jewish anti-Zionist.
It attributed to “John Fitzgerald Kennedy” the comment: “I wholly agree that American partisanship in the Arab-Israeli conflict is dangerous to both the United States and the Free World.” The date and context of the quotation were not given, nor was it clear if John Kennedy meant partisanship in an Arab-Israeli sense or in a Democratic-Republican sense.
The ad charged that “While an Israeli will be flying the latest (Jet) models, some American boy may be shortchanged by this (Jet) commitment.” The “disastrous results (of) our Israel-First policy,” the ad asserted, have included the “displacement” of Arabs; “war and near-war”; “drastic alteration of the character of Jerusalem”; “subordination” of Jewish values to Zionist “chauvinism”; “dangerous Big Power polarization and escalation of the Middle East arms race,” and the “endangering” of US oil and other interests.
A spokesman for Sen. Edward Kennedy told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by telephone from Washington that “I don’t think that (quotation) reflects accurately” John Kennedy’s position, and that it was in fact “incorrect to suggest he opposed aid to Israel.”It misconstrues the position of President Kennedy, who is clearly on record as favoring aid to Israel,” the spokesman said.
KENNEDY QUOTE FROM PRIVATE LETTER
Although the ad gave the impression that the comment was made by John Kennedy as President, it was in fact written in a letter to Lilienthal dated Sept. 30, 1960, when Kennedy, then a Massachusetts Senator, was running for President. The “Dear Alfred” letter, framed on a wall of Lilienthal’s office here, was read by him over the phone at the JTA’s request. It advised Lilienthal, chairman of Middle East Perspective, that “your sobering analysis of my speeches (to the Liberal Party and the Zionist Organization of America) is provocation for additional thought.”
Kennedy wrote that he hoped for a Middle East “agreement,” for an eradication of the “bitter cause of friction” and “that both (Israel and the Arabs) would be friends of the United States.” Kennedy did not, however, say what he thought of Lilienthal’s analysis of his speeches. Lilienthal conceded to the JTA that he had sent Kennedy a “strong attack on his talk” to the ZOA, “severely criticizing him” for his position on Israel. Asked by the JTA if the use of the Kennedy quotation in the ad might mislead readers, Lilienthal said: “No, not at all.”
BONDS’ SALE FIGURES ASKEW
Lilienthal was also challenged on his claim that the “inordinate price…for the abnormal US/Israel relationship” has included $6 billion to Israel in Israeli bonds during 1948-71. A spokesman for the Israel Bond Organization told the JTA that during that period bond sales totalled $1.9 billion, of which 85 percent–or $1.6 billion–were sold in the US. Of this, almost $1 billion has already been redeemed, he said, and the bulk of the money has remained in the US to cover the costs of Israeli equipment purchases. Asked where Lilienthal and his supporters might have gotten the $6 billion figure, the bond spokesman suggested: “Their own imaginations.”
John T. Furey, the Times’ advertising acceptability manager, told the JTA that advertisers were entitled to “express a point of view,” adding: “This is his interpretation. That’s what controversy is all about.” The Kennedy quote, he confirmed, was “genuine.” Furey said there was nothing misleading in Lilienthal’s naming, in a separate box, without permission, the 14 Senators who voted against Phantoms for Israel. They are “not signatories to the ad,” Furey noted.
I.L. Kenen, editor of the Washington-based Near East Report, charged in today’s issue that “It is quite surprising to find the names of Senators in the advertisement who have no knowledge of it.” He said nine of the 14 Senators had told him yesterday they were unaware of the ad.
WHO HELPED PAY FOR AD?
In another attack on the ad’s misuse of the quotation by Kennedy, Arnold Forster, general counsel to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said the quotation was “misrepresentative,” “distorted” and “irrelevant.” He denounced the ad which featured a drawing of a Phantom and two crates of money being lifted by a pulley, presumably for shipment to Israel, as “typical Lilienthal anti-Israel propaganda which inevitably steps over the line into the murky waters of prejudice.” Forster said it would be “interesting” to know who had helped pay for the ad, which mentioned only Lilienthal and credited “concerned members and subscribers whose donations are not tax-exempt.”
Israeli kibbutz children who for three consecutive years had to sleep in bomb shelters under the constant threat of shelling, developed no more fears than children of the same age brought up in kibbutzim that were free from attacks, a psychologist reported today.