Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Asleep Again

The self-styled friends of Richard Nixon's legacy have still said nothing about his controversial exchange about Soviet Jews with Henry Kissinger in May 1973, whereas Kissinger's friends, including Mort Zuckerman, wrote as follows to the New York Times on Tuesday:

Just several weeks before this conversation, Mr. Kissinger and Nixon agreed to provide Israel with 100 advanced aircraft and to remove Israeli issues from the State Department to the White House, something strongly sought by Golda Meir, who was then prime minister.

Earlier, in 1969, when only approximately 700 Jews were allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union, Mr. Kissinger, then the national security adviser, broached the issue with the Soviet ambassador, Anatoly F. Dobrynin. As a result of this conversation, among others, the Soviets allowed the number of émigrés to increase to almost 40,000 by 1972.

Mr. Kissinger consistently played a constructive role vis-à-vis Israel both as national security adviser and secretary of state, especially when the United States extended dramatic assistance to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel’s very existence was at stake.

Over the decades, many of us have heard Mr. Kissinger speak out forcefully on behalf of the security and independence of Israel, and never have we heard him speak in a disparaging way about the Jewish community.

The critics of Mr. Kissinger should remember the context of his entire life and ask whether that judgment is fair. We think the answer is obvious.

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