In the 1990s, a couple of bestsellers brought to the knowledge of a large public the fact that JFKâs assassination in 1963 solved an intense crisis over Israelâs secret nuclear program. In one of his last letters to Kennedy, quoted by Seymour Hersh in The Samson Option (1991), Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion complained: âMr. President, my people have the right to exist [â¦] and this existence is in danger.â The nuclear option was judged vital for Israel, and JFK opposed it. A Haaretz review of Avner Cohenâs book Israel and the Bomb (1998) puts it this way:
âThe murder of American President John F. Kennedy brought to an abrupt end the massive pressure being applied by the US administration on the government of Israel to discontinue the nuclear program. Cohen demonstrates at length the pressures applied by Kennedy on Ben-Gurion. [â¦] The book implied that, had Kennedy remained alive, it is doubtful whether Israel would today have a nuclear option.â
Also openly discussed by Israeli historians today are the close connections between Ben-Gurionâs network in the U.S. and what Tel-Aviv professor Robert Rockaway calls âGangsters for Zionâ, including the infamous âMurder, Incorporatedâ, run by Bugsy Siegel and then by Mickey Cohen, Jack Rubyâs mentor.
That Israel had the motive and the means of killing JFK does not prove that Israel did it. But I am quite certain that today, most smart Israelis assume and half-approve that Ben-Gurion ordered the elimination of JFK in order to replace him by Lyndon Johnson, whose love for Israel is also now widely celebrated, to the point that some speculate he might have been a secret Jew.
In Ben-Gurionâs mind, making Israel a nuclear state was a matter of life and death, and obliterating any obstacle was an absolute necessity. In Netanyahuâs mind today, preventing Iranâor any other enemy of Israelâfrom becoming a nuclear state is of the same order of necessity, and would surely justify eliminating another U.S. president in order to replace him by a more supportive Vice President.