An Epistle to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular – but one must take it simply because it is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

By Edward J. Curtin, Jr.

Dear Bobby,

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.

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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 applaud so many of your other positions, as you know.  Everyone knows that running for the U.S. presidency creates strange bedfellows, but your touting of the Israeli propaganda in which you conflate the Palestinian people with Hamas to justify massacring civilians is beyond strange – it is immoral.

I know how much you respect Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and you no doubt have heard his words before.

“And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular – but one must take it simply because it is right.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Conscience calls to you, Bobby.  Be true to that voice within.  Politic as it may be, there is a heavy burden of guilt for abandoning the Palestinians to slaughter by silence.  King learned this when he saw those photos of the napalmed and dead Vietnamese children and was conscience-stricken to come to Riverside Church in New York to give his speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.”  You can do the same.  The pictures of dead Palestinian children, victims of U.S. support for Israeli bombs, are there to see.  Martin quoted your uncle, John, that “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  He said that we can no longer worship the God of hate and retribution.  He said, “Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted.”

You too, Bobby, can break your silence, step up high and let your conscience also leave you no other choice but to condemn the genocide in Gaza.  As Martin said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

You say you are making “a moral case for Israel” as the justified party in its seventy-five year long war with the Palestinians.  In doing so you have reneged on your campaign promise to emulate President John Kennedy, who would be appalled by your silence. Your website, Kennedy 24, declares that “[you] Kennedy will revive a lost thread of American foreign policy thinking, the one championed by his uncle, John F. Kennedy who, over his 1000 days in office, had become a firm anti-imperialist.”  In genuflecting to the Israel genocide while touting your connection to JFK and your father, Senator Robert Kennedy, you have in fact taken a position toward Israel diametrically opposed to theirs.  One could sense this coming when under pressure this past summer, you withdrew your support for Roger Waters, a strong Palestinian supporter who was falsely accused of being anti-Jewish, and you then allowed your “friend” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to say that Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian, killed your father in 1968 when you knew that was a lie and was part of a sophisticated intelligence conspiracy to blame the patsy who was said to hate Israel.  To allow Shmuley to audaciously and heartlessly repeat a CIA trope about your father’s assassination was a telltale sign of worse to come.

For both the U.S. and Israel, the Bible has been used to cover up the crimes of their foundings.  They have analogous histories rooted in religious myths.  In both cases, the indigenous peoples were considered less than human – savages, infidels – or in the description of Palestinians by the current Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, “human animals.”  Such racist, dehumanizing language has been repeated time and again throughout the American and Israeli narratives used to justify their crimes against those they killed and whose land they stole.  The gloss of civilized hypocrisy has been unmasked by such language, just as it was when Hitler repeatedly called Jews “vermin.”  Irony aside, the Nazi rhetoric of denigration and racial superiority to justify exterminating Jewish people has been repeatedly mirrored by American and Israeli leaders, whether it was against the Original Free Peoples of North America, Vietnamese, Koreans, Iraqis, etc. or the Palestinians.  It is the master/slave mentality deeply rooted in U.S. and Israel history.

Bobby, you have said that you hope to be the second independent candidate to become president, the first being George Washington.  Yet Washington was a racist and slave owner who supported the extermination of the Indian natives so the white settlers could take their land.  He himself did so, speculating in Native lands together with most of the other prominent politicians from the early days of the Republic, including Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Andrew Jackson, et al.  For the governors and legislators of the thirteen states it was also open sesame on the seizure of Indian land which required their slaughter in turn.

One can learn this in Peter P. d’Errico’s important recent book, Federal Anti-Indian Law: The Legal Entrapment of Indigenous Peoples, where he makes clear how U.S. law was used to codify such “legal” theft and killing.  Such federal law was, as d’Errico writes, a claim of unlimited U.S. power and not really law at all but the suspension of law as it granted the U.S. government complete authority over Native peoples, their lives, and their land.  Legal theft, in other words.  Like the English justification for their claim to their colonies – the “right of discovery” proclaimed in Henry VII’s commission to John Cabot: “to subdue and take possession of any lands unoccupied by any Christian Power” – a series of three Supreme Court rulings in the 1830s by Chief Justice John Marshall were based on the claim of “Christian discovery,” which in turn was based on a papal grant from Pope Alexander the Sixth in 1493 that gave to Christopher Columbus’s sponsors, Ferdinand and Isabella, ownership of any land Columbus might discover.  This divine right required the killing and subjugation of non-Christian infidels and heathens who were considered brute animals, just as the Palestinians are today.

