Dixon Thanks Mrs. Meir for Message on Viet Speech; Report Ex-lbj Aides’ Startled

The White House has disclosed that President Richard M. Nixon “deeply appreciated” Israeli Premier Golda Meir’s recent message of praise for his Nov. 3 Vietnam speech. In a reply to Mrs. Meir, Mr. Nixon said he was “grateful” for her “thoughtful message,” was “pleased by its positive reception in the United States” and was “especially gratified to know that leaders around the world like the Prime Minister have found hope in it.”

Israeli official circles have denied that Mrs. Meir’s message constituted an endorsement of the President’s Vietnam policy. But the United States Information Service in Israel published a contrary interpretation. A press release handed out last week on the Meir letter carried the headline “Israel’s Prime Minister Backs Nixon’s Vietnam Policy.” The release was datelined Washington.

In her message, Mrs. Meir congratulated Mr. Nixon on his “meaningful speech” expressed “hope that he will speedily succeed in bringing about peace in Vietnam. The President’s speech contains much that encourages and strengthens freedom-loving small nations the world over which, striving to maintain their independent existence, look to that great democracy, the United States,” she declared.

Meanwhile, a Washington columnist nationally syndicated by Newsday, a Long Island newspaper, has reported that the White House attaches great significance to the Meir message. Nick Thimmesch reported that “Golda Meir’s unexpected message of congratulation to President Nixon on his Vietnam speech has delighted the White House and startled former aides of (former) President Lyndon E. Johnson who panted in vain for such support when he was stuck with running the war.” The well-informed correspondent disclosed that “Dr. Henry Kissinger, the President’s National Security advisor, took one look at the communication, as relayed by Walworth Barbour, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and urged President Nixon to respond immediately.”

Mr. Thimmesch said that “Johnson yearned for any kind of support message from Israel on Vietnam. But was rejected. He asked “why did Nixon, who got 17 percent of the Jewish vote in 1968, get the message which Lyndon Johnson, who got nearly all the Jewish vote in 1964, desperately wanted?” replying to this rhetorical question, Mr. Thimmesch said that Mrs. Meir “developed a personal sympathy for Nixon during her recent state visit to Washington as his guest.

Mrs. Meir knows that while Nixon isn’t popular with American Jews, Israeli military leaders like him, and in a recent policy statement she described him as an old friend of the state.” said Mr. Thimmesch. Although the Arab onslaught against Israel and the U.S. involvement in Vietnam “are not analogous.-…Mrs. Meir feels that she and Mr. Nixon are two world leaders in a real fix…Israel fears that if the U.S. pulls out of Vietnam in humiliation, the Arab world, particularly the radical Arab states, would be encouraged to make more war on Israel,” wrote Mr. Thimmesch. He stressed that Mrs. Meir is shrewd enough to know that her support of Nixon’s Vietnam policy is a welcome tonic for the President which could be repaid by delivery of even more than the 50 American Phantom jet fighters to Israel.” already enroute there.

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