One cannot undertake criticism of Henry Kissinger lightly; however, the transcripts of the conversations between President Nixon and him are most damning. Despite his protestations, there is no context in which one needs to view his remarks regarding the potential for gassing of Soviet Jews. His penchant for realpolitik and his disregard for human rights may have been his practical way to survive in the hostile environment of Washington, but to brush off the real risk to any people – let alone his – as he did, was unforgivable.
This conversation, though, pales in comparison to the very active role he played in trying to slow the airlift to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Here was a real circumstance of Jews dying and the Jewish state in mortal danger. For him to wish to delay the provision of critically needed munitions and supplies, despite the support of Nixon, makes one wonder who was the greater supporter of the Jewish people at that time.
All this is reminiscent of the passage in the Book of Esther where Mordechai tells Queen Esther, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Book of Esther 4:13-14) How sad that a Jew who attained such a high place in power and history did not know enough of his own people’s history. He will go down in our collective memory with revulsion and shame.