Newly Released Nixon Tapes Reveal More Anti-Semitism, Threat of ‘Worst Thing That Happened to Jews in American History’
by Joshua Levitt
New tape recordings released Wednesday by the Nixon Presidential Library revealed more deeply rooted anti-Semitism from the disgraced president, the UK Daily Mail and The Atlantic, reported, after reviewing the recordings.
The anti-Semitic remarks made in conversations and phone calls from 1973 were captured on a secret recording system that President Richard M. Nixon used, which, ultimately, provided evidence in the Watergate scandal, in which his operatives broke into a political competitor’s office in the Watergate Hotel to spy during a campaign.
The final installment of those tapes — 340 hours — was made public by the National Archives and Records Administration, along with more than 140,000 pages of text documents. Seven hundred hours remain sealed for national security reasons, The Daily Mail said.
The Atlantic highlighted a phone call with Jewish Assistant for National Security Affairs and head of the National Security Council at the time, Henry Kissinger, made on April 19, 1973, about an upcoming U.S.-Soviet summit, to which Nixon thought Jewish groups might object.
On the tapes, Nixon said, “Let me say, Henry, it’s gonna be the worst thing that happened to Jews in American history. If they torpedo this summit — and it might go down for other reasons — I’m gonna put the blame on them, and I’m going to do it publicly at 9 o’clock at night before 80 million people.” (“I agree completely,” Kissinger responded. “They brought it on themselves.”) Nixon continued: “I won’t mind one goddamn but to have a little anti-Semitism if it’s on that issue. They put the Jewish interest above America’s interest and it’s about goddamn time that the Jew in America realizes he’s an American first and a Jew second.”
In another instance, Nixon and press secretary Ronald Ziegler were talking about a comment made by Nixon aide and lawyer Leonard Garment, and Nixon yelled, “Goddamn his Jewish soul!”
In a June 13, 1973 conversation with secretary Rose Mary Woods, Nixon discussed the entertainment at an upcoming event, listing entertainers Johnny Mann and Debbie Reynolds, then Nixon asks about Danny Kaye, “and not because of his ideology.” Woods replies, “Well they were going to try to get him but…” Nixon interrupts, asking “He’s Jewish?” Woods ignores him, continuing, “I don’t know what happened whether—” Nixon interjects again: “He’s Jewish.” Woods explains, “They had to check him out with the Russians.”
“Some of the Jews picket can raise hell, but the American people are not going to let them destroy our foreign policy — never!” he added.
In a June 14, 1973 Oval Office meeting with Anne Armstrong, counselor to the president, he gave some guidance on his preference for appointees: “No Jews. We are adamant when I say no Jews. … But I mean don’t say anything don’t let anybody know we didn’t [audio unclear] Jewish. But Mexicans are important. Italians, Eastern Europeans. That sort of thing.”
Faced with impeachment and a possible criminal indictment, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974 — a year after the tapes end — and returned to his native California, where he was pardoned a month later by his successor, President Gerald Ford.