The Charlotte News

Monday, June 7, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that while fighting continued in Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, chief U.N. mediator for the conflict, proposed a date for starting the agreed four-week truce. The Arab League political committee, which would pass on the date, however, would not meet until Saturday.

The Israelis claimed successes south of Tel Aviv and to the northeast around the Tulkarm-Jenin-Nablus triangle controlled by the Arabs. The Saudis were reported to have placed a considerable number of troops, with tanks and armor, alongside the Egyptians fighting in Palestine. The Syrian Army became active on the northern border.

The six participant nations in the London conference on the future of Western Germany, concluded the previous week, announced agreement of a five-point proposal for creation of a separate, federal government of Western Germany. The agreement included steps to authorize a meeting of the Allied military chiefs and the German heads of each state within Western Germany, election of delegates to a constituent assembly, drafting of a constitution by the assembly, ratification of the constitution by the German people, and consideration of necessary revisions of German state boundaries. The five proposals would have to be accepted by each participant nation, the U.S., Britain, France, and the Benelux countries. A fight in France over them was expected. It was determined that the Ruhr of Germany would not be separated therefrom but would be placed under the administration of the six nations for their benefit and that of Germany. The French, Americans, and British agreed, without prior consultation, not to withdraw their forces from Germany until the peace of Europe was secured.

This agreement laid the groundwork for the creation of NATO a year hence.

In Czechoslovakia, President Eduard Benes, 64, resigned his post rather than give his imprimatur to the Communist constitution. He had been President during two separate terms for eleven years, and was elected to serve for life in 1946. He had made his decision on May 4 in a letter transmitted to Premier Klement Gottwald, citing his doctors' advice on his health. He first became President in 1935 but had resigned in 1938 after the Munich Pact was signed and resumed the Presidency on July 21, 1940 as leader of the government-in-exile in London. The Communist takeover in February, 1948 had sharply reduced his power. The Communists had held single-ticket elections for Parliament eight days earlier. After the suicide of Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk in March, the resignation of Mr. Benes meant the loss of the last strong link to the West in Czechoslovakia's Government.

The Senate voted 67 to 7 against a proposal by Senator William Langer of North Dakota to forbid segregation in the armed forces as part of the draft legislation. The vote reflected a desire to head off a Southern filibuster on the draft but not necessarily to kill efforts to integrate the armed forces. Many Senators who favored civil rights proposals of the President voted against the amendment.

The Senate Finance Committee voted down three proposals to extend the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act by three years without changes rather than the one year extension thus far approved by the House with limiting amendments providing for Congressional oversight of the President's adjustments of tariffs.

President Truman entered Idaho, speaking at Pocatello, on his way to Sun Valley, as part of his cross-country train tour which had begun the previous Friday in Indiana and Illinois and would stretch to the West Coast, down to Los Angeles. Greeting a crowd of 500, he stated his support of reclamation and public power projects, contending that the opposition put the power interests over the welfare of the people.

He had attracted only 2,000 people in a 10,000-capacity arena in Omaha on Saturday night, attributed to bad advance notice by the local committee responsible for publicity. The state Democratic chairman, however, blamed bad advice being given to the President for the small turnout and said that he would not support him for the nomination. The celebration during the day of the 35th Division, in which the President participated, had attracted 150,000 to 200,000 along the parade route. About 5,000 had greeted him, however, at Cheyenne, Wyo., on Sunday night in front of the Executive Mansion. At Kearney, Neb., the President was presented with a pair of cowboy boots and stated that they would go well with his spurs.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts was said to be in line to become the chairman of the Republican national convention platform committee, announcement of which was expected later in the day.

John L. Lewis opened discussions on the new contract with the soft coal operators by saying that the UMW made no wage demands but wanted assurances of payments approved in the prior month's settlement from the union pension and welfare fund, held up in litigation. He called the operators "magnificently opulent" and "fatcats". The current contract was set to expire at the end of the month.

