Midnight at the Ambassador Hotel
by Steve Payne, Chris Oakley & Eric Lipps
In 1968 on this day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles just hours after winning the California Democratic Primary Elections.
Assured of the Democratic nomination if not the Presidency itself, Senator Kennedy delivered a famous victory speech in the hotel ballroom at midnight. Tragically, after entering the hotel's kitchen to greet supporters, Kennedy was shot in a crowded passageway by the 36-year-old American-Israeli Orthodox rabbi Meir Kahane.
As Kennedy lay wounded (pictured in this iconic photograph), 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant Sirhan Sirhan cradled the Senator's head. Kennedy asked Sirhan, Is everybody safe, OK? and Sirhan responded, Yes, yes, everything is going to be OK .
Rushed to The Good Samaritan Hospital, the Senator died early the next morning without regaining consciousness.
According to Kahane's Mother, he killed Kennedy because of his Jewish nationalism. She said, What he did, he did for his country.
Kennedy's father Joe was a notorious anti-semite>1. And despite living in New York until the age of ten, Robert was deeply uncomfortable in Jewish company.
On a walking tour of a Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn on Rosh Hashanah in September 1964, Kennedy was so nervous he looked like he was going to have a heart attack recalled Albert Blumenthal. Later at an Orthodox Jewish Delicatessen, he wondered aloud why he couldn't get a glass of milk. And advised to wear a hat on a visit to a rabbi, he refused, mumbling to a reporter that he didn't want to look like f**king Calvin Coolidge after the famous photograph of the President looking uncomfortable in an Indian war bonnet.
His opponent in the senate race Kenneth Keating accused Kennedy of signing off on too-generous settlements of some claims against the General Aniline and Film Corporation whilst serving as Attorney General. Describing Aniline as a cartel that made Hitler's chemicals in World War II, Keating hinted that Kennedy was fronting for the Nazis2.
Increasingly a fierce supporter of the under-dog, it was the revelation of the crewmen on the USS Liberty, that swung Kennedy behind the Palestinian cause in late 19673.
Responding to the accidental death of 34 US Sailors and the wounding of 170 more when Israeli jets mistook the Belmont-class technical research vessel for the Egyptian cargo ship El Quseir, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk said he was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. . . . Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn't believe them then, and I don't believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.
In fact, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson had secretly agreed on day four of the Six Day War that Liberty would be sunk with complete loss of life. The attack would be blamed on Egypt, allowing the U.S. in turn to attack Egypt, thus helping out Israel.4
Kennedy's outspoken criticism of Israel would ultimately cost him his life at the hands of Meir Kahane.
Kahane5 was an editor of an American-Jewish weekly, Brooklyn's The Jewish Press and yet his faith in the cause dated back to his teenage years6. Kahane had joined the Betar (Brit Trumpeldor) youth wing of Revisionist Zionism, after becoming an ardent admirer of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, a frequent guest in his parents' home.
He was active in protests against Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary who blocked emigration of Nazi death camp survivors to the Jewish Homeland and opposed Israel's independence in favour of creating a Hashemite Arab monarchy dependent on British power. Kahane also organized and launched noisy public demonstrations in the USA against the Soviet Union's policy of persecuting Zionist activists and curbing Jewish emigration to Israel. He was active in the Free Soviet (Russian) Jewry movement and advocated policies designed to increase emigration of Russian refuseniks to Israel.
Kahane died at California State Prison, Corcoran in 1990.
Whilst reading Robert Kennedy, His Life by Evan Thomas (2000) we were struck by the curiosity of Robert Kennedy's pro-Israel stance, with the obvious exception of the Jewish vote in New York. Therefore, in this scenario - a team effort from Today in Alternate History - we re-examined Robert Kennedy`s support for Israel, and in a reversal, imagine he is instead assassinated for his pro-Palestinian views.
We strongly recommend the movie Bobby and this trailer in particular.
1) Source - Robert Kennedy, His Life by Evan Thomas (2000),
Steve Payne, Editor Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
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