Similar justifications have been used by Zionists for the killing of Palestinians and the seizure of their land in the name of the Biblical Jewish God and his instructions to them.  This myth claims that God gave them the ancestral Palestinians’ land, therefore, like native peoples of North America who, according to the non-law U.S. Indian law, only had the right of occupancy, the Palestinians could be killed and dispossessed by the God-given rightful owners, which they were in 1948.  Netanyahu has made such claims many times, as have his predecessors.  He calls for a holy war of annihilation against the Palestinians, based on the Hebrew Bible.  This is widely known and has a long history in the Zionist propaganda narrative that has allowed for seventy-five years of killing and the systematic shrinking of Palestinian land to its pitiful size today.

It is interesting to note that the three primary countries that intersect in the use of religious justification for colonial and imperial policies are England, the U.S., and Israel – together with the Papacy and its May 4, 1493 bull Inter Caetera issued by Pope Alexander the Sixth to declare Christian discovery.  I mention this since I am an Irish-American Catholic, and it was the Irish uprising against the English colonial occupiers that has become a key inspiration for anti-colonial rebels throughout the twentieth century and beyond.  I have taken inspiration from my Irish ancestors.  This is your heritage also, Bobby, so it becomes even more surprising that you, even as you tout the American Revolutionary War rebel fighters against the English colonialists, would support the Israeli genocide against the Palestinians.  As a lawyer, you must be aware of Federal Indian Law and how it, like all law, is rooted in a metaphysics of being human; has presuppositions that are brought to the bar, and in the case of federal Indian law, a Christian nomos at odds with that of Native peoples’.

You surely know that the Israeli assault on Gaza is a massive war crime according to international law, and even within the moderate Catholic just war theory, is, by its distorted proportionality, evil and must be rejected as immoral and a terrible sin.  You claim to want to end all wars but support the ongoing slaughter of thousands upon thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians, including so many children and women.  Nor have you said a word against Biden’s saber rattling with aircraft carriers, U.S. drones, and assistance for Israel’s bloodthirsty assault that raises the threat of a much wider war that could turn nuclear.

Yes, the question is why such silence, which you can break now.  I beg you to speak out.  You are a man of conscience.  MLK, Jr. speaks to us all still.

And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular – but one must take it simply because it is right.

Pax tibi,

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16 responses to “An Epistle to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.”

  1. Luis Avatar

    For me the word imperialism is a diabolic word. Satan is having fun. Inocent men, women and children are being and have always been massacered in the name of satan.

  2. Kadath Actual Avatar
    Kadath Actual

    “..and you then allowed your “friend” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to say that Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian, killed your father in 1968 when you knew that was a lie and was part of a sophisticated intelligence conspiracy to blame the patsy who was said to hate Israel.”

    I decided to read your article – and look for actual citations – since I am a RFK supporter, and by the time I hit the above paragraph I realized that this was going to be an opinion assertion, as opposed to any fact based assertions relative to RFK. I dont claim to know any details of the RFK Sr. hit, or the handlers of ‘Sirhan squared’, but neither do you, and any claims of specific proof need to be based in fact, not mere assertions of opinion.

    As far as I am aware, RFK has not been in any debate forum yet, so the cart seems to be outrunning the horse as far as assailing him for his non-existent debate performance(s).
    You seem mad that RFK is friendly with what I assume is some media connected Rabbi, is the only apparent fact-based assertion in this open letter, which I am not seeing any particular legitimate issue with unless one or both of them can be shown to engage in some sort of wrong-doing. If you have some basis to assert that the specific Rabbi has engaged in wrongdoing, write about it and let people – including RFK – make up their minds, but the mere fact that he is a Rabbi is not itself problematic as far as I can see.

    RFK needs to pick a VP – NOW – be it Tulsi or someone else, and create a force multiplier effect that elevates his campaign visibility and communications. If I were in his position, I would begin a televised media interview process with people who he considers serious VP picks, narrowed down to the top 3 or 4 choices, and while this is televised or disseminated on X/Twitter, it will also give you the opportunity to learn his exact positions and those of his potential running mates.