General Eisenhower assumed his new post as president of Columbia University, four years and a day after D-Day. He expressed the hope that the job would be "a lot of fun". Apparently assuming a nom de academe, the General, instructs the piece, would be known at Columbia as "Gen. Isenhower, president of Columbia University". That was probably to throw off Communist spies.

Former King Mihai of Rumania and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma arrived in Athens, Greece, and were reported to be getting married on Thursday. Their apparel on arrival is described.

In Little Rock, Ark., an Army parachutist, found hitchhiking with his open parachute dragging behind, explained that he had bailed from an Army transport to try to reach his home in Anadarko, Okla., to view his new-born child. He had intended to jump out over Oklahoma, but landed near Memphis. He had been denied a furlough for the purpose. He was turned over to authorities in Hot Springs, no doubt in a heap of trouble.

On the editorial page, "America's Role, 1920-1948" tells of the President having stated during his cross-country tour that the there would be a permanent peace only if the U.S. assumed the role God had intended for the country in 1920. But the country had abandoned that role at the time, refusing approval of participation in the League of Nations, opting instead for the "return to normalcy" championed by newly elected President Harding, with the ultimate consequences of depression and another world war.

Now, the country was faced with the prospect of a potential third world war, with devastating consequences in the nuclear age. The U.N. could only go so far toward establishing the peace, hemmed in as it was by the unilateral veto possessed by each of the Big Five members of the Security Council. The U.S. would have to assume the role of leadership.

Yet, neither major party was providing the necessary leadership toward this goal, to carry out the design set in motion in 1918-19 by President Woodrow Wilson.

"Europe's Man of Good Will" finds Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden a man of good will who inspired new hope in the U.N. The nephew of King Gustav of Sweden, he stood above nationalistic, imperialistic and class interests and was thus named the mediator by the Big Five on behalf of the U.N. for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

During the war, he had been entrusted by both sides with secrets and took an active role in the successful negotiation of exchange of prisoners of war between the Allies and Germany.

Since he began negotiations and had established the four-week truce, hope had grown for a resolution of the crisis in Palestine. It finds that to him had been entrusted the mission "which may show the war-weary world the way to a happier day."

Count Bernadotte would be assassinated by members of the Jewish Stern Gang on September 17, 1948.

"Control for America's Voice" tells of the new plan for close State Department control of Voice of America broadcasts to avoid a repeat of the controversy surrounding the NBC broadcasts to Latin America which contained offensive material, considered by Congress anti-patriotic.

The piece finds the strictures repugnant to a free press and that to counter Soviet propaganda with controlled propaganda through VOA would not advance the cause of democracy. It hopes that instead Congress would direct VOA to confine itself to news broadcasts as Britain had done for years. It finds the Asheville Citizen persuasive in stating that the story of America was a story of facts, without "fancy garnishing".

A piece from the Washington Post, titled "Women in Politics", finds the naming by the Democrats of Representative Mary Norton as head of the credentials committee for the convention to suggest that women had begun to crack the smoke-filled rooms. Many states, however, were not giving women 50-50 representation in delegations though there were more women nationally registered to vote than men.

Only seven women held seats in the House and only seven others were running in 1948, with an eighth defeated in the primary.

Women were not as active as men at the grassroots and so were not nearly as represented in state party caucuses. A smaller percentage of women had voted in 1940 than of men, 61 to 75 percent. Yet, women controlled 70 percent of private wealth in the country and had more leisure time than men to devote to politics. What they chiefly lacked was an interest in public affairs. It reminds that such an interest came to the women of Europe the hard way.

James Marlow discusses the need by June 15 for five million to seven million Americans to estimate their 1948 income tax for the second quarter in light of the recently passed tax cut. He explains the details, in case you are filing estimated taxes in 1948.

