Kennedy Addresses Z.O.A. Convention; Stresses ‘tripartite Declaration’
Menu JTA Search

Kennedy Addresses Z.O.A. Convention; Stresses ‘tripartite Declaration’

Download PDF for this date

Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy proposed today a “crystal clear” reaffirmation of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 by the United States, Britain and France against Middle Eastern aggression and promised to use “all the authority and prestige of the White House” to call a conference of Arab and Israeli leaders to seek peace. He spoke at the opening session of the 63rd annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America held at the Sheraton-Hilton Hotel here.

“There has been enough rhetoric in recent years about free transit through the Suez Canal–but there has been no leadership,” Sen. Kennedy declared. He charged that “our policy in Washington and in the United Nations has permitted defiance of our pledge with impunity–indeed, with economic reward.”

Senator Kennedy said if America’s word in the world community was to have any meaning, the U.S. must use its influence to remove “all discrimination at the Suez Canal for all times.” He asserted that “the White House must take the lead.” He attacked “the series of incredible American blunders which led to the Suez Crisis of 1956, events in which the role of our government has never been fully explained.”

“At times it must have appeared that champions of democracy and freedom were being punished for their virtues, by being taken for granted by a neglectful Administration that suddenly showed concern only when it was displeased by their conduct.” he stated. He expressed the view that “peace in the Middle East is not one step nearer reality today than it was eight years ago but Russian influence is immeasurably greater.”

Senator Kennedy said a new American President must introduce leadership “to compose this ugly situation before it breaks out in a new threat to peace. Proposing a re-statement of the Tripartite Declaration, he said it must be made definite” that we will act promptly and decisively against any nation in the Middle East which attacks its neighbor…with whatever force and speed are necessary to halt any aggression by any nation.” He urged that this country invite like-minded nations to join in signing, registering, and depositing such a clear pledge with the United Nations.

He held that at present the old Tripartite Declaration “is too uncertain of execution and effect to be a useful shield for peace.” He pointed out that “a delay of only a few days in international reaction to aggression might well be fatal to a nation’s freedom and indeed the peace of the entire world.”


Senator Kennedy proposed that “all the authority and prestige of the White House be used to call into conference the leaders of Israel and the Arab states to consider privately their common problems, assuring them that we support in full their aspirations for peace.” He also urged that the U.S. should make clear to the conference “that we are prepared to back up this moral support with economic and technical assistance.” He voiced belief that such an approach from the White House “would not be lightly rejected by either side.”

“It is a long and painful step from the era of the boycott to the era of partnership–and that step needs the direct encouragement and help of the White House,” Senator Kennedy said. He stressed that “the next President of the United States should always be personally available to stimulate every experiment in cooperation, from the Joint development of a river, to a reconsideration of the Arab refugee problem, to the crowning mercy of the final reconciliation that can be brought about only by a true peace settlement.”

Citing the benefits of Israeli technical aid to Burma and Ethiopia, Sen. Kennedy expressed belief that the Arab states could similarly benefit from peaceful cooperation with Israel. He thought the Arabs should attack their social problems rather than continuing hostility against Israel, and that this would form a better basis for Arab unity.

The Presidential candidate spoke of his two visits to Israel. Affirming conviction that Israel is “here to stay,” he said friendship for Israel “is not a partisan matter. It is a national commitment. There is a special obligation on the Democratic Party.”

He charged that there has been much “empty and negative” rhetoric from the Administration about opposing an arms race and a solution by force in the Middle East. He stressed that if a solution based on force is rejected, the United States and United Nations must accept the task of finding a solution based on reason and justice.

Citing setbacks in the Middle East owing to Administration “blunders,” Senator Kennedy said American intervention today to prevent further deterioration and Russian penetration “will not now be easy.” The Administration record “is not one to which we can point with pride,” he asserted.

“The United Nations may have conferred on Israel the credentials of nationhood; but its own idealism and courage, its own sacrifice and generosity, had earned the credentials of immortality,” he declared.


Abraham A. Redelheim, president of the Zionist Organization of America, in his presidential address, reaffirmed the demand for the establishment of a central American Jewish body “to speak with one united voice on issues affecting the welfare and interest of the Jewish community of this country and throughout the world.” Dwelling on the functions and future of the Zionist movement, Mr. Redelheim stated that “this is not only a question of the survival of the Zionist movement, but of the Jewish State itself.”

“The tasks of the Zionist movement have only begun to face us when the State of Israel was established,” he said. “New generations were growing up who did not live through this romantic period of Zion’s revival–generations of Jews who would become thoroughly estranged from the life and people in Israel unless there was a pulsating, dynamic Zionist movement to keep them fully aware of their identification with Israel’s Jewry, their commonness of purpose, and, to repeat, the acceptance of the belief in the oneness of the Jewish people–the unity of the Jewish people.”

Dr. Binyamin Eliav, Israel Consul General and Minister Plenipotentiary, greeting the delegates at the convention on behalf of the Israel Government, expressed certainty that the convention “will strengthen the organic tie between the Jewish people in the land of Israel.”

“It is almost unnecessary for me to state that American Jews, faithful to the cause of Zion, have played a decisive role in recent years as well,” Mr. Eliav stated. “Without your help, the State of Israel would have been unable to absorb the multitude of immigrants with as comparatively little dislocation as it did. Without your help, the face of the land could not have changed from desert to fields of man in such a short time, Without your help, our country could not have grown from an underdeveloped land to a modern state so rapidly.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund