The Kennedys vs Israel’s Lobby

Editor’s note: PULSE is delighted to welcome Grant F. Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP) and author of many books, including America’s Defense Line, as our new feature contributor. In his first post Grant reveals the emerging details of the secret battles between the Kennedys and the Israel lobby.

AIPAC Founder Isaiah L. Kenen and Ted Kennedy
AIPAC Founder Isaiah L. Kenen and Ted Kennedy

The lobby’s accolades for the late Ted Kennedy and his support of Israel mask the generally unknown conflicts fought by the senator’s older brothers.  It is likely that lessons from the fiercest of all battles, fought behind the scenes by President John F. Kennedy alongside his brother and Attorney General Robert—guided the younger sibling’s political choices.  Details of the JFK-RFK duo’s effort to register the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) parent organization, the American Zionist Council (AZC) as an Israeli foreign agent were shrouded in mystery until declassified in mid-2008.

Between 1962 and 1963 Senator J.W. Fulbright uncovered a massive network of financial “conduits” moving funds directed by the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem to Israel lobby startup groups across the United States.  Even as JFK attempted to place Israel’s Dimona nuclear weapons program under US inspection, RFK ordered the AZC to openly register and disclose all of its foreign funded lobbying activity in the United States.

The DOJ and AZC fought their secret battle as Fulbright’s hearings disclosed the immense proportions of the Israel lobby effort.  Nathan B. Lenvin, a DOJ attorney who had been after AIPAC’s founder Isaiah Kenen since 1951 to continue registering as a foreign agent after he left the employ of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took copious notes of the many meetings, AZC’s offers of limited registration and the DOJ’s counter offers.

But the law enforcement effort ended in tragedy.  JFK’s assassination on November 12, 1963 in Dallas meant RFK’s political cover for the prosecution was gone and his days at the DOJ were numbered.  He left to run for a New York senate seat.  In 1965 the DOJ allowed the AZC to file a highly redacted and non-standardized FARA declaration in secret.  The AZC then shut down and transferred lobbying activity to AIPAC, which refused to register.

RFK’s assassination in 1968 was followed a few months later by the quiet death of the 58 year old Nathan Lenvin during a DOJ recruiting trip in Chicago.  Low level DOJ officials involved in the AZC registration battle such as Irene Bowman were gently eased out, while high officials willing to defer to the lobby, such as Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and J. Walter Yeagley, moved on to stellar careers.

As details of the secret DOJ-Israel lobby showdowns continue to emerge, it is hard not to conclude that the younger Kennedy’s renowned accommodation, mastered as a child from within the shadows of his siblings, was as much a survival strategy as the hallmark of an effective politician.

35 thoughts on “The Kennedys vs Israel’s Lobby”

  1. What is curious is why this information which Grant Smith has written about has been totally ignored by the “progressive” critics of Israeli policy from Chomsky to Zunes and all points in between in explaining why no US administration since Eisenhower has been able to overcome Israel’s open defiance of the US government and the respective efforts of every president, beginning with JFK to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict in line with US regional interests.

    1. Chomsky and Zunes et al have responded meticulously to these postulations, numerous times. American support for Israel is well understood; their interests converge. Where they don’t, history shows America comes out on top. For example, the trade deals with China that the US forced Israel to publicly apologize for (under Clinton).

      Chomsky understands the American system of power better than any. I suggest readers google for his views and explanations regarding the Israel lobby.

      Israel’s economy is smaller than wallmart. There is no way it is decisive in determining American foreign policy. If Lockheed Martin, Raytheon et al were to oppose Israel, America would follow with its tail between its legs. Such is the power relationship.

      1. Chomsky and Zunes’s arguments fail both the logical and empirical tests. Chomsky is a great moralist, but a poor political scientist. He hasn’t even figured out the nature of the US-Israel relationship, and seems to have accepted what it takes AIPAC millions to convince the congress of: that Israel is a ‘strategic asset’. People who always invoke this same solitary China example appear oblivious to the whole documented diplomatic history of every state department (with one exception) going all the way back to George Marshall in 1948, and every president going back to Eisenhowever who have all seen Israel as a strategic liability, as have big business and big oil. All have been unable to do anything about it because of domestic pressure brought about by the lobby.