Drew Pearson finds that the census had revealed that ten million Americans were illiterate, 4.2 million of whom were native-born whites. Of the rest, 3.1 million were foreign-born whites and 2.7 million were blacks. Yet, Congress was balking at Federal aid to education, held up in committee while a discharge petition, requiring a majority to release the bill to the floor, was being circulated. The petition only had 43 signatures thus far, needing 218 to pass. Speaker Joe Martin and House Majority Leader Charles Halleck were the chief obstacles, ordering fellow Republicans not to sign. Only one had. In addition, however, House Minority Leader Sam Rayburn had instructed Southern Democrats not to sign.

U.S. literacy was probably less than that of Russia. Illiteracy was not exclusively found in the South. More than a million illiterates lived in New York, another 696,000 in Pennsylvania and 462,000 in Illinois. But 36 percent of Louisiana's population was illiterate.

With the previous year's Congressional slashing of the Voice of America budget, the State Department had farmed out the broadcasts to NBC, which then produced the controversial programming recently exposed going to Latin America. The Congress now wanted to blame the State Department for lack of oversight. The State Department had been so timid that it had not told the Congress that it was their own fault for the budget cutting.

In contrast, thousands of individual Americans were putting the country in a good light by writing letters abroad without State Department guidance. Responsible for coordinating the effort along with friendly broadcasts to foreign countries were the U.N. Council of Philadelphia, several radio stations, the World Wide Broadcasting Foundation, and several others named. Several companies had contributed prizes to the Italian Democracy contest.

Joseph Alsop looks at the probabilities of the Republican convention, to begin in Philadelphia on June 21, as viewed through the eyes of seasoned observers. The pundits believed that on the first ballot, Governor Dewey would tally more than 300 votes, Senator Taft more than 200 and Governor Stassen more than 150, with Senator Vandenberg polling 43 Michigan votes and a few from elsewhere. The convention would require 548 to nominate, suggesting a deadlock.

On the second ballot, after Governor Dewey and Senator Taft revealed their respective aces, Governor Dewey would achieve 370 or more votes and Senator Taft 250 or more, about the peak strength of the Senator.

On the third ballot, delegates would defect from favorite-son candidates to one of the leaders, bringing Governor Dewey's total to between 450 and 470. A swing to Senator Vandenberg would also occur, possibly receiving the Stassen delegates.

But because Governor Dewey would then be so close to the nomination, he would have tremendous appeal to delegations eager to nominate the next President. The support of Governor Earl Warren, with 53 delegates in his camp, might be enough to put him over the top, especially if joined by Pennsylvania's Governor James Duff, in control of 73 delegates.

But if Governor Dewey did not make it by the fourth ballot, defections might begin to Senator Vandenberg. House Speaker Joe Martin also might then become a prospect.

Marquis Childs examines the "non-political" tour of the country by the President at taxpayer expense, finds the total cost would be only $15,000, to be paid from the President's annual $30,000 travel allowance, less than that allowed for the British Ambassador to the U.S.

Nevertheless, he suggests, it appeared sounder to have charged the amount to the DNC, but for the fact that the DNC treasury was nearly empty with the prospects of the President's election practically nil. By contrast, the RNC accounts were bursting at the seams, with large contributors placing pressures on the candidates.

The facts had led to calls for the presidential campaign to be paid out of the Federal Treasury, eliminating the special interest money.

Republican candidates had spent vast sums, with Harold Stassen charging that Governor Dewey had spent $250,000 in Oregon. Senator Taft reportedly had spent $150,000 in his native Ohio, albeit part of which coming from his own pocket. The Stassen campaign was supposedly facing a $100,000 deficit.

While the President's tour appeared as chicken feed in the face of such opposition spending, Mr. Childs believes that the labeling of the trip as something other than a campaign trip would haunt him.

A letter writer solicits funds for the Charlotte Life Saving Crew, a group of twenty young business and professional men who formed the organization a year earlier to save lives at all hours of the day and night, supplementing Charlotte's emergency services.

