Since former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger served at the highest levels of government in the 1970s, he has portrayed himself as one with the Jewish community, accepting awards from the Anti-Defamation League and bestowing awards on behalf of Jewish organizations like the United Jewish Appeal.
However, what has been coming out over the years in dribs and drabs paints a different picture, one of a man who, and this is putting it charitably, has a conflicted attitude about Israel and his fellow Jews.
Two years ago, declassified White House transcripts revealed former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger blaming Israel for exacerbating problems in the Middle East. His remarks no doubt shook those American Jews who admired Kissinger as a ‘native son’ who made good, rising to startling prominence in America’s halls of power.
Now, a new book, “Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight Against Zionism as Racism” (Oxford University Press, 2013) tarnishes
Kissinger’s star even further. What it shows about Kissinger is of a piece with the White House transcripts released two years ago. The author, Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University, does a superb job describing the 1975 conflict that swirled around the UN’s infamous Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism.
Troy relates the dramatic story of how Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, battled the resolution’s adoption. What emerges is an unflattering portrait of Kissinger, Moynihan’s boss, who is shown in words and deeds to have undermined Moynihan’s efforts.
On April 12, 1975, months before the resolution was even proposed, Kissinger invited newly minted UN Ambassador Moynihan to his office and warned: “One major problem you will have is on Israel. We must dissociate ourselves a bit from Israel – not to destroy them but to prevent them from becoming a Sparta, with only military solutions to every problem.”
At the heart of the conflict between Moynihan and Kissinger, Troy explains, was a decades-old clash around American foreign policy between idealists and realists. Kissinger, a practitioner of realpolitik, saw morality and idealism as an unsuitable basis for foreign policy, whereas Moynihan believed in championing America’s values abroad. He viewed Resolution 3379 as an attack not just on Israel but on liberal democracy everywhere.
The difference in their worldviews, however, does not fully explain the hostility Kissinger manifested towards Israel. As Moynihan revved up his fight against Resolution 3379, Kissinger groused, “We are conducting foreign policy. This is not a synagogue.” Troy writes: “Kissinger and his aides mocked Moynihan’s Israel obsession. They wondered if he planned on converting.” “I will not put up with any more of Moynihan. I will not do it,” Kissinger said later. “He is going wild about the Israeli issues.”
Moynihan dealt with all kinds of pressure, Troy writes, but the pressure from Kissinger was the most difficult to bear. Hours before the resolution passed, Moynihan received instructions from Kissinger to “tone it down.” As Moynihan made his way to the General Assembly plenary, Kissinger demanded …read more