Christopher Hitchens, among others, has been waiting to hear the thoughts of the Anti-Defamation League on the matter of Henry Kissinger's craven and obscene comments to his President, the craven and obscene Richard Nixon. This is what Kissinger had to say about the crisis provoked by the suppression of Jews by the Soviet Union: "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."
It's hard to know how to classify this observation in the taxonomy of obscenity. Should it be counted as tactical Holocaust pre-denial? That would be too mild. It's actually a bit more like advance permission for another Holocaust. Which is why I wonder how long the official spokesmen of American Jewry are going to keep so quiet. Nothing remotely as revolting as this was ever uttered by Jesse Jackson or even Mel Gibson, to name only two famous targets of the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League. Where is the outrage? Is Kissinger--normally beseeched for comments on subjects about which he knows little or nothing--going to be able to sit out requests from the media that he clarify this statement? Does he get to keep his op-ed perch in reputable newspapers with nothing said? Will the publishers of his mendacious and purloined memoirs continue to give him expensive lunches as if nothing has happened?"
Here now, recently over the transom, a press release from the Anti-Defamation League:
ADL: KISSINGER REMARKS ON NIXON TAPES REVEAL "DISTURBING FLAWS,"
BUT DO NOT CHANGE HIS LEGACY
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.
The press release goes on to quote Abe Foxman, the ADL director, as saying, "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."
Foxman's reaction to Kissinger's words -- among the most vile ever spoken by a Jew about his own people -- is surpassingly sad to me. He is a better man than his reaction suggests.
UPDATE: Marty Peretz has a different view (not on the merits of Kissinger's vile comments, but on Kissinger's contribution to the safety of the state of Israel:
I know something about Kissinger's maneuvering for the Jewish state and for the Jewish people. I and a few Harvard colleagues were in touch with him, actually met with him during the dread days of the Yom Kippur War when Israel's very survival was at peril. (Henry Rosovsky, Samuel Huntington, Michael Walzer, Thomas Schelling and I comprised the group.) Dr. K. confided to us how difficult it was to persuade his bigoted boss that a great deal of American arms (and sufficient Lockheed C-130s "Hercules" aircraft to deliver them) were needed and needed instantly. There is no doubt in my mind that Kissinger rescued the third commonwealth with these munitions.
Imagine, by the way, if George McGovern had defeated Nixon in the 1972 election. McGovern's enmity to Israel was and is well-documented. There would have been no military aid and no Israel.
So, if Kissinger needed to flatter Nixon in order to convince him, that flattery was also a blessing.