Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Who Really Killed JFK?

Nehemiah Horowitz

Fifty years ago this week, John F. Kennedy was assassinated by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. Or was he? Since that fateful day, conspiracy theorists have pointed to any number of players who wanted the president dead. Fifty years later, are we any closer to the truth?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

“This must be the product of a great conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men.”


Those words were spoken, not by some inflamed purveyor of paranoia about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but over a decade earlier, in 1951, by Senator Joseph McCarthy ofWisconsin, referring to an international Communist conspiracy that he claimed was subverting American policymaking.

McCarthy’s accusation is telling, if only because it demonstrates that conspiracy theorizing did not begin with the Kennedy assassination. Rather, the event occurred in a society already steeped in paranoia from the Cold War between theUnited Statesand theSoviet Union. Indeed, Cold War tensions reached their most perilous height in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, whenKennedy,America’s 35th president, faced down Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in a confrontation that nearly ended in nuclear catastrophe.

The trip to Texas a year later, which had been planned to organize support for the upcoming 1964 reelection campaign, had seen signs of trouble ahead. Kennedy himself was well aware of the existence of extremist elements inDallas.

“The Southwest hate capital of Dixie,” as it was sometimes called, had been the scene of a physically threatening demonstration against United Nations ambassador Adlai Stevenson on October 24. On November 22, the day of the Kennedy assassination, the Dallas Morning News ran a full-page ad from the far-right John Birch Society accusing Kennedy of being soft on Communism. The president dismissed it, presaging the tragedy that would befall him later that day: “If somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it?” The president, wanting the crowds lining the motorcade to have a better look at him, ordered the protective bubble removed from his car.

It’s not surprising, then, that the idea that John Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy arose almost from the moment that the shots rang out on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, inDealeyPlazainDallasand the motorcade picked up speed to rush the mortally wounded president toParklandHospital.

“The possibility that the shooting was a far-ranging conspiracy” that “had not yet run its course,” was “in the thoughts of everyone,” recalled Rufus Youngblood, the Secret Service agent who flung his body as a shield over Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, riding in a car behind the president’s.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time