WASHINGTON (JTA) – Henry Kissinger in 1972 called Jews "self-serving" because of pleas from the community for the Nixon administration to increase the pressure on the Soviet Union to allow its Jews to leave.
"Is there a more self-serving group of people than the Jewish community?" Kissinger, who is Jewish, asks Leonard Garment, also Jewish, in transcripts of a 1972 exchange released this week by the State Department and reported by The Associated Press.
Garment, a special counsel to President Nixon, replied: "None in the world."
Kissinger, who at the time was the national security adviser, added: "What the hell do they think they are accomplishing? You can’t even tell bastards anything in confidence because they’ll leak it.”
Nonetheless, Kissinger tells Garment he will raise the issue with the Soviet ambassador.
Kissinger resented the Jewish community’s emphasis on releasing Jews, saying it detracted from the overall White House strategy of achieving detente with the Soviet Union — a strategy he to this day maintains would have brought greater success for Soviet Jewry, although veterans of the movement adamantly disagree.
Kissinger’s office said he was traveling and not immediately available for comment. A request to Garment for comment, emailed to a law firm where he is last known to have had offices, went unanswered.
Revelations of Kissinger’s disparagement of Jews during his Nixon years have at times led to him apologizing; most recently, last December, he said he was "sorry" for telling Nixon in 1973 that it would not be an American concern if the Soviets were to consign Jews to death camps.