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.

Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity