A friend asked me, “Why hasn’t there been outrage over the revelation of what Henry Kissinger said to President Nixon?” There has been some, such as this article in the J Post, but there certainly has not been as much condemnation as there should be. Why? The answer is far more complicated than you might think.
What did Kissinger say? The conversation revealed in the Nixon tapes following Golda Meir’s appeal to help Soviet Jewry (according to the J Post article) went like this:
“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” The New York Times on Saturday quoted Kissinger, then secretary of state, as saying 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.”
Nixon replies: “I know. We can’t blow up the world because of it.”
My friend said that he was going to write President Obama to urge him to state that he would not allow Jews to be gassed. My response to him was that I guarantee that the US WOULD allow such a thing to happen if the alternative was a potential nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union. That is exactly what Nixon was saying in response, “We can’t blow up the world because of it.”
I think that it is unfortunately the case that Kissinger was right about American concern, just as it would have been right to say that during the 1930s. Americans didn’t care enough about the Jews to fight for them. The US didn’t want to use bombs to save Jews during WWII, even a few to blow up rail lines! It did nothing prior to WWII to even try to save the Jews. In fact, the US turned Jews back to Europe to face the gas chambers because it didn’t care enough, not because it didn’t know what terrible fates Jews would face. The US certainly would not have fought a nuclear conflict against the USSR a decade after the Cuban Missile crisis in order to save Jews.
Oh, American Presidents would certainly fight for biting sanctions! They would condemn the massacre of Jews up one side and down the other, decry it in the UN! but launch a WAR? Roosevelt would not. Nixon would not. Guess what? Neither would any other American President and you can forget any leader of any other nation even contemplating it.
This is why there must be a strong and secure Israel. This is why borders and settlements pale in comparison to the security issue. This is why the US should never pressure Israel in a manner that jeopardizes its security. Neither the US nor any other nation with the exception of Israel would fight to save the Jews. This is, beyond any other reason, why the Jewish people need the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, Kissinger is no Jewish hero.