British Hated by Both Sides

Robert Kennedy, Special Writer for Post, Struck by Antipathy Shown by "Arabs and Jews"

By Robert Kennedy—June 3, 1948, for The Boston Post

Certainly if Arthur Balfour, Britain's foreign minister during the first World War, had realized the conflicting interpretations which were to be placed on his famous "declaration" calling for a homeland for the Jews, he probably would have drawn it with its meaning clearer and saved the world the bloodshed that its double promises have caused. In his attempt to conciliate both Jews and Arabs in a time of distress for the British empire, he conciliated neither.

No great thought was given to it at the time, for Palestine was then a relatively unimportant country. There were then not the great numbers of homeless Jews that we have now and no one believed then that the permission granted for Jewish immigration would lead 30 years later to world turmoil on whether a national home should mean an autonomous national state.

First let us consider the viewpoint of the Arabs in regard to the national homeland promised to the Jews in the Balfour Declaration.

The Arabs by word and deed leave no question in anyone's mind how they feel. They argue that the Balfour Declaration supports their point that no national state was promised, pointing to the clauses in the declaration that says the national home shall be set up subject to the civil rights of the people living in Palestine at this time. In recent years they have pointed to the United Nations charter and the Article dealing with the self-determination of nations. Let us adhere to that, the Arabs say, and let the people, that is the Arabs who are involved, decide the question by the democratic processes. If this policy of participation was truly adhered to they say, then why couldn't there be a partition with the "the" partition set aside for the Arab minorities?

The Arabs are most concerned about the great increase in the Jews in Palestine: 80,000 in 1948. The Arabs have always feared this encroachment and maintain that the Jews will never be satisfied with just their section of Palestine, but will gradually move to overpower the rest of the country and will eventually move onto the enormously wealthy oil lands. They are determined that the Jews will never get the toehold that would be necessary for the fulfillment of that policy.

Always Will Attack

They are willing to let the Jews remain as peaceful citizens subject to the rule of the Arab majority just as the Arabs are doing in such great number in Egypt and the Levant states, but they are determined that a separate Jewish state will be attacked and attacked until it is finally cut out like an unhealthy abscess.

The Arabs believe they contributed greatly to making the Allied victory possible in the first World War. At the Paris peace conference they felt that they received nothing comparable to what they were promised for their fight under Lawrence against the Turks. Rather, due to power politics, British and French domination replaced that of the Ottoman empire. The Arab leaders attribute their country's backwardness to these 400 uninterrupted years of subservience to the Ottoman empire.

The Jewish people on the other hand believe that if it were not for the wars and invasions that racked Palestine and which sent them scattered and persecuted throughout the world, Palestine would today be theirs.

It would be theirs just as when Moses led them from Egypt into the Palestinian plains which they point out were unoccupied except for a few Bedouin tribes.

Set Up Laboratories

Under the supposition that, at the finish of the mandate, this was to be their national state, they went to work. They set up laboratories where world-famous scientists could study and analyze soils and crops. The combination of arduous labor and almost unlimited funds from the United States changed what was once arid desert into flourishing orange groves.

Soils had to be washed of salt, day after day, year after year, before crops could be planted. One can see this work going on in lesser or more advanced stages wherever there are Jewish settlements in Palestine.

From a small village of a few thousand inhabitants, Tel Aviv has grown into a most impressive modern metropolis of over 200,000. They have truly done much with what all agree was very little.

The Jews point with pride to the fact that over 500,000 Arabs in the 12 years between 1932 and 1944, came into Palestine to take advantage of living conditions existing in no other Arab state. This is the only country in the Near and Middle East where an Arab middle class is in existence.

The Jews point out that they have always taken a passive part in the frequent revolutions that have racked the country, because of the understanding that they would eventually be set free from British mandateship. They wished to do nothing to impair this expected action.

During the second World War they sent numerous volunteer Jewish brigades which fought commendably with the British in Italy. In addition to that, many Palestinian Jews fought as volunteers with Allied troops throughout the world and still others were dropped by parachute into German-held territory as espionage agents. They were perhaps doing no more than their duty, but they did their duty well.

