91. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

    • Your Proposed Response to a Message from Jewish Leaders on Recent Violence Against Soviet Facilities

Max Fisher has sent you a telegram, subscribed to by Jewish leaders in some 70 cities around the country, condemning the bombing of the Soviet cultural office in Washington and other recent acts of violence against Soviet facilities (Tab B).2 The message supplements its strong condemnation with support for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate or, if they wish to remain in Russia, to enjoy religious and cultural freedom. Moderate Jewish organizations feel strongly that they must re-affirm this latter position, lest they create sympathy for the radical Jewish Defense League.

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Your proposed response, which Len Garment3 and Ray Price have seen and approve, seeks to strike a similar balance, although without explicitly mentioning the plight of Soviet Jews. (Tab A)4 Your proposed text is designed to put you on record, vis-à-vis the Soviets, not only as condemning violence against their facilities but as being committed to all possible steps to prevent violence and to prosecute individuals that engage in such acts. It draws in part on language provided by the Department of State.5

It will be desirable to publish simultaneously, on Monday, January 11, at the Western White House the texts of the incoming message from Fisher and your response.


That you approve the text and dispatch of your proposed message to Max Fisher and other Jewish leaders (Tab A).
That you agree to publication at San Clemente in the course of Monday, January 11, the texts of both the Fisher telegram and your response (Tabs A and B).
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 405, Subject Files, USSR (Jewish Defense League). Top Secret. Sent for action. A notation indicates that the President saw the memorandum. Butterfield wrote the following note in the margin: “Request your approval prior to Ziegler’s [January 11] 12:30 p.m. press announcements.” According to an attached handwritten note, Jon Howe phoned Ziegler—presumably to give final approval—at 12:35 p.m. on January 11.
  2. Dated January 10; attached but not printed. For the text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, p. 29.
  3. Haig sent a copy of the draft message to Garment on January 11. Garment revised the text, which he returned to Haig with the following handwritten note: “Al: The President’s note is too impersonal and foggy. I’ve suggested a couple of changes that would make it less so.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, Leonard Garment, Alpha-Subject Files, Box 117, Jewish Matters 1971 [3 of 3]) None of these revisions was incorporated in the final text.
  4. Dated January 11; attached but not printed. For the text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 28–29.
  5. In an undated memorandum to Kissinger, Haig remarked that Kissinger had already rejected a Department of State draft that included a “Presidential expression of support for the plight of Soviet Jewry.” Haig further noted: “The last part of this project is the legal action now being considered jointly between State and Justice. As I told you yesterday, John Mitchell has strong reservations about the legal route. He stated he would call you after proceeding with refining his thinking. You may wish to call him today before talking with the President on this aspect of the problem. As you know, the President, like you, now supports legal action, but he has not been given the benefit of any counter-arguments.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 405, Subject Files, USSR (Jewish Defense League))
  6. The President initialed his approval of each recommendation.