92. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman)1

    • Comment on Attached Memo from Mr. Garment 2

I assume that, in sending the attached memo to me, you are seeking my comment on the foreign policy aspects of the problem. The bulk of Len’s memo, of course, deals with domestic politics.

The essence of the proposal in the attached is that a political strategy be developed for appealing to the Jewish community on the basis of a hard anti-Soviet line. The method proposed is briefing Jewish community leaders on the extent of the Soviet threat and activities around the world.

There are two foreign policy considerations which should be taken into account:

The principal problem is this: Encouraging middle-class America (Len’s memo describes the bulk of the Jewish community this way) [Page 282] to take an excessively hard stand against the USSR could later tie the President’s hands. For instance, during the period of Egyptian violations of the Israel–UAR military standstill agreement, the Israeli embassy here exploited precisely this anti-Soviet sentiment in marshalling criticism of the Administration. If the day comes when the Administration decides it must press Israel to accept an Arab-Israeli settlement that Israel does not entirely like, then the Israelis will then marshal the anti-Soviet argument along with others. More broadly, it is conceivable that encouraging increased middle-class skepticism of the USSR could affect ratification of any SALT agreement that might be worked out. The President’s policy has been a combination of firmness vis-à-vis the USSR and keeping the door open to cooperation in common interests. This is a delicate line to tread politically, and it would not seem helpful to fan the flames of strong emotions that could make the President’s road more difficult.
A second problem is related to the President’s posture toward the Mid-East itself. The President has, for the most part, avoided personal over-identification with domestic groups representing interests on one side or the other of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Two notable exceptions were in December3 and January a year ago, and the reaction in the area was strong. On balance, his continued aloofness would seem the better course from a strictly foreign policy viewpoint.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 815, Name Files, Garment, Leonard. Confidential. Sent for information. Saunders forwarded a draft of this memorandum (with Sonnenfeldt’s concurrence) to Kissinger on December 21, 1970, noting: “This is basically a domestic, political question. However, it might be appropriate to provide Haldeman with a judgment as to the foreign policy implications of casting about for the Jewish vote on the basis of the rationale that they have been giving Len Garment. In other words, on the one hand there is the simple political question of trying to appeal to the Jewish vote. On the other hand, there is the question of involving the President with an identified group for mainly domestic reasons on the basis of a foreign policy stance that is developed in connection with non-domestic considerations.” (Ibid., Box 405, Subject Files, USSR (Jewish Defense League)) According to several attached notes, neither Kissinger’s nor Garment’s memorandum was forwarded to the President.
  2. Attached but not printed. In his memorandum to Haldeman, November 21, 1970, Garment recommended that the President read an attached paper by Jacques Torczyner, former president of the Zionist Organization of America and national vice president of the World Union of General Zionists. “It is an excellent analysis,” Garment commented, “of the perceptions of American Jews vis-à-vis the Soviet Union and Israel concluding with an assessment of the domestic political situation and some specific recommendations.” Garment also reported that Jewish social and cultural leaders had recently met to “discuss community attitudes toward the Soviet Union and to develop support for the President’s policies.” “Consideration should be given to the President meeting with a group selected from these two meetings,” Garment suggested. “Henry Kissinger would be able to identify likely participants for such a meeting and to assess its value and impact. I think it could do much to advance the objectives we have previously discussed.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 815, Name Files, Garment, Leonard)
  3. See Document 82.