    A second good idea would be an Independent debate series, including RFK, that offers the public an idea of the world that exists outside of the two business parties. I am as far right/ traditional Conservative as you can get, and even I can find points of agreement with Cornell West and Jill Stein, since as populists, we share some common purposes even if we disagree on what to title ourselves.

    As to the Israel / Gaza issue specifically, I think that the honest position is that everyone has the right to assert any religious beliefs or group unity that they want to, but this comes to an absolute end at the point where your asserted belief morphs into any actions that hurt, disenfranchise, abuse, cheat, or impair the rights of others, who don’t share in those beliefs.

    I once tried reading the Talmud, simply to gain a direct understanding of the belief system. I found myself in a section detailing what I can only describe as an seemingly endless and anguished debate between Rabbi’s over the degree to which unleavened bread becomes contaminated if a non-Jew touches it or sources its ingredients.

    As an outsider, my first observation was how such an ‘unclean’ debate would be considered if any other ethnic / national population was applying such a rule to the debating Rabbi’s.
    It would without even a moments doubt be cited as ”Anti-Semitism”. This is clearly a tribal neurosis – although people have an absolute right to engage in self-selecting tribal neurosis if they choose to do so, it goes without saying that this will not facilitate easy interaction with basically anyone else.

    Kennedy would do well to adopt a position akin to Ramaswamy, who himself mirrors the advice of none other that Washington, which is that we wish well to all parties in other states, but they ultimately need to offer the same just treatment to those that they interact with.

    The Israeli’s, with global phone hacking schemes corrupting everything that they touch, Johnathan Pollard welcomed publicly like a conquering hero for his paid treason against the US, the slaughter of our men on the USS Liberty (including a lead linguist who was Jewish), the pilfering of Nuclear material at contaminated sites across Penn., and the Moving company – Art Students of 9/11 vintage to name only a couple major betrayals, have shouted ‘Antisemitism’ to the point where any shock value was lost long ago.. clean your own house.

    Dont blame Kennedy. In the end, the right that accrues to everyone is the right to be left alone. It is the right to not care or to not believe in what someone else very angst-ily chooses to believe in, and to not be affected by it. I do not support anyone being harmed of any religion, sect or ethnicity, under any circumstances, and I also do not support burning down the world because others wish this as enshrined state policy.

    I think most people of most backgrounds agree with me, but like you, that is merely an opinion.

    1. Woopy Avatar

      Certainly, true that we can’t peg RFK as being one thing or another until the fat lady begins to sing. However, he’d be doing us all a favor if he’d give us a hint of whether he’s a “standup guy” or just another Clinton, Bush, Obama, Biden, etc. We’ve had enough people like Berney Sanders who come out wearing a formal tuxedo and end up in a clown suit. Someone who will in reality stand up against the Zionist oligarchy/bureaucracy might help however there isn’t anyone that can or will do it.

  3. Prometheus Avatar

    “This is true for the United States and Israel. It is built into their theological underpinnings.”

    And it was built in by ye o£de Brutish Vampire and its Puritan evangelist white supremacists who concocted British Israelism in the 16th century to flatter themselves they were one of the the ‘lost tribes’ of the ‘chosen people’, a set of delusions diaspora Jews had mostly evolved beyond, but useful to imperial planters from Ireland through AmeriKKKa and Australia to the Zionist scheme to garrison Suez and ‘our sacred oil’…ye olde chrism of the deified and Nazarene heretic who blew the whistle on the temple racketeers under Caiaphas.
    RFK jr does not have his uncle’s grasp of history, and as such will be putty for misdirection in the hands of the WA$P mob.

  4. Gene Avatar

    There is no difference between individuals of the U.S. ruling class. Is there a difference between the last few, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Biden, Trump or Kennedy? Zilch. They are all dirty Zionists served/serving Jewish interests at the expense of all Americans interests.
    In Washington DC, the Jews are demonstrating in support of Israel barbaric war and demanding the extermination of the Palestinians.