        People who make these asinine arguments often don’t know what ILSA is, or why it was opposed by the fortune 500. How the lobby got to prevail. They don’t even know what was Big Oil’s position on Iraq. Or for that matter of oil men like James Baker and Bush Sr. They don’t even know that in 1985 US lost the biggest arms contract in history — $70 billion — to the Europeans because the lobby won’t allow Reagan to sell weapons to Saudis. So to suggest that US and Israel have common interests is pure nonsense.

        I would suggest readers pick up Patric Tyler’s excellent book A World of Trouble, or read my review of it here:

        And of course there is always Mearsheimer & Walt’s The Israel lobby.

        1. More on the Mearsheimer/Walt book(

          U.S. Middle East policy motivated by pro-Israel lobby:

          Here is a tiny URL for the above one:

          Walt & Mearsheimer’s Proof That ‘Tail Wagged the Dog’ Points American Jews to a Universalist Ethos (see the comments section at the bottom as well):

          The Gorilla in the Room is US Support for Israel:

          The following is a tiny URL for the above one:

      2. Sorry to pick up an old thread but I just came upon it; I respect Noam Chomsky quite a bit; but he has some glaring blind spots-not the least of which is anything involving the Kennedys-and 911. He refuses to give JFK credit for anything positive and Chomsky has made repeatedly the just dumb statement that it does not matter who killed JFK-well, it mattered to those who killed him and would matter to the American people if they actualized the fact that not a lone nut but a coup took out their President.

  2. Excellent post by Grant Smith.

    What motivated the 9/11 hijackers? See testimony most didn’t

    Here is a tiny URL for the above one:

    “Sit Down!” The Power to Silence the Truth about 9/11 Part 2

    Here is the tiny URL for the above one:

    Yes, There Is a Guerrilla War Against Zionism in the U.S. What Should Jewish Institutions Do?

    Additional at following URL:


  3. Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ broadcast courageously conveyed why Bobby Kennedy was assassinated:

    MATTHEWS: Well, for 41 years, he beat the gunman. He avoided getting killed like his brothers by people carrying guns. Eugene, for most Americans living today, he was the Kennedy. They don‘t remember Joe. Joe died in World War II fighting the Nazis, and Jack was killed in a cold war situation by a real communist lover, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Bobby was killed supporting Israel, basically, in the Middle East. These were politically motivated killings. The youngest brother survived. For most people, he was “the Kennedy.” Your thoughts about the Democratic leader, Ted Kennedy.

    1. If broadcasting what is accepted as “conventional wisdom” is considered “courageous,”we need a new word for the latter. There is more evidence that Oswald was a plant (and ended up as a “patsy” than a “communist lover” And there are many unanswered questions about the RFK assassination. What Grant Smith has documented (and which Chomsky and Zunes have NEVER written about!) is that JFK and RFK as his AJ were trying to get the AZC to register as a foreign agent, that JFK was adamantly against Israel going nuclear, and that publicly and privately, JFK supported Res.194, the Palestinian right of return. These were three red lines for Israel that the Ben-Gurion government would not allowed to be crossed. After JFK’s death, no president tried to do it again.

    2. Chris Matthews is so full of BS it is not even funny; he manages to roll out the canards that LHO killed President Kennedy-which 50 years of independent scholarship from Harold Weisberg to James Douglass has proven to be not only a lie but propaganda. As to Sirhan Sirhan, no one has figured out how he managed to get off more shots than his gun held and how he hit RFK from behind when he was always in front of him.

      Matthews, you are an ass.


