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02 January 2011

Kissinger's Remarks About Jews Rankle

By Kathryn Boughton

KENT—There was a muted but dismayed response among the Jewish community this week after remarks made by President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, now a resident of Kent, were made public on newly released tapes.

‘Not an American Concern’

Mr. Kissinger is heard on the 1973 tapes saying, “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”

The late president replies, “I know. We can’t blow up the world because of it.”

‘Very Offensive’

Joel Abramson of Southbury said this week that he was “painfully aware” of the former Secretary of State’s remarks. “Yeah, I find it very, very offensive,” he said. “The language that [gassing Jews] would not be an American concern—ahhh, when you look at what America stands for, I think it is an American concern all right.”

But, he added, he is aware that major figures in the Jewish world are urging people to put the remarks in perspective “because [Mr. Kissinger] did good things for the country.”

“Nevertheless,” he continued, “We now know what kind of guy a Nixon was. And to have a person who is Jewish with the kind of background Kissinger has in escaping from the Nazis toadying to his boss ... . He didn’t even try to stand up to him. It is a Jewish issue, but ultimately it’s a human rights issue. It is what is America all about.”

Robert Zwang, executive director of The Federation, Jewish Communities of Western Connecticut, said that he has met Dr. Kissinger upon occasion over the past decade. “I have heard different stories over the years about the politics of that time,” he said, confessing that he had been in junior high school at the time Kissinger was in power. “I never knew how much he identifies himself as being Jewish, but all I can say based on the quote—and it is an outrageous quote—is that it almost sounds as if he’s compartmentalized his role as Secretary of State of the United States in deciding it would not be a concern of our country. But how one compartmentalizes their [life] like that is beyond me.”

Still, Mr. Zwang said, Dr. Kissinger is “a smart guy. I don’t know enough about the politics back then and what machinations they had to employ, but his first priority appears to have been the safety of our country: Read full story: http://www.countytimes.com/articles/2010/12/23/news/doc4d1367c66b3f3163244662.txt?viewmode=2