Answers In Prophecy: The Strategy of Peace

Israel is certain to survive...nations should accept that fact

Jim Fletcher 88 224 (photo credit: )
Jim Fletcher 88 224
(photo credit: )
It's too bad we remember primarily the blonde in the tight sequined dress, breathlessly singing "Happy Birthday" to the president. John Kennedy's career was more than Marilyn Monroe. The man's gravitas isn't as appreciated as it might be. One realizes this when reading his 1960 book, The Strategy of Peace. Kennedy was better prepared to be president than many thought in those days. While "there were mistakes" (Bay of Pigs), he also led us through October, 1962. Kennedy's book, not as well known as others like Profiles in Courage, is a fascinating look at global geopolitics. In particular, his take on the Arab-Israeli crisis is quite instructive. Kennedy visited Israel twice, pre-state and once after. He thought the transformation of the land by the Jews was nothing less than astonishing. Tellingly, his 1939 visit confirmed what many had known for some time: the place was a wasteland. Many have quoted Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, chronicling Twain's travels. Trekking through Palestine, Tom Sawyer's alter ego proclaimed the biblical land to be desolate. Kennedy concurred, just a few years before statehood! He knew that the Arabs had flooded into the country when jobs opened up in the new state of Israel. Note his observations: "Israel is the bright light now shining in the Middle East. We, and ultimately Israel's neighbors, have much to learn from this center of democratic illumination, of unprecedented economic development, of human pioneering and intelligence and perseverance. "In 1939 I first saw Palestine, then an unhappy land under alien rule, and to a large extent then a barren land. In the words of Israel Zangwill: 'The land without a people waited for the people without a land.' In 1951, I traveled again to the land by the River Jordan, to see firsthand the new State of Israel. The transformation that had taken place was hard to believe." Kennedy was famously Catholic, but evidently his father's anti-Semitism and that of bigots like Father Coughlin didn't rub off on the handsome young Kennedy. The story goes that after becoming president, he was riding one day with the evangelist Billy Graham. The North Carolina preacher was under the weather that day, and the bleak, cold weather outside wasn't cooperating. Kennedy wanted to know Graham's thoughts on the biblical signs of the end of the world, but Graham excused himself, too ill to converse. One wonders what exactly was on JFK's mind that day, shortly before he died. In Strategy, Kennedy makes a most remarkable statement, one that could not have been solely derived from his political instincts: "It is time that all the nations of the world, in the Middle East and elsewhere, realized that Israel is here to stay. Surrounded on every side by violent hate and prejudice, living each day in an atmosphere of constant tension and fear, Israel is certain to survive the present crisis and all future crises; and all negotiations between the United States and Arab nations should accept that fact." (emphasis added) Kennedy was in the minority in this view, among the political elite of the day. Everyone from State Department officials to the buffoonish Nasser of Egypt were certain that Israel was but a speck of dust in the eye, to be washed out and gone after a bit. John Kennedy was a smart guy. He was a voracious reader and no doubt had read the Bible, like many of his predecessors such as John Adams and Harry Truman. They knew what he knew, what the prophets had proclaimed so long ago: Israel is certain to survive. Jim Fletcher is a member of the executive committee of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI). He can be reached at [email protected] Previous Entries What is the deal with the Old Testament? What if the Bible is true? By the power of God Religion and academia Not enough good teaching material Our Jewish Roots - Educate, educate, educate