    Sirhan Sirhan (a Palestinian) was strongly anti-Zionist.[30][31] A diary found during a search of Sirhan’s home stated, “My determination to eliminate RFK is becoming more and more of an unshakable obsession. RFK must die. RFK must be killed. Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated…Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated before 5 June 68.” It has been suggested that the date of the assassination is significant, because it was the first anniversary of the first day of the Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors.[32] When Sirhan was booked by police, they found in his pocket a newspaper article that discussed Kennedy’s support for Israel, and at his trial, Sirhan testified that he began to hate Kennedy after learning of this support.

  5. Our friend Jeff Blankfort also weighs in:

    When Kennedy spoke before the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations on January 28, 1980, he attacked President Carter, accusing him of an “on again, off again flirtation” with the PLO and of holding “pro-Palestinian positions,” (NYT 1/29/80), this about a man who had only a year earlier negotiated the Camp David Treaty between Israel and Egypyt.

    Kennedy told his audience that “I know that in advocating Israel’s cause, I am inevitably advancing the cause of America,” and he asked, rhetorically, “what sort of a settlement can Israel expect from this president electorally unfettered in his second term? How often have threats and pressures, veiled and explicit, been used by this Administration in attempting to coerce Israel?”

    The Times reported that Rabbi Alexander Schindler, a former president of the conference and the president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said that the Kennedy commitment was the most unequivocal he had heard from any Presidential candidate.

  6. Cutting through all the PC and BS does anyone know what Teddy stood for?

    I mean when he could stand that is!

    Was he a whore for special interests?

    Now does that make Teddy K any different from anybody else in Washington?

    Like his Dad,Teddy knew just who runs the place.From his own experience he knew there are certain people you just don’t cross.

    Shame most commentators,unlike Teddy,haven’t worked it out yet.

    David Owen spoke of Teddy as someone who through his even-handed approach had moved the NI peace process forward.

    Anybody who was there at the time remembers that anytime any American spoke about what was happening in NI Britain would brook no intervention in its own backyard.

    It was a domestic matter and Teddy K and Sean Penn and whoever else could go hang themselves!

    So Teddy’s comments re-NI turning into Britain’s Vietnam and the accusations re-torture of Republican suspects at Castlereagh police station went down badly with people like Owen,then Foreign Secretary and Roy Mason,Secretary of State for Torture (sorry,NI).

    Never mind we’ve all got short memories now and even more limited attention spans and Owen’s hypocritical humbug is the stock-in-trade of our current political class.

    As for Sirhan Sirhan he was a bit like all those guys on Yasgur’s farm the following year.

    Spaced out….

    They missed some great acts!

  7. How Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal endangers Us All
    By: Jeff Gates

    Can’t smell Israel

    On September 24th, U.S. President Barack Obama will preside over a U.N. Security Council session on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. In March 2010, Moscow will host a Global Nuclear Summit that the U.S. has agreed to attend.

    The next six months could prove hopeful or harmful—depending on the impact on Israel’s nuclear arsenal. With U.S. backing, Tel Aviv has thus far avoided compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—joining North Korea, India and Pakistan.

    President John F. Kennedy tried to stop Israel from starting a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. In a June 1963 letter to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, he insisted on proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Israel was not developing nuclear weapons at its Dimona reactor facility. Though his letter was cabled to the U.S. embassy, Ben-Gurion resigned (citing undisclosed personal reasons) before the message could be physically delivered.

    With Israel’s nuclear ambitions under attack by its key ally, that strategically well-timed resignation duped an inexperienced young president and denied him a diplomatic victory that might well have precluded the wars now being waged in the Middle East.

    See balance of commentary at How Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal Endangers Us All where Guilt By Association can be ordered, the first release in the Criminal State series.’s-nuclear-arsenal-endangers-us-all/

  8. The Israeli Occupation of America: How Israel Gained Control of American Foreign Policy and Public Opinion

    By Hesham Tillawi, PhD

    ”Israel need not apologize for the assassination or destruction of those who seek to destroy it. The first order of business for any country is the protection of its people.”Washington Jewish Week, October 9, 1997

    I came from a country occupied militarily by Israel to the land of “the free and the brave” only to find out it too was occupied politically by Israel.

