WASHINGTON (Nov. 20)
As the appointments and tendencies of the new Nixon Administration slowly unfold, there has been no indication of the nature of the answer to questions raised in the American Jewish community. Intensive consultations have been conducted by President-elect Richard M. Nixon with his inner circle of associates. But so far there has not been any disclosure of the new Administration’s philosophy on its relations with American Jewry, JTA’s Washington correspondent Milton Friedman reports.
The State Department, mindful of the Middle East situation, is carefully observing Mr. Nixon’s deliberations. The career diplomats do not want a Jewish staff member in the White House who would provide intimate advice to the President on Jewish concerns, nor do they want a personal confidant outside the executive mansion with ready access to Mr. Nixon. A personality like Max M. Fisher of Detroit might logically function as such a confidant. Such men would stand as buffers between the State Department policy-makers and the President on issues involving Israel.
The last White House staff man who held the status that the diplomats would prefer to have eliminated was Myer Feldman, who served as special counsel to President Kennedy and. for a time, to President Johnson. In addition to other duties, he advised on American-Israeli relations and maintained liaison between the White House and the Jewish community.
Mr. Nixon, in his October appearance before the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was accompanied by Mr. Fisher and Martin R. Pollner, a New York law associate. He reportedly stated at that time that the Jewish community would have representation at the White House. Mr. Pollner, who helped Mr. Fisher coordinate Republican political efforts among Jews, has been mentioned as a logical choice to assume a role somewhat like that once held by Mr. Feldman on the White House staff.
Mr. Fisher’s friendship with Mr. Nixon, his role in the United Jewish Appeal, and support of Israel are well known to the State Department. State Department officials are fully aware that Mr. Fisher played a vital role in Mr. Nixon’s address last summer before B’nai B’rith in which Mr. Nixon pledged to tip the Middle East power balance in Israel’s favor to deter aggression. Career diplomats, among whom there is a strong pro-Arab bias, resented the Nixon position and its indications that he would take a strong stand against Arab aggression and Soviet penetration. Mr. Nixon appointed Mr. Fisher his special adviser on urban and community affairs. Mr. Fisher also presided over a drive in the Jewish community that generated unprecedented financial and political support for the Nixon-Agnew ticket.
Leonard Garment, a member of Mr. Nixon’s New York law firm, is a Jew who also took a prominent part at the top echelon of the Nixon campaign. He is expected to assume an important post in the new Administration, possibly dealing with minority problems. Mr. Garment has already come under open attack from right-wing Republicans.
The Nov. 23 issue of the Conservative newsletter “Human Events” assailed Mr. Garment in an article headed “Liberal Noses in Nixon Tent.” It said that “there are those who feel the President-elect would do well to keep a wary eye on some of his more liberal advisers. Insiders in the Nixon camp. for instance, are particularly worried about Leonard Garment…a political liberal…Garment has been reported as shopping in liberal Democratic circles for both Nixon policies and appointments. There is growing fear that he may have an important influence over certain Cabinet selections.”