Eyewitness to Jack Kemp
Photo: Gail Winston congratulating Jack Kemp on his speech extolling the benefits of the Lavi and Israeli/American cooperation July 21, 1986. Kemp is holding his prized model of the Lavi fighter for which he fought valiantly.
For Jews, Jack Kemp, [candidate for VP in 1986] would likely qualify as a Righteous Gentile. He practices his Christianity with a true understanding and respect for the Five Books of Torah. We Jews know too well the soft words and promises of past candidates, only to have them thrown in our faces when the politician’s choice is between Israel’s security and the cash flow of Arab kings and dictators.
Jack Kemp has always stood his ground in defense of Israel. In the Chicago Tribune August 10th Michael Tackett said: “Former Secretary of State James Baker was once so angry with Kemp that he considered punching him over what Baker saw as interference in his view of U.S.-Israeli relations.” We all know what Bush and Baker thought of Jews and Israel. I would personally have enjoyed being at ringside on the day Baker threw that first punch. Jack Kemp, now silver haired and long off the playing field, would have taken the first blow like a gentleman and then launched Baker into the laps of his oily friends with the second blow.
As a Congressman, Kemp always supported foreign aid to Israel. He explained that all the economic aid came back to America in almost 100% votes in the UN supporting American policy, in military technology, intelligence, captured military weapons (i.e., Soviet tanks and planes) which America could reverse-engineer to learn their weak points…etc.) The military aid to Israel was almost all spent in America to buy military weapons in order to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge in a dangerous neighborhood when every country, including the U.S. was selling their best military technology, in quantity, to Arab states that were still in a declared war with Israel.
We (Gail and I) met Congressman Jack Kemp in Israel July 1979 at the First Yonatan Conference Against International Terrorism. This Conference was organized by now Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the name of his brother, Yoni, who was killed in the Entebbe rescue. Kemp understood that international terrorists were being sponsored and trained at that time in the Soviet Union in coordination with the Arab nations and terrorist organizations like the PLO.
No one fought harder than Jack Kemp for the Lavi, Israel’s air superiority and close ground support fighter. We heard his dramatic speech at the roll-out of the Lavi’s first prototype July 21. 1986. He affirmed how co-production of the Levi by America and Israel benefitted both countries. The Lavi would have cost $17-18 million per plane – much less than any current jet fighter plane.
Because the competition was too critical, industry lobbyists went to work, using the State and Defense Departments (especially Caspar Weinberger) to cancel production. Soon Israel’s Lavi was canceled. But, Kemp was for it, for the right patriotic reasons.
We were with Jack Kemp in Israel when he was honored as keynote guest speaker for the 20th anniversary celebrating the successful implementation of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which connected most favored nation status to the Soviet Union’s release of its Jews. Kemp was very instrumental in pressing the Soviets to allow their Jews immigration to Israel.
We also heard Kemp speak to a Chicago political group of mostly non-Jews where he defended Israel as fervently as to any Jewish audience. His defense of Israel is not because it will be politically popular but because it is right and genuine. The audience responded with enthusiastic applause.
I must add this: Jack Kemp, on his travels through Indiana, extended the courtesy of meeting with Professor Morris Pollard, the father of Jonathan Pollard. Although Kemp was on a very tight schedule, he listened compassionately to Professor Pollard, who is a world renowned research expert on cancer. I am mindful of the comparison where a former President Bush and our sitting President Clinton avoided the subject, refusing to meet with Professor Pollard although requests to do so came from some of the most renowned people in medicine, religion and law.
With Jack Kemp, what you see is what you get.