Golda Meir Doubted Oswald Was Lone Gunman in JFK Assassination

Then-foreign minister Meir said she sensed 'dark corners' in John Kennedy's death, according to recently released documents.

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Golda Meir, foreign minister at the time of United States President John Kennedy's assasination, believed that there were dark corners to Kennedy’s death “that would possibly never see the light of day.” Meir's reactions are disclosed in new documents just released by the State Archives on the 50th anniversary of the assassination.

On her return from Kennedy’s funeral, where she represented Israel, Meir reported her impressions to the government. “After it happened, Americans felt that their world had been overturned. Everyone also perceived it as a personal loss”, she said. “It was reported that two million people turned out in Washington. I’ve never seen such a scene of total silence. Not a sound was heard. It was a cold morning, but people stood for hours feeling personal grief.”

The foreign minister related to the rumor mill that was already at work regarding the assassin’s identity. “I was alarmed, and I’m still not at ease. This whole issue has many dark corners that may never see the light of day”, she said. Meir expressed her own version of the conspiracy theories, when she referred to Jack Ruby (formerly Yaakov Leon Rubinstein,) the American Jew who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s murderer. “I think Ruby was working on someone’s behalf, either for some political underground or for the Dallas police.”

“Oswald was registered as a communist, a Castro man. He tried to live in Russia. It’s all very strange. But stranger still is Jack Ruby’s involvement. How did he get in? How does an outsider get into the police building?” wondered Meir about the killing of the assassin. “If Oswald was working for Castro, if there is a Castro underground that is willing to go all-out and murder the president and then silence the assassin … and what if he did talk? It’s tragic that a Jew was involved in the whole affair.”

“I would say that they take Oswald’s murder almost as seriously as Kennedy’s. I wonder if it’s part of a plan, if there’s an underground. I’m not a detective. I don’t even like detective novels, but I have to ask myself, if Ruby was working for someone, either some underground or the Dallas police.”

Meir also informed the government of the sigh of relief among U.S. Jews when it turned out that the assassin was not Jewish. “I don’t know why anyone would assume that a Jew would kill Kennedy, but we all heaved a sigh of relief when the assassin’s identify was confirmed.”

Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, occurred at 8:30 P.M. Israel time on a Friday night. First bulletins regarding his condition arrived 25 minutes after the shooting, and the news was broadcast by Israel Radio at 9 PM. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol got the news at a 75th birthday party, held in Tel Aviv for Yosef Kitsis, a Mapai and Second Aliyah veteran. A few minutes later he got the news of Kennedy’s death, upon which he left the party and headed for Jerusalem.

Half-an-hour after midnight, Eshkol issued an announcement regarding Kennedy’s death. He wrote that “a criminal hand has cut short the life and work of the U.S. president. His short term of office was full of grace and hope. It carried with it a hope for peace. The world has lost a great leader, who fought for democracy and civil rights in his country and across the world. The late president was aware of the ongoing liberation of oppressed nations and of the needs of developing countries, and he hastened to give them spiritual and material aid. His tragic death is a heavy blow which will be felt not only by his own nation, which raised him to his lofty post.”

The following Sunday, the government convened for a special session and declared three official days of mourning. Eshkol said at the session: “We were all struck by the criminal and senseless killing of U.S. President John Kennedy. The whole world, including ourselves, is in shock. The late Kennedy was a glowing and bountiful personality, full of energy and ambition, trying to steer the world away from war towards peace. The world and we believe that he had so much left unfulfilled within him after only 2-3 years in office. He was destined to reach much higher.”

Golda Meir and John F. Kennedy, 1962



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