2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Friends or Allies? U.S.-Israeli Relations During the Kennedy and the Johnson Administrations, 1961-1966
Ryan S. Lewis
Dr. Thomas Zoumaras, Faculty Mentor

Historians commonly point to the Presidency of John F. Kennedy as the turning point in establishing an US-Israeli alliance. Initially, JFK appeared to follow in his predecessors’ footsteps by personally opening diplomatic channels to President Nasser in 1961. Despite vast amounts of economic aid, US-Nasser relations were shaky at best. In late 1962, President Kennedy provided a public assurance that the U.S. would aid Israel militarily if invaded and approved the sale of the advanced HAWKS missiles. Much of the historiography indicates that JFK’s aid established the foundation for a future US-Israeli alliance, but this perspective makes light of his clash with Israel’s government over their secret nuclear reactor, repatriation of Palestinians, and the Jordan River crisis. When Lyndon Johnson took office, these problems remained unresolved and the alliance unsecured. This paper seeks to amend current historiography by uncovering the apprehensions of both President Kennedy and President Johnson over an US-Israeli alliance.

Keywords: JFK, Johnson, Israel, Ben Gurion, HAWKS, U.S., Alliance, Nasser


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 65-3
Location: VH 1320
Time: 3:15 pm

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