Honor Among Thieves
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

September 21, 2015, Israel

My dad grew up in Brooklyn, a different era, different times. It was before the State of Israel, before Jews could attend any club or college that they wanted, and then the Holocaust took place. He admired the Tough Jews, Jews who would not be pushed around, even though some were gangsters.

The same was true of the Italians and the Irish, known better as the Dagoes and the Micks. That's how it was. When a famous gangster died the community mourned. The gangsters provided work, opportunities and a chance to break into the American life denied them.

Of course most Jews, Italians and Irish worked very hard under horrible conditions and upheld the law. They lived in rat infested tenements and raised children who would become honest Americans. None of these cultures condoned violence. Many gangsters such as Al Capone came from devoutly religious families.

Few things in life are as black and white as we originally think. There were two brothers in Boston, one "good" and one "bad". The good one was a politician, the bad one was a gangster and a killer. As it turns out they worked together, they were very close and the lines were blurred. The gangster made sure his brother got the votes he needed. The politician made sure his brother was protected and well informed of police activities. Key witnesses mysteriously disappeared. Both escaped justice for decades.

So who is good and who is bad? Whom can you trust?

During World War Two the US government could not control the docks, Nazi infiltrators were coming in. They turned to the only one's who could control the docks, the Mafia, the Mob.

The CIA turned to the Italian Mafia to try and overthrow the Castro government in Cuba. And then Bobby Kennedy tries to destroy the Mob. 

Use 'em when you need 'em and then dumb them when you don't?

So who is good and who is bad. Whom can you trust?

Sam Giancana, honor a deal, or else....

One thing my dad of blessed memory always stressed was honesty and honoring a deal. Sometimes we promise to do something, sometimes we make a commitment and then, things change. Honoring the deal will not benefit us right now, it will inconvenience us and cost us money. We made a mistake and now we must pay for it. Rebbe gelt, my dad said in Yiddish, learning money. School of Hard Knock's.

Once my dad met the legendary Jewish gangster Mayer Lansky in Tel Aviv. Lansky was deported by our prime minister. Israel did not allow an old Jew to return to his homeland. They feared his reputation with the Mafia. Not long ago an Israeli president went to prison as he was convicted of many crimes, including working with Israeli organized crime.

Who is good and who is bad? The lines are often blurred.

But honor a deal. A man must honor a deal.

Legend has it (actually more than just legend) that the notorious antisemite Joe Kennedy was deep in with the mob. He used these connections to get rich and to put his son into the greatest office in America, the presidency, but... for a price. The price was to go easy on the mob. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. JFK appoints his brother RFK, Bobby Kennedy to U.S. Attorney general. RFK declares war on the mob, on organized crime.

Eventually both brothers are assassinated. Officially no one knows the reason. Unofficially, a deal was not honored. And among thieves there is honor. While the killer of RFK said he did it because of the senator's "support of Israel" the case of JFK is less clear. Lets just say...in the words of Giancana's daughter, "You don't bite the hand that feeds you, the Kennedy's bit the hand that fed them." She said with anger and conviction. We get it.

Chicago mobster, Sam Giancana, was high on Robert Kennedy's hit list, and he was well aware of it.

Salvatore, "Sam", Giancana and other mobsters had been angered by the president’s brother, Robert, who as U.S. attorney general was targeting organized crime in a major prosecution effort.  A deal must be honored and if not, there is a price that must be paid.

Honor a Deal

In 1992 the nephew of Sam Giancana published Double Cross: The Story of the Man Who Controlled America. The book attempted to establish that Giancana had rigged the 1960 Presidential election vote in Cook County, Chicago, on John Kennedy's behalf, which effectively gave Kennedy the election. It is argued that Kennedy reneged on the deal and therefore Giancana had him killed.

"It was then that Carlos Marcello's voice lost its softness, and his words were bitten off and spit out when mention was made of U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who was still on the trail of Marcello. "Levarsi una pietra dalla scarpa!" Carlos shrilled the cry of revenge: "Take the stone out of my shoe!" "Don't worry about that little Bobby, son of a bitch," he shouted. "He's going to be taken care of!" Ever since Robert Kennedy had arranged for his deportation to Guatemala, Carlos had wanted revenge. But as the subsequent conversation, which was reported to two top Government investigators by one of the participants and later to this author, showed, he knew that to rid himself of Robert Kennedy he would first have to remove the President. Any killer of the Attorney General would be hunted down by his brother; the death of the President would seed the fate of his Attorney General.

No one at the meeting had any doubt about Marcello's intentions when he abruptly arose from the table. Marcello did not joke about such things. In any case, the matter had gone beyond mere "business"; it had become an affair of honor, a Sicilian vendetta."

The Grim Reapers (1969)

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Honor a deal or deal with the consequences. Without honor what do we have left?

You want others to treat you correctly? Treat others correctly. Make your word count.

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