    Western media and Western politicians cannot imagine HAMAS being noble and chivalrous fighters, and Israelis being cowardly child-killing terrorists, though such is obviously the case. In Australia, the country with the most Nazis-like draconian anti-Muslims laws, the regime and the media (without exception) are fully behind the Israeli Nazis and make it noticeably clear that they are proud of being complicit in the ongoing Israeli Genocide in Gaza. The words Palestinians and Palestine have been removed from the Australian vocabulary and are no longer in use here. Instead, the media and politicians are using HAMAS. The Australian ABC, the regime propaganda mouthpiece is now part of Israe’s terror against the Palestinians. The ABC managing director, David Johnson is refusing to use the words “Genocide” and “Apartheid” to describe Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians because, “The IDF [Israeli armed terrorists] and the Israeli regime reject that.”

    Since 07 October 2023, more than 15000 innocent Palestinians, including 5000 children and babies have been murdered in cold blood. The UN Secretary General Guterres said: Israeli Jews have turned “Gaza into a graveyard for children.” In fact, the Jews have turned Gaza hospitals into mass grave graveyards. It does not make sense and you cannot win war by killing women and children unless the aim is Genocide, a real holocaust.
    The Jews cannot acknowledge that the vast majority of the world disagrees with them for particularly good reasons, not because of “antisemitism”, but because of the violence they are subjugated the Palestinians to. Arabs are the real Semitic people and Jews are the truly the anti-Semite Zionists.
    According to UNICEF, one million Palestinian children are in danger of being killed by Israelis with nowhere safe to be in Gaza. Aljazeera called it “Israel’s war on hospitals”.

    1. Prometheus Avatar

      Look again, Gene, and drop the scales from your eyes.
      Jews are protesting everywhere AGAINST the Zionist brutality.

      1. Susan Siens Avatar
        Susan Siens

        I now distinguish between Jews and Zionists. I have never had sympathy with the ultra-Orthodox but it was very interesting listening to a rabbi declare that being Jewish means one has a covenant with God; the rabbi emphatically is NOT a Zionist and does not view God as a real estate agent. As a follower of Jesus, I realized that being truly Christian means one has a covenant with Yeshua; it does not mean going to church and mouthing platitudes.

        Yes, Jewish people everywhere are protesting against Zionism. But Israeli Zionists are perfectly willing to see their military killing their own people (about half of the dead of 7 Oct were killed by Israeli forces as they have a policy that it is better to kill their own people than allow them to be taken as hostages or POWs). I only have sympathy with Israeli dissidents and resisters (men who refuse military service [sic]), and I no longer think Israel has a “right to exist.”

  5. Dave Hett Avatar

    RFK Jr. came from a very dysfunctional family, as did his father and his uncle. I wasn’t as enamoured of him as you were (are???) but I didn’t find it surprising that he supported Israel.

    1. Susan Siens Avatar
      Susan Siens

      I read an interesting book for work about the three Kennedy wives, Jackie, Joan, and Ethel, and dysfunctional is a mild term for the RFK Sr household. And like you I am never surprised at how low people will sink.

  6. Susan Siens Avatar
    Susan Siens

    I had some mild interest in RFK Jr’s running for president, but then I am NOT bourgeois and have not been educated to believe in saviors. I have spent my life in the down and dirty real world and am very skeptical of the upper classes. Did Ed Curtin see Kennedy’s vomit-inducing words regarding free speech on campuses and his now-apparent enthusiasm for war, all war, including going to war against Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela!?! Heavy drug usage when young damages the brain, the heart, and the soul, and RFK Jr is demonstrating his lack of all three.

  7. Tom Lindsay Avatar
    Tom Lindsay

    I agree completely with everything you wrote. Excellent piece. You wrote at the end,

    “Yes, the question is why such silence, which you can break now.”

    But, I think you may have answered this question earlier in your essay when you wrote:

    “In genuflecting to the Israel genocide while touting your connection to JFK and your father, Senator Robert Kennedy, you have in fact taken a position toward Israel diametrically opposed to theirs.”

    Indeed, Bobby has, and he’s probably lost sleep over it. I’ll bet he’s thinking hard about his uncle’s determination to prevent Israel from building an atomic bomb – a weapon Israel felt was critical for their survival. I’ll bet he’s pondering his dad’s insistence that the American Zionist Council (AZC) register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act – a declaration the AZC said would result in the destruction of the Zionist movement. And I’d guess he’s contemplating Martin Luther King’s cancellation of a trip to Israel (that would have been a huge public relations boon) after they militarily seized the West Bank and Gaza. Bobby is no dummy. He knows better than most that this is ALL deadly serious business. He also knows that it is impossible to become president of the United States if you piss off Israel.

