New York, NY, December 13, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said a 1973 discussion between President Richard M. Nixon and his top foreign policy advisor at the time, Henry Kissinger, released as part of the Nixon Tapes, "shows a disturbing and even callous insensitivity" toward Soviet Jews, "but should not change history's verdict on the important contributions and ultimate legacy" of Kissinger.
In a conversation at the White House, Dr. Kissinger, the then-National Security Advisor to President Nixon, remarked: "The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."
President Nixon replied, "I know. We can't blow up the world because of it."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
With the release of the latest round of Nixon Tapes, we are once again faced with a painful reminder of the anti-Semitism that infected the president and pervaded the Nixon White House.
The comments by Dr. Kissinger show a disturbing and even callous insensitivity toward the fate of Soviet Jews, and are a reminder of the all-too-human characteristic that even great individuals are flawed. Although one cannot know the full context of the statement about American foreign policy objectives and the fate of Soviet Jews, the reference to Jews perishing in gas chambers not being an American concern is outrageous. It is all the more disturbing coming from a Jewish refugee from the Nazi atrocities of the Holocaust.
Based on previously released tapes, a clearer picture of President Nixon has emerged as a man acutely infected with anti-Semitism who was surrounded by close aides and staff who reinforced those bigoted beliefs. The anti-Jewish prejudice which permeated the Nixon presidency and White House undoubtedly created an environment of intimidation for those who did not share the president's bigotry; Dr. Kissinger was clearly not immune to that intimidation.
Dr. Kissinger's contributions to the safety and security of the U.S. and Israel have solidly established his legacy as a champion of democracy and as a committed advocate for preserving the well-being of the Jewish state of Israel. The Nixon Tapes should not change history's verdict on the important contributions and ultimate legacy of Henry Kissinger.