Kennedy, the Lobby and the Bomb


by Laurent Guyénot


Exactly fifty years ago a crucial episode took place in the history of “U.S. democracy”; an epic struggle whose outcome would influence the future of the entire world. Guyénot Laurent revisits those events and throws light on the grave issues at stake.


VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 2 MAY 2013


Kennedy and the AIPAC


In May 1963, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations opened an investigation into the covert activities of foreign agents on U.S. soil, focusing in particular on the American Zionist Council and the Jewish Agency for Israel. [1] The investigation was prompted by a report from the Chairman of that standing Committee, Senator J. William Fulbright, written in March 1961 (declassified in 2010), stating: "In recent years there has been an increasing number of incidents involving attempts by foreign governments, or their agents, to influence the conduct of American foreign policy by techniques outside normal diplomatic channels." By covert activities, including "within the United States and elsewhere," Fulbright was referring to the 1953 "Lavon Affair" [2], where a group of Egyptian Jews was recruited by Israel to carry out bomb attacks against British targets, which were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood so as to discredit Nasser in the eyes of the British and Americans.


The Senate investigation brought to light a money laundering racket through which the Jewish Agency (indivisible from the State of Israel and a precursor to the Israeli Government) was channelling tens of millions of dollars to the American Zionist Council, the main Israeli lobby in the United States. Following this investigation, the Department of Justice, under the authority of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, ordered the American Zionist Council to register as "agents of a foreign government," subject to the requirements of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, involving the close monitoring of its activities.


This attempt to counter Israel’s growing interference in U.S. politics undoubtedly enjoyed the support of the President. At the time when he was still a young journalist covering the United Nations inaugural conference, John Kennedy was troubled by Israel’s ability to buy politicians, up to and including the President himself. By recognizing the State of Israel on May 15, 1948, (just ten minutes after its official proclamation) despite the unanimous disapproval of his government, President Harry Truman not only gained a place in biblical history ("Truman’s historic act of recognition will remain forever inscribed in golden letters in the 4000-year history of the Jewish people”, declared the Israeli ambassador), he also pocketed two million dollars to revitalize his re-election campaign. "That’s why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast,” Kennedy told his friend novelist and essayist Gore Vidal [3].


In 1960, John Kennedy himself received a financial aid offer from the Israeli lobby for his presidential campaign. He decoded Abraham Feinberg’s proposal for his journalist friend Charles Bartlett in the following terms: "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." Bartlett recalls Kennedy’s promise that "if he ever did get to be President, he was going to do something about it [4]." Between 1962 and 1963, he submitted seven campaign finance reform bills but all were defeated by the influential groups they sought to restrain.


All government efforts to stymie the corruption of American democracy by Israeli agents were stopped short by Kennedy’s assassination and his brother’s replacement at the Department of Justice by Nicholas Katzenbach. The American Zionist Council evaded foreign agent status by dissolving and renaming itself American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Ten years later (April 15, 1973), Fulbright commented on CBS: "Israel controls the U.S. Senate. [...] The great majority of the Senate of the U.S. – somewhere around 80 percent – are completely in support of Israel; anything Israel wants Israel gets." AIPAC continued the same practices, dodging any sanction even when its members were caught red-handed in acts of espionage and high treason. In 2005, two AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, were acquitted after having received from a member of the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, Larry Franklin, documents classified as Secret-Defense which they transmitted to a senior Israeli official.


In 2007, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt demonstrated in their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy that AIPAC and less prominent pro-Israel lobbies were the main cause of the war in Iraq and, more broadly, the determining factor in the foreign policy of the U.S. in the Middle East. Considering that nothing has changed, there is no reason to believe that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu will not also obtain from the United States the destruction of Iran that it consistently clamors for.


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