Jewish / Zionist perspectives on the John F. Kennedy assassination anniverary

John F. Kennedy (like his brother Robert F. Kennedy) was quite Zionistic.  Read excerpts of address by 1960 US presidential candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy to Zionists of America Convention, Statler Hilton Hotel, New York,  August 26, 1960 The American Presidency Project at Univ of Calif, Santa Barbara

"I first saw Palestine in 1939. There the neglect and ruin left by centuries of Ottoman misrule were slowly being transformed by miracles of labor and sacrifice. But Palestine was still a land of promise in 1939, rather than a land of fulfillment. I returned in 1951 to see the grandeur of Israel. In 3 years this new state had opened its doors to 600,000 immigrants and refugees. Even while fighting for its own survival, Israel had given new hope to the persecuted and new dignity to the pattern of Jewish life. I left with the conviction that the United Nations may have conferred on Israel the credentials of nationhood; but its own idealism and courage, its own sacrifice and generosity, had earned the credentials of immortality.



Some do not agree. Three weeks ago I said in a public statement: "Israel is here to stay." The next day I was attacked by Cairo radio, rebuking me for my faith in Israel, and quoting this criticism from the Arabic newspaper Al-Gomhouria:
As for the question of the existence and the nonexistence of Israel, Mr. Kennedy says that Israel has been created in order to exist. Time will judge between us, Mr. Kennedy.
I agree. Time will judge whether Israel will continue to exist. But I wish I could be as sure of all my prophecies as I am of my flat prediction that Israel is here to stay.

For Israel was not created in order to disappear - Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom; and no area of the world has ever had an overabundance of democracy and freedom.


It is worth remembering, too, that Israel is a cause that stands beyond the ordinary changes and chances of American public life. In our pluralistic society, it has not been a Jewish cause - any more than Irish independence was solely the concern of Americans of Irish descent. The ideals of Zionism have, in the last half century, been repeatedly endorsed by Presidents and Members of Congress from both parties. Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter. It is a national commitment."

Who was Abraham Zapruder, the man who inadvertantly filmed the moment of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963?  From "As he filmed, Abraham Zapruder knew instantly that President Kennedy was dead" by , in the Washington Post  Nov., 21, 2013




Abraham Zapruder had moved to Dallas from Brooklyn in 1941 with his wife, Lillian, and their children Myrna, 6, and Henry, 2. 

He hadn’t wanted to go at first, his daughter told the Oral History Project at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas in 1997. 

His family lived in an apartment in a four-unit building. His mother lived down the hall. Two sisters lived upstairs with their husbands. 

They had all been part of the great wave of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s. The Zapruders had come from Kovel, in what was then Russia, now northwestern Ukraine. 

The Nazis would later murder thousands of Kovel’s Jews during World War II. 

Zapruder’s daughter said her father’s childhood in Russia had been one of misery and starvation. Zapruder’s father, Israel, had emigrated to the United States about 1915, during the chaos of World War I. Zapruder followed in 1920. He was 15. He learned English and went to work as a pattern maker on Seventh Avenue in New York’s garment district. 


In 1941, at the invitation of a friend, he applied for a job in Dallas and became production manager for the Nardis sportswear company. 

In the 1950s, he went into business for himself, founding one clothing company that failed and another, Jennifer Juniors, that was a success. 

Its factory was on two floors of the Dal-Tex Building across the street from the Texas School Book Depository, which would later give the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, his sniper position. 

The forgotten camera 

Zapruder had not brought his snazzy movie camera to work the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, and his secretary, Lillian Rogers, noticed right away. “Where’s your camera?” she demanded. Everyone knew the president was in town, and his motorcade would be passing right outside. Zapruder said his camera was home, according to author William Manchester’s book about the assassination, “Death of a President.” 

 “Mr. Z, you march right back there,” his secretary ordered. “How many times will you have a crack at color movies of the president?” “Okay, Lillian, okay!” he joked. “So I’m going!” 

His business partner, Erwin Schwartz, told him he was nuts. That motorcade would be going a hundred miles an hour when it passed Dealey Plaza outside. “You won’t get to see anything,” Schwartz said. 

Zapruder had been fascinated with photography for years. He’d had a darkroom to develop pictures back in Brooklyn and was always shooting movies of the family. He lived 10 minutes away. He went to fetch his camera.  


Two bullets 

 As the president’s motorcade came down Houston Street and turned left onto Elm Street that morning, Zapruder, wearing a dark fedora, was standing on a concrete wall aiming his camera with its telephoto lens. 

He fired off 132 frames as the motorcycle policemen ahead of the president rounded the corner, and then he stopped, to save film. 

At Frame 133, the president’s open-topped car appears. The sun glints off the front bumpers. The first lady, in her pink suit, is faintly visible in the back seat. 

The president casually raises his right hand to wave, and then around Frame 201 he starts to disappear behind the highway sign that blocks Zapruder’s view. 

When the president emerges, at Frame 225, he’s been hit the first time. He slumps toward his wife. As a streetlight zooms by, the camera wavers, and the car starts to slip to the bottom of Zapruder’s images. 

Film frenzy 

Zapruder was “hysterical” in the minutes after the assassination, his secretary recalled in a 1966 interview with broadcast personality Marvin Scott, according to a Sixth Floor Museum transcript. 

 He screamed at people. He went back to his office and kicked and banged on his desk, according to an essay his granddaughter, Alexandra, wrote in a new Life coffee-table book about the assassination, “The Day Kennedy Died.” (Alexandra, an author who lives in Chevy Chase, declined through a publicist to be interviewed for this article.) 

His secretary offered him a drink. “What are you talking about?” he told her. “Who wants a drink now?” When his business partner called to ask where Mr. Z was, a receptionist said: “He’s in his office crying.” But Zapruder also knew what he had in his camera. “I knew I had something,” he told the Warren Commission. “I figured it might be of some help — I didn’t know what.” Zapruder got the film developed that afternoon.

In the end, Life Magazine agreed to pay Zapruder $150,000 for the film and rights. But he was sensitive about the money. He didn’t want the amount disclosed, according to Richard B. Trask, whose 2005 book, “National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film,” chronicles the story of the film. 


And as a gesture, he donated $25,000 of the money to the widow of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, who had been slain by Oswald about 45 minutes after the assassination. When Zapruder was asked by the Warren Commission how much he was paid for the film, he seemed uncomfortable. He would only say he received the $25,000 that he gave to Tippit’s widow. The commission didn’t press him. 

Final disposition 

Abraham Zapruder died of cancer Aug. 30, 1970, in Dallas.

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