Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told President Richard Nixon that if the Soviet Union sent its Jews to the gas chambers, this would not be an American concern, the New York Times reported Saturday.
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The 1973 conversation, recorded on a newly released batch of White House tapes from the final months before Nixon's presidency became consumed by the Watergate affair, took place shortly after the U.S. president had met with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
Meir had apparently raised the issue of the oppression of Soviet Jewry and the possibility that the Americans would press the Soviet Union to allow the Jews to emigrate. Kissinger, the Times reported, can be heard saying: "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."
Nixon, according to the report, replied: "I know. We can't blow up the world because of it."
The American president can also be heard making many disparaging comments about Jews on the recording, from telling his secretary "I don't want any Jew at that dinner who didn't support us in that campaign" - referring to the state dinner held for the Israeli prime minister - to stating that "The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality."
Other groups singled out by the president were the Irish, who he said "can't drink" because they "get mean," along with the Italians, who he said "don't have their heads screwed on tight."
Nixon also made disparaging remarks about African Americans, saying they would be able to strengthen the United States only after 500 years, because they would need to be "inbred."