The Jews feel that promise after promise to them has been broken. They can quote freely, for example, from speech after speech of Labor Party leaders in the election campaign prior to the victory of the Labor Party in England, to attest to the fact that one need not even refer back to the controversial Balfour declaration to learn Britain's attitude and promises toward a Jewish state that was to be one of the first acts of the Labor government if it were put into power. The Jews, remembering this, have rather bitterly named the block bombed out in the Ben Yehuda disaster, "Bevin square."

It is an unfortunate fact that because there are such well founded arguments on either side each grows more and more bitter toward the other. Confidence in their right increases in proportion to the hatred and mistrust for the other side for not acknowledging it.

Never Searched

I became immediately aware of it. I carried letters of introduction to both Arabs and Jews and at the airport where both sides intermingle it was explained to me by first one and then the other that I was taking a great risk. The Jew said it was all right for me to carry Arab papers in Jewish territory for I wouldn't be molested, but when I entered Arab territory I had better be rid of all letters to Jews for I would immediately be searched and, if they found anything, would be quickly shot. The Arab said exactly the opposite and I found both to be half right, in that I was never searched by either side.

Another fact I became immediately aware of was a basic violent hatred of the British by both sides. I talked to a British army sergeant who had been in Palestine for two years, and he placed the blame with the Palestine Colonial Police. Later I found many to be in agreement. He called them the "underpaid uneducated dregs of society." They were evidently the most corrupt group of police in the world, firstly because they were so underpaid and, secondly, because when colonial police were sent to their posts the worst of the lot were invariably sent to Palestine.

The Arab bitterness and also fear toward the British had as its starting point the 1936-1938 revolution, which was crushed most ruthlessly by the British.

Increasing Bitterness

Leading Arabs in the higher committee speak in all sincerity of the Indian brought by the British into the country because of the great skill and knowledge that he possessed in being able to torture with fire while leaving no scar tissue. Many claim to have suffered by having their nails pulled out from their fingers and toes and others of having burning matches thrust beneath their nails. I found little evidence that these stories were true.

The Jewish attitude toward the British has been one of increasing bitterness. The Jews have looked upon the British civil administration, which some years ago took over from the army, as most unfriendly and uncooperative and which has therefore led to much mutual distrust. Jews received virtually no financial help for building schools and hospitals in Jewish settlements and the post office which was set up to serve Tel Aviv wasn't suitable for a village of several thousand inhabitants. I was forced to wait well over an hour in line in order to purchase stamps.

When told if they wanted a port they would have to build it themselves, the result was the port of Tel Aviv, which was constructed entirely through Jewish capital and labor. Nevertheless, it is taxed as high as the Arab port of Jaffa, which was built and maintained by funds raised by taxing both Arabs and Jews. These arguments are infinitesimal compared with the larger issues that have swept both sides during the last year, but they are mentioned to show that the hate that exists now is not something newly born and has a substantial background.

The foregoing four pieces presented since Friday, appearing June 3 through 6, 1948 in The Boston Post, were based on Robert Kennedy's observations gleaned during his visit in Palestine from March through mid-May, departing just before the end of the British mandate on May 15.

Mr. Kennedy, then 22, had just lost his sister Kathleen in a plane crash over France on May 13.

Having just graduated from Harvard in March, he would next attend law school at the University of Virginia, would go on to serve as chief counsel for the McClellan Senate Labor Rackets Committee from 1957 to 1959, would serve from 1961 through summer, 1964 as Attorney General under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and would be elected Senator from the State of New York in 1964.

Two weeks before President Johnson declared in March, 1968 that he would not seek the Democratic nomination, Senator Kennedy entered the race but, just after winning the California primary on the night of June 4, would be shot fatally in Los Angeles at the Ambassador Hotel just after midnight following a rally of supporters. He would pass away on June 6, exactly twenty years after the last of these articles was published.

