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.


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