102. Memorandum From President Nixon to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
In your talk with Rabin2 and also in your further talk with Mrs. Meir if you have it I think it is important that you lay it on the line with regard to Israel’s interest going far beyond the present conflict.
Israel is relying on the peace at any price Democrats, Mansfield, Fulbright, Symington et al, and on some Republicans like Goodell and Scott3 to come through for them in the event we come to a crunch, not just in aid but in case Israel is threatened directly by Soviet power.
What they must realize is that these people are very weak reeds. They will give Israel a lot of lip service but they are peace at any price people. When the chips are down they will cut and run, not only as they are presently cutting and running in Vietnam but also when any conflict in the Mideast stares them straight in the face.
On the other hand, their real friends (to their great surprise) are people like Goldwater, Buckley,4 RN et al who are considered to be [Page 339] hawks on Vietnam but who in the broader aspects are basically not cut and run people whether it is in Vietnam, the Mideast, Korea or any place else in the world. They may be concerned, for example, that Buckley wrote a column indicating displeasure that the Jewish community demonstrated against Pompidou and didn’t demonstrate against Kosygin. This, however, is the most fundamental point of all. They must recognize that our interests are basically pro-freedom and not just pro-Israel because of the Jewish vote. We are for Israel because Israel in our view is the only state in the Mideast which is pro freedom and an effective opponent to Soviet expansion. We will oppose a cut and run policy either in Vietnam or Cuba or the Mideast or NATO or any place else in the world. This is the kind of friend that Israel needs and will continue to need, particularly when the going gets very tough in the next five years.
It is time for Israel (and I don’t think it will do any good to suggest this to the American Jewish community) to face up to the fact that their only reliable friends are the hawks in this country—those that are hawks in the best sense when it comes to Soviet expansionism any place in the world, not just Soviet expansionism in the Mideast.
They think, for example, that in the event some move is made in the Mideast that what really counts is to have Lindsay,5 Goodell or Scott to come out for more arms to Israel. Lindsay, Goodell and Scott can deliver only their own votes despite the fact that Manny Celler6 got 200 names on a Congressional petition which was presented to me (incidentally, a very stupid move on their part since it was so unnecessary and so obvious a move).
What they must understand is that people like Goodell, Scott and Lindsay have no character and that when the crunch comes they will cave. What they must also realize is that people like RN, Buckley, Goldwater et al will stand up for them when the crunch comes basically because we admire them for their character and their strength and because we see in Israel the only state in that part of the world which will not become an abject tool of Soviet policy the moment the Soviet begins to flex its missiles.
What all this adds up to is that Mrs. Meir, Rabin et al must trust RN completely. He does not want to see Israel go down the drain and makes an absolute commitment that he will see to it that Israel always has “an edge.” On the other hand, he must carry with him not just the Jewish constituency in New York and Pennsylvania and California and possibly Illinois which voted 95 percent against him, but he must carry [Page 340] with him the 60 percent of the American people who are in what is called the silent majority and who must be depended upon in the event that we have to take a strong stand against Soviet expansionism in the Mideast. Only when the Israeli leaders realize this fact are they going to have any kind of security which will be reliable.
This is tough talk for them to hear because they read the Jewish press, the New York Times, the Washington Post and also listen to the media and get the impression that because they have so much clout with some of those people that they will get their way. They must realize that that group has lost its credibility with the American people and that they are not going to get their way with a majority of Americans when the chips are really down.
In this connection, they must realize that one of their best friends also is Agnew. Agnew will stand up and be counted in the event there is a Soviet expansionist move in the Mideast. On the other hand, he will not stand just as I will not stand for a double standard. We are going to stand up in Vietnam and in NATO and in the Mideast, but it is a question of all or none. This is it cold turkey and it is time that our friends in Israel understood this.
We are going to be in power for at least the next three years and this is going to be the policy of this country. Unless they understand it and act as if they understood it beginning now they are down the tubes.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 652, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East, Vol. I. Confidential.↩
- See Document 104.↩
- Senators Mike Mansfield (D–MT), J. William Fulbright (D–AR), Stuart Symington (D–MO), Charles Goodell (R–NY), Hugh Scott, Jr. (R–PA).↩
- Senator Barry Goldwater (R–AZ) and William F. Buckley, nationally-syndicated columnist and founder of National Review magazine.↩
- John Lindsay, Mayor of New York City.↩
- Congressman Emanuel Celler (D–NY).↩