    The Palestinian people, holding on to whatever shred of hope they can, are counting on the day Americans see the error of their ways and change their opinion of the whole Middle East situation and understand it for what it truly is–A conquered, oppressed people living a hellish existence under a maniacal, occupying power and who will then contact their representatives in Congress and have them put the heat on Israel in fulfilling the agreements she made years ago with the PLO such as Oslo, Taba, Camp David, Wye River, the Road Map, or even Annapolis.

    The sad fact however is that the Americans–as much as they champion themselves as a “free people”–are in no better shape than the Palestinians. On the contrary, the American position is worse than that of the Palestinians. The Palestinians can identify the enemy–he is the one with the gun and blowing away their loved ones. They KNOW they are occupied and oppressed. They KNOW how Israel occupied Palestine, killed its inhabitants and forced the majority of those who survived the carnage out of their homes and lands to then live as strangers in refugee camps.

    The Americans however, have no idea. Like a drug addict who thinks he feels great after shooting up, he does not realize he is a slave, to his substance and to his pusher. The history of how the Zionists’ controlled England is not shrouded in mystery. Through Jewish control of the British government the Balfour Declaration was drafted that “gave” the land of Palestine to the Jews after WWI, a land they did not own or possess.

    But how in the world did they occupy the United States politically? There is no real “Balfour Declaration” we can point to as proof.

    Or can we?

    Jewish influence in American politics–while there from the earliest days and certainly apparent during the Wilson, Roosevelt and Truman administrations–did not become the force it is today until the Kennedy era, or, rather, AFTER the Kennedy era.

    As all know, in 1961 John Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States, a presidency cut short as a result of his assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Robert Kennedy, the president’s younger brother was Attorney General of the United States and therefore the head of the Department of Justice.

    What is little-known is that the Kennedy’s realized early on that indeed the country was in trouble and that something needed to be done about it. The trouble in this case was the influence slithering its way into American political life from a far-away state only about 12 years old known as Israel. Both Kennedy brothers, learning politics at their father Joseph’s knee, understood the dynamic of this thing known as “Jewish interests”, how it would play out and what the repercussions would be for America.

    Of the many issues revolving around Israel and the Zionist question the two more important as pertains the Jewish state were (A) Israel’s nuclear program, and (B) the issue of an organization known as the American Zionist Council.

    According to Pulitzer Prize winning author Seymour Hersh, President Kennedy was profoundly committed to nuclear nonproliferation and was categorically opposed to nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which meant opposing Israel’s nuclear program. Hersh states that JFK exerted heavy pressure on Israel to stop the program and was serious about it. At the time Kennedy was in the middle of crises mode with the Russians in trying to arrange a nonproliferation treaty with them and therefore Israel’s nuclear program would be a big embarrassment. In addition to being an embarrassment it would open up the possibility of a nuclear conflict with Russia, given her allies in the Middle East, something made all the more believable in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost resulted in a nuclear war between the two giants. John Kennedy had nightmares about the prospect of nuclear proliferation, saying “I am haunted by the feeling that by 1970, unless we are successful, there may be ten nuclear powers instead of four, and by 1975, 15 to 20…. I see the possibility in the 1970s of the president of the United States having to face a world in which 15 or 25 nations may have these weapons. I regard this as the greatest possible danger and hazard.”

    Secret letters and secret meetings between Kennedy and Ben-Gurion give a clear picture of the difficulty Kennedy faced in negotiating with the Israeli Prime Minister who stated many times that nothing will save Israel but nuclear power. According to author Michael Collins Piper in his book Final Judgment Ben Gurion wrote Kennedy saying: “Mr. President, my people have the right to exist, and this existence is in danger.”

