John F. Kennedy and Israel

John F. Kennedy and Israel

John F. Kennedy and Israel

John F. Kennedy and Israel


Based on newly available materials, this study traces John F. Kennedy's policies and philosophy towards Israel, in particular how Israel's pursuit of defensive goals might have affected regional stability and U. S. strategic interests. Druks recounts how Kennedy entered the White House hoping to make America and the world a better and safer place in which to live. Through diplomacy, he sought to achieve a settlement of the East-West tensions and to bring about a peaceful resolution to such issues as the Israeli-Arab conflict. Druks demonstrates that, although Kennedy's provision of defensive HAWK anti-aircraft missiles, in response to Russian, French, and British arms sales to the Arabs, made him the first president to supply arms to Israel, Kennedy feared both exacerbation of the arms race and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. While he remained an honest and loyal friend to Israel, he also attempted to further America's relationship with the Arab states and to encourage a settlement of the Arab refugee issue. Druks describes Kennedy as an independent thinker who learned how to rely upon his own best judgment and intelligence rather than upon his father or officials like Dean Rusk or Allen Dulles. He ultimately agreed to regular consultations between Israeli and American military personnel, but he would not agree to a dual alliance nor would he allow America to become Israel's main source of military equipment. Druks posits that it was this precarious and uncertain diplomatic and military situation that encouraged Israel to develop its own defense industries and to investigate the possibilities of producing its own nuclear weapons systems.


My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do
for you—ask what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Thus spoke President John F. Kennedy at his inauguration. He hoped to encourage the nations of the world to work with him for the peace of planet Earth so as to save it from man’s destructiveness.

As for the Middle East, he hoped that the nations of that part of the world would work for peace. He tried to encourage good relations with all of the nations there, and he changed America’s relationship with Israel. Instead of following the trail blazed by fdr and adhered to by Truman and Eisenhower, he strengthened America’s friendship and support of Israel. Kennedy made sure that the Arabs knew that he would not permit Israel to be endangered by them or by such major powers as the Soviet Union. Face to face with Golda Meir he firmly declared on December 27, 1962, that America’s relationship with Israel was as important as its relationship with Great Britain. He worked with Israel and the Arab states to resolve the Arab refugee issue, and to foster cooperation between Israel and its neighbors in helping to develop and to share the water resources of Israel and its neighbors—however limited those resources may have been. He tried to persuade all the parties concerned to resolve their differences at the meeting halls of the un rather than the battlefields of the Holy Land.

Kennedy, despite the views of such individuals as Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, Robert Komer, of the National Security Council, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, realized that Israel would not be able to accept all of the Palestinian refugees and that they would have to be admitted to other states, including various Arab states.

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