Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Kennedy, Mccarthy Affirm Strong Support for Israel’s Security

May 10, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two contenders for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination came out today with strong declarations of support for Israel. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York said the United States had a “deep moral responsibility” for the security of Israel and should sell to Israel the 50 Phantom supersonic Jet planes it has requested. In Omaha, Neb., Sen. Eugene McCarthy called on the Government to “reaffirm its moral and political commitment to the continued existence and independence of the State of Israel by military assistance if necessary.” He said that “a clear statement at this time of our unwavering commitment to the preservation of the State of Israel may well deter another outbreak of war.”

Sen. Kennedy met with the national board of directors of the Synagogue Council of America in New York yesterday. He told the assembly that the jet planes were needed to assure a balance of arms in the Middle East, in the absence of an agreement with Moscow to limit major arms shipments to the region.

Citing the “massive Soviet shipments to Arab states,” Sen. Kennedy said we should continue to work for an arms curtailment agreement with the Kremlin. He said the only way to achieve a real peace is to encourage Israel and her Arab neighbors to negotiate directly.

The New Yorker told the Synagogue Council that diplomats should be “bending every effort” to prevent another Middle East war instead of accepting one as “inevitable.” He said the U.S. had a “deep moral responsibility to assure the existence of Israel,” saying the world community was morally delinquent in the 1930s in failing to save Jews from Nazi extermination. Sen. Kennedy said the survivors of the holocaust must never be threatened with destruction again. He added that Israel’s role as a democracy and a friend of the well as the respect that nations everywhere have for Israel as a “symbol and teacher of democratic self-development,” requires that the U.S. honor its commitment to guard the security of the Jewish state. The consistent U.S. stand must be that “Israel is here to stay,” he declared.


Sources close to Sen. McCarthy said he was moved to take his position on Israel because he feels there is vacillation in U.S. Mideast policies. This lack of clarity at the time of a massive Soviet arms buildup in the Arab states motivated to Senator to speak out. His belief was said to be that any confusion as to U.S. intentions causes a vacuum that tempts the Arabs to aggression. Reference was made to a previous statement by Sen. McCarthy, at Beloit College, Wisconsin, on March 20, in which he said “we have both a moral and legal obligation to Israel…so that our responsibility to preserve the integrity of the State of Israel is clear on every count…We are called upon to do what we have to do to honor that commitment, a much clearer commitment than anything we have in Southeast Asia.”

He also called attention to the flow of U.S. as well as Russian arms “to countries that are prepared to attack Israel.” He said “it is indicated now that our Administration is prepared at least to build up the standard strength of Israel which has somewhat depleted in the recent war. I think that policy is not being carried out very effectively….”

Recommended from JTA