The convicted assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, was a Palestinian national of Jordanian heritage who, while denying any memory of the shooting, admitted that he had been especially upset with Senator Kennedy for a feeling of betrayal after the Senator announced that he intended, if elected, to authorize the shipment of 50 Sabre jets to Israel. Sirhan contended, nevertheless, that he did not go to the Ambassador that night with the intent to shoot the Senator. The date of June 5, on which the shooting occurred, coincided with the first anniversary of the start of the Six-Day War which had ended in victory for Israel and Sirhan had ventured into a Jewish neighborhood on the evening of June 4, seeking attendance of a rally of Jewish residents celebrating the anniversary, eventually hearing of the RFK rally and winding up at the Ambassador later that night. At trial, Sirhan, 24 at the time of the shooting, stated that he had shot Senator Kennedy with "twenty years of malice aforethought", in reference to the start of the war between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine in 1947-48.

While there is no doubt that Sirhan fired several shots in the direction of Senator Kennedy, the angle of the three wounds, upward and from the rear, and the coroner's estimated distance from their source, inches away, suggest that Sirhan, by all accounts in front of the Senator and no closer than 3 to 5 feet, could not have fired the shots which struck him. Evidence exists that a second gun was being fired at the time in the pantry, confirmed by several percipient witnesses, post-trial ballistics analysis in 1971 which found a mismatch between a bullet from one of the wounded bystanders and that retrieved from Senator Kennedy, and, more recently, acoustic analysis of an extant audio recording of the shooting which surfaced in 2008, alleged to demonstrate 12 to 14 shots. At least one percipient witness, a CBS correspondent, identified a security guard as also firing his weapon at the time of the assassination.

A security guard, by all accounts including his own, was standing to the right and immediately to the rear of the Senator, coinciding with the location of the putative source of the wounds. Several percipient witnesses claim to have heard as many as 12 to 14 shots, consistent with the number of wounds in the Senator and the five struck bystanders plus two bullets found lodged in the door frame of the pantry, more than the eight bullets capable of being fired by Sirhan's .22-caliber pistol. The security guard, an admitted supporter of George Wallace in 1968 and at the time quite openly opposed to the civil rights program of the Kennedy-Johnson Administrations and integration generally, owned a .22-caliber pistol at the time of the shooting, though he claimed later to police that he had a .38-caliber pistol that night, that he pulled it out as he fell to the floor in the melee next to the Senator, but never fired. His gun was never checked by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Nonetheless, for the felony-murder rule in California, all of those facts would not lessen the legal culpability of Sirhan for the assassination, whether the fatal shots were determined to come from another gun deliberately or from accidental discharge. Sirhan minimally committed a felony assault which directly resulted in a death during its course.

Sirhan has always maintained that he was not part of a conspiracy. But he also maintains that he was in a "dissociative fugue state" at the time of the shooting, recalls events just prior to entering the pantry where the shooting occurred and being grabbed by a group of men just after the shooting, but not the shooting itself. Subsequent experiments on Sirhan under hypnosis have produced the conclusion that he was easily hypnotized and highly suggestive, thus an ideal subject, coupled with his pre-existing animus toward Senator Kennedy, for brainwashing.

The last night of Senator Kennedy's life was spent at the Los Angeles home of political supporter John Frankenheimer, director of the 1962 film "The Manchurian Candidate" and the 1964 film "Seven Days in May", among many other films.

A poignantly memorable train ride carrying the remains of the Senator from New York, where the funeral took place, to Arlington, ensued. Senator Kennedy had adopted, to good advantage, the 1948 Truman strategy of a whistle-stop campaign during the primaries. While not a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination, heavily contested with Vice-President Humphrey and Senator Eugene McCarthy, the California victory had given him great momentum heading into the Chicago convention—a convention which, in the wake of the events of the spring, the assassinations in rapid succession of two of the country's boldest, most progressive, and youngest leaders, ultimately turned into chaos in the streets.

What might have been cannot be ventured with certainty. But the promise and ideals articulated during Senator Kennedy's last campaign still live.

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