Nixon: If only the Jews would behave….


Another release of Richard Nixon tapes, another recording of the former president saying negative things about Jews. So what else is new?

Tuesday’s batch of 150 hours of recordings included a 20-minute February 21, 1973 conversation between Nixon and evangelist Billy Graham, an unappealing sequel of sorts to a conversation they’d had the previous year about Jewish control of the media.

This time, they’re primarily talking about Jewish opposition to Christian evangelical efforts, which they both agreed would make Americans turn against the Jewish community. Nixon seems to believe that if the Jews simply "behaved" themselves, there wouldn’t be any problems.

"Deep down in this country there is a lot of anti-Semitism. All this is going to do is stir it up," said Nixon.

Graham agrees, responding that anti-Semitism in America is "right under the surface" and that this will bring it "right to the top."

Nixon continues, "Anti-Semitism is stronger than we think. You know, it’s unfortunate. But this has happened to the Jews. It happened in Spain, it happened in Germany, it’s happening — and now it’s going to happen in America if these people don’t start behaving."

A little later in the 20-minute conversation, Nixon says there’s nothing he wants to do more than to be a friend of both Israel and American Jews, but says that he will "have to turn back a terrible tide here if they don’t get a hold of it themselves."

"They better understand it quick, because there are elements in this country, not just the Birchers, but a lot of reasonable people that are getting awfully sick of it." The term Birchers is an reference to members of the extreme right-wing John Birch Society.

When Graham talks of how many leaders "in the church are shaken by this" because they have "been the most pro-Israel" and are now "being attacked,"  Nixon says about Jews that "it may be they have a death wish. You know that’s been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries."

Graham then starts discussing how "so many" Jewish young people "are turning away from Judaism" and that’s "scaring" Jews "to death." He specifically cites "Jews for Jesus" efforts on campus as "frightening" Jewish leaders and leading to an overreaction.

The most distrurbing portion of the conversation comes when Graham appears to blame Jews for pornography.

During one of their exchanges about the need for Jews to behave, Graham interjects, "The Bible talks about two kinds of Jews. One is called the synagogue of Satan, they’re the ones putting out pornographic literature, they’re the ones putting out these obscene films." Nixon then interrupts to talk about articles in Time and Newsweek magazines that he apparently believed to be inappropriate.

The conversation came shortly after Israel had shot down a civilian Libyan airliner that had mistakenly ventured into Israeli airspace over the Sinai. Nixon calls it "worse than what they did at the Olympics," referring to the 1972 Black September terrorist attack that killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, and Graham discusses with Nixon the embarrassment that then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir would face over the incident when she came to Washington the following week..

To listen to the entire conversation, click here.

Also released yesterday was a National Security Council document discussing whether the U.S. should pressure Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and what arguments it might use for that purpose. The document recommends that the president write a letter to the prime minister stressing its hope Israel would sign.

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