RFK and Israel

With the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy upon us, former AIPAC and Israeli embassy official Lenny Ben-David is highlighting a series of dispatches that RFK wrote during his 1948 visit to Israel.

Click here to read the actual dispatches, which appeared in the now-defunct Boston Post.

The Jewish people in Palestine who believe in and have been working toward this national state have become an immensely proud and determined people. It is already a truly great modern example of the birth of a nation with the primary ingredients of dignity and self-respect.

Ben-David has an essay in the Jerusalem Post arguing that RFK was a genuine friend of Israel, who paid for this support of the Jewish state with his life.

And this from Sasha Issenberg in the Boston Globe:

The shooting of Robert F. Kennedy is widely remembered as part of the wrenching domestic turbulence of the 1960s. But some scholars are beginning to see it as something quite different yet no less significant: America’s first taste of the political violence of the Middle East.

Marty Peretz offers an amen on his blog.

And over at the Forward, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, writes:

Kennedy’s assassin was a Palestinian resident of Silwan in East Jerusalem, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. He chose to kill Kennedy on that exact date because it coincided with the first anniversary of Israel’s stunning victory during the Six-Day War. Sirhan hated Kennedy because he had supported Israel; in fact, that was exactly what Sirhan said when he testified at his own trial. He remains in prison, serving a life sentence for the murder.

Why is it important that we remember this barely-remembered historical tidbit about the death of Kennedy? Because one man’s hatred of Israel utterly re-directed American political life and the story of the presidency.

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