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Letter from Senator John F. Kennedy to Hon. Herbert H. Lehman

November 02, 1960

I appreciate the opportunity to reaffirm my stand on the principle of free passage through the Suez Canal.

There has been too much rhetoric and too little leadership in this area. Our policy in Washington and in the United Nations has permitted defiance of our 1957 pledge with impunity.

If America's solemn word is to have meaning, if the resolutions and decisions of the United Nations are to be binding on all parties, if the mutual security amendment, which I cosponsored, is to serve as a guide, if the Democratic platform is to receive more than lip-service - the influence of the United States and other maritime powers must be brought to bear on a just solution that removes all discrimination from the Suez Canal.

The State of Israel, when it withdrew its forces from the Sinai Peninsula, received a pledge from both the United States and the United Nations that Israeli shipping rights in the Suez Canal would be supported. This is a United Nations stand in which we have a particular moral obligation.

In this connection, I feel that the opportunity for peace is jeopardized by the arms race in the Middle East. An international effort should be made to prevent this dangerous race. If this cannot be done, then at the very least, we should not condone any imbalance between the powers. For imbalance also leads to war.

I assure you the next Democratic administration will waste no time taking the initiative for peace and all the authority of the White House will be used toward that end.


John F. Kennedy, Letter from Senator John F. Kennedy to Hon. Herbert H. Lehman Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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