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Kennedy slaying linked to terrorism

  |   June 5, 2008 at 9:36 AM
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BOSTON, June 5 (UPI) -- Some scholars now view the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as the United States' first taste of Middle East political violence, observers say.

Sirhan Sirhan, a young Palestinian-American, shot Kennedy 40 years ago on the first anniversary of the Six-Day War in Israel. He had earlier demonstrated anger over the senator's positions favoring Israel over the Palestinian cause.

"It was in some ways the beginning of Islamic terrorism in America," said Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law

professor who had worked on Kennedy's campaign. "It was the first shot. A lot of us didn't recognize it at the time."

Dershowitz said he learned Sirhan had targeted others seen as pro-Israel, among them former U.N. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg.

In 1968, the Boston Globe said, Kennedy's slaying was seen widely as part of the ongoing domestic turmoil.

But now, looking back with new insight, the report said, the crime is drawing renewed interest as a prelude to such incidents as kidnappings at the Munich Olympics, the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the two assaults on the World Trade Center.

The assassination "planted a seed of concern in Americans about the Palestinian issue and the issue of terrorism," said Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

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