A Young John F. Kennedy’s Unimpressive Musings on Nazi Germany and Zionism

Reviewing the first volume of a new biography of JFK by the Harvard historian Fredrik Logevall, P.J. O’Rourke reflects on why a “distant, hazy, reminiscent glow lingers” in the air around the Kennedys. The dynasty’s founding patriarch, Joseph, Sr., was, in O’Rourke’s words, “a priapic, stock-jobbing, isolationist, defeatist, Hitler-appeasing anti-Semite,” who was recalled from his absurd posting as ambassador to Great Britain and resigned in disgrace in 1941. Yet, although his son John Fitzgerald would, as president, uphold the U.S.-Israel relationship, his earlier judgments were less inspiring:

Logevall wants us to see Jack as a keen and thoughtful observer of international politics, even on a 1937 college-summer-vacation jaunt through Europe. Then he quotes the kid. “Fascism seems to treat them well,” Jack wrote in his diary after two days in Milan. At an inn in Munich, Jack noted, “Had a talk with the proprietor who is quite the Hitler fan. There is no doubt about it that these dictators are more popular in the country than outside due to their effective propaganda.”

After graduation in 1939, Jack (with hospitality and official contacts arranged by ambassador dad) traveled through Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Logevall insists on taking us along. According to Jack, after visiting Danzig, “the situation up there is very complicated.” Jack finds the USSR “crude, backward, and hopelessly bureaucratic.” In Palestine Jack thinks . . . what people who think they are thinkers think to this very day: “The important thing is to try to work out a solution that will work, . . . two autonomous districts giving them both self-government.”

Logevall doesn’t let us turn our eyes away from Jack’s diary account of his 1945 postwar visit to Germany. “You can,” Kennedy wrote, “easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived.” Well, “significant” is one way to put it. . . . Logevall makes much of Jack’s Harvard senior thesis, which combined tepid criticism of appeasement with lukewarm apology for it.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Isolationism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, John F. Kennedy, Nazi Germany


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy