Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is Jewish, said in 1973 that a genocide of Soviet Jewry would not be of concern to America’s foreign policy. In newly released tapes recorded in the Oval Office on President Richard Nixon's orders, both Kissinger (today 87) and the late Nixon are heard making disparaging comments about Jews and other minorities. "The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy," Kissinger is heard to say on the tapes. "And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern," he added. Nixon replied: "I know. We can’t blow up the world because of it."
Kissinger's remarks come after a meeting he and Nixon had with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on 1 March 1973 in which Meir pleaded for the United States to put pressure on the Soviet Union to release its Jews. Both the president and his secretary of state dismissed the plea after Meir left the White House. Six months later, during the Yom Kippur War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Nixon rejected Kissinger's advice to delay an arms airlift to Israel as a means of setting the stage for an Egypt confident enough to pursue peace. Nixon, among other reasons, cited Israel's urgent need.
The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants in a statement has called for an apology from Kissinger, who is still consulted by Democratic and Republican administrations and by Congress on matters of state. "Henry Kissinger's comments are morally grotesque and represent a disgraceful perversion of American values. He owes an apology to all victims of the Nazi Holocaust."
Douglas Davidson, the US envoy on Holocaust issues and a State Department official, said the comments made by Nixon and Kissinger in 1973 did not correspond with the administration's current policies. “The Holocaust is an American issue, obviously; that they have someone like me with a title of special envoy on Holocaust issues [testifies to that],” he said in an interview with the 'Jerusalem Post'. “I have a counterpart who is a special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism. Things have changed since the 1970s. Most of what I do is a legacy of what happened during the 1990s, lawsuits that were filed and agreements that were reached. So there’s been an evolution in the West like there was an evolution [in the way the Holocaust is seen] elsewhere and here, I imagine. Once, people didn’t want to hear so much about it.”
Henry Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Fürth to a family of German Jews. In 1938, fleeing Nazi persecution, his family moved to New York. The Republican served as US national security advisor from 1969-1975 and as secretary of state from 1973-1977 in the Nixon and Ford administrations.
President Richard Nixon had his White House conversations secretly recorded. After this was revealed during Congressional investigations, the tapes became government property and have been released over the years in intervals. Elsewhere on the batch of tapes recently released by the Nixon Library, the late president repeats many of the ethnic and racial slurs that had appeared on earlier such releases: Irish are "mean" drunks, he said; Italians "don't have their heads screwed on tight"; Jews were "aggressive, abrasive and obnoxious"; and it would take blacks "500 years" to catch up with whites.
Read Menachem Z. Rosensaft's commentary on this subject here.