History lesson: “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
John Parisella remembers Bobby Kennedy in the new issue of THE METROPOLITAIN, a recently launched bilingual journal of reflection, opinion and the arts in Montreal.
Here is an excerpt:
On the night of the King assassination, Kennedy was scheduled to speak in Indianapolis to a group of citizens including a large contingent of African Americans. Internet and all-news stations did not exist at the time, and Bobby announced the bad news to the crowd. That this city was the only major US city to avoid a riot is largely attributed to Bobby.
Time Magazine columnist, Joe Klein, in his book ‘Politics Lost’ refers to Kennedy’s speech as the
last great authentic address made by a leading politician in recent times. He may be right.
When addressing the crowd, Kennedy spoke without notes and, in his unique way, referred to poets to bring solace to the devastated crowd. He quoted the Greek poet, Aeschylus, who wrote:
“In our sleep,
pain which cannot forget falls drop
by drop upon the heart until, in our
own despair, against our will, comes
wisdom through the awful grace of God”.
He then asked the crowd to dedicate themselves “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
Two months later, June 5, 1968, after winning the California primary against his rival, McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy was shot and pronounced dead on June 6. He was just 42
The Bobby I remember is the one who literally grew before our very eyes. From the tragic assassination of his brother on November 22, 1963, we saw the transformation of Bobby
Kennedy. From the ruthless, efficient backroom operative to a compassionate, inspiring and idealistic leader who was able to bring together rich and poor, old and young, black and white, and the disadvantaged to believe once again that politics was a noble endeavor and the ideals of America were worth cherishing and defending in the world. People cried when he died and his last remaining brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, eulogized him “as a good and decent
man who saw wrong and tried to right it, who saw war and tried to stop it, who saw suffering and tried to heal it”.
Robert Kennedy in Palestine
Established in 1976, the Jerusalem Center focuses on the main issues affecting Israel's security and international standing in order to wage the war of ideas in global opinion.
In April 1948, one month before Israel declared independence, Robert Kennedy, then 22, traveled to Palestine to report on the conflict for the Boston Post. His four dispatches from the scene were published in June 1948. The newspaper closed in 1956, and for decades the reports were virtually forgotten.
*Unfortunately for [the Jews, Jerusalem's water]
reservoir is situated in the mountains and it and the whole pipeline are
controlled by the Arabs. The British would not let them cut the water off until
after May 15th but an Arab told me they would not even do it then. First they
would poison it."
*The Arab responsible for the blowing up of
the Jewish Agency on March 11, 1948, said "that after the explosion, upon
reaching the British post which separated the Jewish section from a small
neutral zone set up in the middle of Jerusalem, he was questioned by the British
officers in charge. He quite freely admitted what he had done and was given
immediate passage with the remark, ‘Nice going.'"
* "The Jews informed the British government that 600
Iraqi troops were going to cross into Palestine from Trans-Jordan by the Allenby
Bridge on a certain date and requested the British to take appropriate action to
prevent this passage. The troops crossed unmolested....I saw several thousand
non-Palestinian Arab troops in Palestine, including many of the famed
British-trained and equipped Arab legionnaires of King Abdullah [of
Trans-Jordan]. There were also soldiers from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq."
* "The Arabs in command believe that eventually
victory must be theirs. It is against all law and nature that this Jewish state
should exist. They...promise that if it does become a reality it will never have
as neighbors anything but hostile countries, which will continue the fight
militarily and economically until victory is achieved."
* "The Jews on the other hand believe that in a few
more years, if a Jewish state is formed, it will be the only stabilizing factor
remaining in the Near and Middle East. The Arab world is made up of many
disgruntled factions which would have been at each other's throats long ago if
it had not been for the common war against Zionism."