Ted Kennedy Became Part of Our Family

[Tablet] Sarah Wildman - Ted Kennedy was the youngest son of one of the most rabid isolationists, an old-school anti-Semite in the mold of Father Coughlin. But Joe Kennedy's sons rebelled against that anti-Semitism. The Kennedys and the Jews emerged as stalwarts of an established progressive caucus. The shift reflected a larger movement toward a declining tolerance of cultural anti-Semitism. Maybe it wouldn't have been Ted to cement that bond, if his brothers had lived. But he took the mantle of philo-Semitism up as though it was his idea from the outset. "Kennedy, although not of the World War II generation exactly, was from the Hubert Humphrey-Alan Cranston school of liberals who were passionately pro-Israel, partially because the World War II vets among them had witnessed the Holocaust," said Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University. "Kennedy's consistent support for Israel, along with his support for Soviet Jewry, were givens, not in the sense of being taken for granted, but in the sense of being so central to his identity and worldview, it was assumed." In Kennedy's half-century in public office, he was a consistent champion of "Jewish" issues, and he worked tirelessly for Soviet Jewish refuseniks from the early 1970s - well before the cause was widely supported.

2009-08-28 08:00:00

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