In the 1960s, Abraham (Abe) Feinberg and Myer (Mike) Feldman played key roles in facilitating the relations between the White House and Jerusalem. Neither was formally connected with any Jewish or Israeli institution; nor did either man hold a diplomatic position. Thus their efforts thus took place outside of the public spotlight. Abraham Ben-Zvi and Gadi Warsha tell their stories:
The two resolved to dedicate their time and efforts to bolstering Israel, not for financial reasons or vanity, but primarily so that they could advance what they considered shared interests by the two countries. Feldman was a successful and wealthy lawyer from Philadelphia when he was tapped by President Kennedy to be the liaison officer between the White House and the Jewish community. Feinberg was a philanthropist and a businessman from a family that made its wealth in the textile industry. Although he had been wielding influence in Democratic administrations since 1948, capitalizing on his ties, he became a real mover and shaker under Johnson, when he turned into a secret envoy for Israel, enjoying the [complete] trust of the president.
[Feldman’s] first action, which he undertook together with Feinberg, was in arranging the unofficial meeting between then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and John F. Kennedy in New York in May 1961. This was not just a logistical matter—it was complicated due to fierce opposition by some circles in the administration. Feldman ultimately wielded his unique influence on the presidential decision-making process in the run-up to the procurement deal with Israel for Hawk surface-to-air missiles: for the first time, a U.S. administration agreed to transfer sophisticated weapon systems to Israel. This created an important precedent on the path charted by Ben-Gurion as he sought to make Washington Israel’s main arms supplier.