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White House Denies Reported Johnson View on U.S. Jewish Attitude

October 7, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A White House aide has described as “wholly fanciful” inferences that President Johnson had “linked American Jewish support for this country’s struggle in Viet Nam with continued United States support for Israel.”

The statement was made by Harry C. McPherson, special counsel to the President, in a letter to Peter J. Molay of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, a college student. Mr. Molay had written to the President, asking for a clarification of the controversy which erupted last month after a Jewish War Veterans delegation met with the President at the White House. After the JWV meeting with the President, Malcolm Tarlov, JWV commander, told White House correspondents that the President was puzzled over expressions of dissent by Jewish leaders against United States military efforts in the Viet Nam conflict, at a time when he was taking new steps to aid Israel.

Declaring that “the President has asked me to respond to your recent letter,” Mr. McPherson also sent to Mr. Molay a statement by Dr. William A. Wexler, president of B’nai B’rith. Mr. McPherson called the Wexler statement “an important contribution to an understanding of the President’s views on the question you raise in your letter.” The White House official ended his brief reply with this sentence: “Any inference in news stories that the President linked American Jewish support in Viet Nam with continued United States support for Israel is wholly fanciful.”

Dr. Wexler issued his statement after he and Rabbi Jay Kaufman, B’nai B’rith executive vice-president had met on the controversy with the President in the White House on September 10, at the President’s invitation. In his statement, Dr. Wexler said B’nai B’rith placed “little credence in the validity of the statements attributed to President Johnson” on this issue.

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