An Epistle to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
As you know, I have supported your bid for the presidency even before you declared last spring. I have admired and believed in you for years, and when you entered the race I felt hope for the first time in decades that your non-violent impulses, honed by your tragic family history and a deep revulsion for our country’s imperial wars and violent history, would triumph and usher in a new era of peace. Despite the naysayers who dismissed you from the start, I said Yes, that you would shock those who ridiculed and maligned you and that you would be the man to carry out President Kennedy’s American University speech and fulfill his and your father’s legacy of “not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women” because “we all breathe the same air” and “we all cherish our children’s futures” and “we are all mortal.”
I suggested that you would heal the divide and not expand it. Seeing you stumble on your way by throwing your full support to the Zionist leaders of Israel has been a body blow to me. At first I thought it might be explained by your reaction to the false antisemitic accusations that were hurled your way once word emerged that you might enter the presidential race. But as time went on it dawned on me that I was wrong and that you were in sync with the powerful Israel Lobby. So now, I feel as if we are in the tenth round of fight for your soul’s compassion. That you have not defended the children of Gaza and condemned their massacre by the thousands has shocked and sickened me.
As a scholar of religion and its intersection with politics, I have been meditating on current events.
Religion has for a very long time been used as a cover for slaughtering people and seizing their land. This is true for the United States and Israel. It is built into their theological underpinnings. So it should not be at all surprising that the current Israeli massacre of Palestinians is fully supported by the U.S. government led by President Joseph Biden and by almost every presidential aspirant. You, however, as a self-styled anti-war candidate are a great surprise to me, although I may be naïve and shouldn’t be since you gave your unequivocal support to the Israel government a month ago, following the October 7 Hamas-led incursion into Israel that killed innocent Israelis (many of whom were also probably killed by the IDF as Jonathan Cooke has reported). Despite that, I still expected your conscience would surely prompt you to condemn what can only be described as genocide, the slaughter of the innocents in Gaza that is ongoing.
You have undermined your claim to “end the forever wars” and to defend children. Why you have done (or not done) this is a question that so many of your supporters and former supporters are asking. Only you can say. Perhaps we might only know if you unequivocally condemned Israel’s actions and faced whatever might come your way as a result. This is unlikely, I now realize, but one can still hope. I think it would take a spiritual miracle of moral courage, because of your claim that your historical analysis that you say is sincere and true that Israel now and always has been the just and innocent party and the Palestinians the evil ones. I find your analysis unbelievable and your silence as innocents are being slaughtered indefensible, even as I
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