Back in the shtetl the two highest values in Jewish life were wealth and learning. Well I’m pitting the learning against the wealth here. I’m going to keep on my theme of Jewish wealth in politics, inasmuch as it distorts our policy in the Middle East.
Last year Seymour Hersh, god bless him, openly spoke of “Jewish money” when he criticized the push to attack Iran. And my correspondent Nim Chimpsky (I wish I knew who he was, but I trust him anyway) just sent me a selection from Hersh’s 1991 book “The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy”:
of Connecticut said that in 1960,] ‘I told Kennedy I was going to get in touch with Abe
Feinberg, who I thought was a key Jew. I arranged a meeting [with
Kennedy] in Feinberg’s apartment in the Hotel Pierre and we invited all
the leading Jews.’ About twenty prominent businessmen and financiers
“… The group agreed on an initial contribution of $500,000 to the
presidential campaign, with more to come.
‘I called him [Kennedy] right
away,’ said Feinberg. ‘His voice broke. He got emotional’ with
“Kennedy was anything but grateful the next morning in
describing the session to Charles L. Bartlett, a newspaper columnist
and close friend. He had driven to Bartlett’s home in northwest
Washington and dragged his friend on a walk, where he recounted a much
different version of the meeting the night before. ‘As an American
citizen he was outraged,’ Bartlett recalled, ‘to have a Zionist group
come to him and say: “We know your campaign is in trouble. We’re
willing to pay your bills if you’ll let us have control of your Middle
East policy.'” Kennedy, as a presidential candidate, also resented the
crudity with which he’d been approached. ‘They wanted control,’ he
angrily told Bartlett.
“Bartlett further recalled Kennedy promising to himself that if
he ever did get to be President, he was going to do something about
it”–a candidate’s perennial need for money and resulting vulnerability
to the demands of those who contributed. Kennedy, in fact, kept that
promise before the end of his first year in office, appointing a
bipartisan commission in October to recommend ways to broaden “the
financial base of our presidential campaigns.” In a statement that was
far more heartfelt than the public or the press could perceive, he
criticized the current method of financing campaigns as “highly
undesirable” and “not healthy” because it made candidates “dependent on
large financial contributions of those with special interests.”
Presidential elections, Kennedy declared, were “the supreme test of the
democratic process” in the United States. (pages 96-97)
Nim adds: JFK wanted a nuclear-free near east with inspectors at Dimona
and a resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem (which would be a
policy based on American interests or perhaps even regional or
international interests). I don’t think his patrons liked those ideas
much. they wanted a policy based on Israel’s interests. and as they
say, when you pay the piper, you call the tune.
To which I’d add: Israel got nukes. Nukes seem to have played a role in causing the ’67 War. Now Iran wants nukes; and this time around the U.S. is contemplating military attacks. Maybe it’s time to get nukes out of the Middle East? Isn’t Dimona a bargaining chip?
As for the Pierre Hotel incident, here is Abba Eban writing (in “Dewey David Stone: Prototype of an American Zionist,” published in an American Jewish Historical Society collection) on the same subject:
“[W]hen he became a presidential candidate in 1960, John F. Kennedy was again plagued by memories of his father’s equivocal attitude on Nazism. Dewey [Stone, a leading Israel lobbyist] suggested that the candidate accept the invitation of the Zionist Organization of America to be the principal speaker at its convention. Kennedy presented his views with eloquence and passion and firmly dissociated himself from his father’s war-time attitude. At a meeting arranged in the apartment of Abraham Feinberg at the Hotel Pierre in August 1960, Dewey Stone, with a group of influential Jewish leaders, interrogated Kennedy stringently on matters affecting Jews and Israel. It appeared that Kennedy made honest and candid responses to the questions asked of him….
“No historian would question the judgment that without the support of American Jewry, Israel’s emergence out of vulnerability and weakness into sovereignty and successful resistance could not have been conceived.”
Reminds you of Obama and AIPAC, doesn’t it? I wonder how secretly ticked off Obama is. Of course the only religious obeisance anyone mentions apropos of Kennedy is his speech to the Houston Protestant ministers in ’60. Slowly but surely, knowledge of the Israel lobby is growing.