    It does not take a skilled translater to figure out what Ben Gurion was saying, namely that Kennedy’s opposition to nuclear weapons in the Middle East was seen as an existential threat to the Jewish people and their newly-formed state. Going further, Kennedy insisted on inspections of Israel’s program as evidenced in a secret letter sent to then-Israeli Prime Minister Levy Eshkol that stated that American support of Israel “could be jeopardized” if the Americans were not allowed to inspect the Israeli nuclear facilities.

    As if the aforementioned were not enough, there was another front in this private war between Kennedy and the “Jewish state” equally important in its scope if we are to understand what kinds of forces were at play here that led to America’s change of policy with regards to Israel. It involves the issue of spying, bribery and the direct controlling of American politicians by a foreign power and the one creature at the center of all of it was something known as the American Zionist Council and the Kennedys’ insistence it register as a foreign agent under the provisos of FARA, the Foreign Agent Registration Act passed by Congress back in 1938 to prevent German agents in the U.S. from buying their way into the American system of government and public opinion. The purpose of FARA was “to insure that American public and its law makers know the source of information- propaganda intended to sway public opinion, policy, and laws.”

    In other words the Kennedy’s understood the danger of the Zionist Movement on the United States of America and treated it just like Germany was treated during the Hitler years. The Kennedy’s understood the reality of the situation as it existed during their days in government, that the AZC was an agent of a foreign government, Israel, which would prevent it from buying American politicians and exerting the kind of influence over public opinion making that for all intents and purposes is now is a fait accompli.

    Negotiations went back and forth between the Department of Justice headed by the President’s brother Robert and the American Zionist Council. The council refused to register and the DOJ tried to exert pressure on them, even going so far in one instance as giving them 72 hours to register, but at no avail. Examining the newly-de-classified documents containing the minutes of those meetings between the DOJ and the AZC one can see the language of gangsters being used. In one of those documents dated May 2, 1963 the head legal counsel Simon H. Rifkind for the AZC explained to the representatives of the DOJ the nature of the AZC, saying “The council is composed of representatives of the various Zionist organizations in the United States” and thereby, in effect, it represented “the vast majority of organized Jewry within this country.” The message was clear here–As far as organizations go it is big and powerful. Judge Rifkind obviously wanted to make sure the Kennedy’s knew they were picking a fight with a gorilla and not some small mouse.

    He did not stop there but went further by stating that the vast number of Jews who adhered to the principles of Zionism could not understand how “our administration” could “do such harm to the Zionist movement and impair the effectiveness of the council by insistence on registration.”

    Here Judge Rifkind made sure he used the phrase “our administration” instead of “our government” to make a specific point, namely that he was talking about Kennedy personally, that it was the Jews responsible for him getting elected and that if he continued with his agenda he was in effect entering into a war with organized Jewry.

    Another meeting very much worth noting was held on October 17, 1963 between DOJ and AZC. In this meeting Judge Rifkind insisted on non registering, citing that fact that “It was the opinion of most of the persons affiliated with the Council that such registration…would eventually destroy the Zionist movement” and adding that he did not believe his clients would “file any papers or sign any papers indicating that the organization was an agent of a foreign principal”. In other words, “Screw You America and your laws, we’ll do what we want” as well as threatening the administration and telling them who really ruled the country, not the Kennedy brothers but rather the persons “affiliated” with AZC. Once translated from Gangsterese into understandable political language, this statement was in effect a direct warning/threat to the Administration that the war was on. It is up for grabs whether or not the Kennedys understood this to be the real threat it was, but nevertheless the Administration decided to continue with its position.

    On November 22, 1963 President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. As the AZC went away into the sunset, AIPAC came riding in, born and led by the same persons who created and managed AZC for the same purpose. This time however, the message went out clearly for all on Capitol Hill to hear and understand–“Do not stand in our way of influencing public opinion, policy, or laws.”

