Auctioning a first lady’s letter
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Auctioning a first lady’s letter

“Here’s to you, Mrs. Roosevelt,” Paul Simon wrote in the first draft of his song “Mrs. Robinson,” before changing the name to Mrs. Robinson when Mike Nichols wanted a song for “The Graduate.”

Was he praising the widow of America’s 32nd president for defending Israel’s actions during the Suez Crisis?

Probably not. But if you want to own a piece of the former first lady’s support for Israel, you just may have missed your chance. A 1957 letter on the topic, written on her personal “Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt” letterhead, was scheduled to be auctioned off this week by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles with an opening bid of $22,500.

In the letter, Mrs. Roosevelt responds directly to criticism of her newspaper column “My Day,” in which she defended Israel’s actions in the 1956 crisis.

Mrs. Roosevelt wrote: “If you follow step by step in the UN and understand the difficulties, you will realize that Israel was not an aggressor. The Charter of the UN allows self defense and Israel’s case was purely one of self defense.

“I do not agree with you about the establishment of the state of Israel. The Israelis have a right to their land and I think it is nonsense to suppose that they plan to plunge us into a war. They want peace as much, if not more, than other nations.

“We lead in the United Nations, so it would not be a case of our falling for any plot.”

The auction catalog calls the two-page missive an “exceptional letter, with rare content by the First Lady showing her commitment and refusal to equivocate on the state of Israel.”

Other items being auctioned on the same day include a Nobel Prize awarded to Thomas Schelling in 2005 for his game theory; a bomber jacket owned by John F. Kennedy; and a Richard Nixon letter about Vietnam.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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