  8. PCM Avatar

    This would probably be a good time for Americans to revisit the Al Jazeera documentaries “The Lobby” (about Israeli lobbying operations in the UK), “The Lobby — USA” (about Israeli lobbying operations in the US), and “The Labour Files” (which covers how former Labour Party leader and prospective Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn was smeared and taken down, with help from the Israel lobby). It seems obvious to me that RFK Jr’s campaign advisors are at a minimum acutely aware of the Lobby’s power and that some of them may be wittingly working *for* it. On the other hand, I’m not so sure they are aware of the American public’s growing revulsion at Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, a general picture of which is managing to transpire even in Western *mainstream* coverage. And back to the first hand, American politicians haven’t remotely represented the interests, wishes, or will of “the 99%” for decades. Why would they be more responsive to Americans’ feelings about the Zionist Solution to the Palestinian Question than they were, for example, to the Occupy movement?

    Still, RFK Jr has been so dogmatically, so one-sidedly, so over-the-top pro-Zionist in his interviews and public statements, in the face of *Israeli*-perpetrated horrors, that one has to wonder if there isn’t something more than cold political calculation — the belief that “it is impossible to become president of the United States if you piss off Israel” — behind his position. But there’s no hard evidence of blackmail-caliber dirt on him so far, and until there is, all we can do is hypothesize and speculate à la Kim Iverson.

    1. Tom Lindsay Avatar
      Tom Lindsay

      Yes, PCM, there’s more behind Bobby’s position. I tried to point this out. Was I too subtle? My guess – the public assassinations of his uncle, his father, and King (THE world famous, peaceful warrior against apartheid and for racial justice), gives Bobby pause. He, just like the people in Gaza, prefers to live. I have not seen the Al Jazeera documentaries you mentioned. Hopefully I can find them.

      1. PCM Avatar

        Hey, Tom, I liked your comments even though I was undecided whether a presidential candidate with the ability to pay for first-rate private security would make major policy choices based on the risk of assassination. But now that I think of it, when the stakes are high enough, assassination is always there as a last resort if weaponized finance, negative media coverage, sock puppets, lawfare, dirty tricks, blackmail, and the like aren’t enough to elicit compliance.

        After witnessing the humiliating exposure the original “Lobby” inflicted on its BFFs Israel and Britain, the US government “lobbied” Qatar and succeeded in “convincing” Al Jazeera to never air “The Lobby — USA,” even though it was in the can and ready to go. It got leaked, however, and like “The Lobby” and “The Labour Files,” it can be easily found on the Web.

        1. Tom Lindsay Avatar
          Tom Lindsay

          I found and watched the documentaries you referenced. Thanks. Your comment “…when the stakes are hight enough…” is the determinative consideration, and “high enough” to whom, exactly. Of course, there were numerous entities that wanted John, Robert, and Martin gone. Ci Bono is always the best place to start. However, things are rarely as they seem, and there is much “forbidden history” that we question at our peril.

  9. Robin Avatar

    RFK Jr has been misrepresenting himself all along. Somehow he managed to get a law degree, after a 10 year heroin addiction. Most folks in that catagory can´t get a license to run a hair salon. He claimed to have been a sex addict. He flew with Epstein. Children´s Health Defense was allowed to broach some important topics, but does not reveal its donors, and paid him a cool half million per year. Mary Holland, their lawyer came from the Aspen Institute. His work on the pandemic-con is revealing too, as in limited hangout. Not hey, there is no virus, it was a psyop, to blaming China to rev up world war, and implying that the biosurveillance network is necessary because of scarey viruses, but somehow ´we will handle it better´. He also worked or works for Venture Capital, with a water drone project with the military, and pushing social impact finance, which is the cornerstone of the WEF financial transformation. While positioning himself as the champion of the health freedom, non surveillance crowd. The closer you look, the more globalist it gets. The orientalist rhetoric on Palestine is vomitous, and thank you Ed for calling it out. No one should trust this schmuck.