    Obviously, the message has been effective, as all American leaders save a few such as James Traficant have done as instructed. According to the former Congressman, Israel receives $15 Billion worth of aid from the American Taxpayers without a single discussion or a single argument on the floor of either the house of Representatives or the Senate. Why? Because no one dares to question it. Why is it that most of our politicians make pilgrimage to Tel Aviv and the “wailing wall” in Jerusalem to get the blessing of Israel before they are even approved by their own political parties here in the United States? Why is it our Congress is always split down the middle on all other issues presented to them except when it deals with Israel? We all still remember the comment made by former Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon to his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in October 2001: “Don’t worry about American pressure, we the Jewish people control America.” When people with eyes to see state that fact they are called anti-Semites, despite the fact that what is being said is the truth.

    The “control” Sharon spoke about has been there for a long time now. Consider what the late Senator Fulbright (who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who held hearings back in 1963 regarding the AZC and the fact it should be registered as a Foreign Agent registration) said when speaking on the CBS television program “Face the Nation” had to say–

    “I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy not approved by the Jews…Terrific control the Jews have over the news media and the barrage the Jews have built up on Congress… the Jewish influence here is completely dominating the scene and making it almost impossible to get Congress to do anything they (the Jews) don’t approve of.”

    These words were not spoken by a researcher or a reporter but by a brave American hero who actually lived through and experienced the Jewish influence over our political system and media.

    This Israeli political occupation of the United States should not go on unchallenged, and American Jewry should understand that secrets cannot be hidden from the people forever. Nothing less than a revolution will correct this situation. The corrective action should be taken at the ballot boxes by electing people who are not afraid to challenge AIPAC and the likes and make America’s Foreign Policy truly American and not Israeli.

    As a first step in this process, let us keep the words of our dear martyred President John F Kennedy in mind– “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

    Hesham Tillawi, PhD International Relations is a Palestinian American writer, Political Analyst and a TV and Radio Talk Show Host. His program Current issues with Hesham Tillawi can be viewed Live every Thursday evening at 6:30PM Central Standard Time on Cox Cable system Channel 15 in Louisiana, Nationwide on Bridges TV, and Worldwide on Amazonas Satellite, as well as Live on the Internet at and can be contacted at Interviews then archived for on demand viewing at Radio show broadcast on RBN every Saturday at 4-6 PM Central Time

  9. Israel ‘Deplores’ IAEA Call to Join NPT
    US Rejects Vote, Canada Tries to Block Resolution

    Iran ready to pay for probe into Israeli nukes:

    IAEA conference criticizes Israeli nuclear program:

    Here is the actual threat to the world:

    Martin Levi van Creveld (born 5 March 1946) is an Israeli military historian and theorist:

    We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force…. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.[4]

    Beating the War Drums for Iran:

    Israel to drum up support for war against Iran?:

    Obama’s War Signals: Iran in the Crosshairs:

    The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy (by Philip Giraldi):

  10. Israel’s catastrophic misadventure on the high seas laat weekend has only deepened the chasm between the two camps. Israeli troops raid aid flotilla headed for Gaza, killing nine. Israel’s deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla was “inexcusable”, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Desmond Tutu, said


    Prime Minister Golda Meir lying had said ‘This country now exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.’ And yet still there is no such New Testament approval, prediction..

  11. Thank you for all the info and i will be bookmarking the great sources u gave me. The more I think I know everything about Zionist crimes from the ritual murders to Gaza, the more I realize I probably haven’t even covered 0.001% of the Zionist evil in this world.

  12. America has already paid heavy price for the Israeli influence on its foreign policy and still has not been able get out of its influence. In fact the US leaders are forced to withdraw their words and tender apologies as and when they try to toe an independent policy affecting Israel. In order to advance its national interests, Israel relies very heavily on the high handedness of Mossad, Jewish media and financial institutions in US, owned by the Jews. In my opinion a nation should formulate its foreign policy on the basis of their national interests and moral and humanitarian values adored and owned by its people even if it is not liked by some close friendly countries. In most of the conflicts, in order to protect Israeli interests, US has sacrificed those sterling values for which the forefathers of US people had offered enormous sacrifices. In my opinion because of this reason alone the mightiest super power of the world today is moving fast on a path to decline.

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