Could Nixon Hate Jews But Like Israel?

In a retrospective marking the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in (June 17, 1972), the Washington Post reporters who broke the story and won the Pulitzer prize for it, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, analyzed the disgraced former president's  "five successive and overlapping wars — against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system and, finally, against history itself. "

In one of those, Nixon's war on the news media, his "anti-Semitic rages" played a prominent role. Jews, in his paranoid view, were everywhere and out to get him.

 “The government is full of Jews. Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean?" he was recorded telling chief of staff Bob Haldeman on one of the infamous White House tapes.  The only exceptions he could think of were three top aides.  "You have a Garment [White House counsel Leonard Garment] and a Kissinger and, frankly, a Safire [presidential speechwriter William Safire], and, by God, they’re exceptions. But Bob, generally speaking, you can’t trust the bastards. They turn on you.”

Haldeman agreed, telling the boss, "Their whole orientation is against you. In this administration, anyway. And they are smart. They have the ability to do what they want to do–which is to hurt us."

Jews were a part of the cabal out to get him, a cabal that included, Daniel Ellsberg, the antiwar movement, the press, the American left and Liberals in Congress, "all of whom he conflated," according to Woodward and Bernstein.  Ellsberg, who is Jewish, had leaked the Pentagon Papers and was targeted by Nixon's thugs who broke into his psychiatrist's office in search of information to smear Ellsberg and undermine his credibility.

 “You can’t let the Jew steal that stuff and get away with it. You understand?” Nixon told Haldeman on June 29, 1971. “People don’t trust these Eastern establishment people. He’s Harvard. He’s a Jew. You know, and he’s an arrogant intellectual.”

"Nixon’s anti-Semitic rages were well-known to those who worked most closely with him, including some aides who were Jewish," the authors said, quoting the President telling aides, “the Jewish cabal is out to get me.”

To this day some of Nixon's apologists dismiss his anti-Semitism by insisting his decision to resupply Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur war gives him some sort of absolution. But his decision can be viewed in a different light, a larger strategic perspective that had less to do with the survival of the Jewish state than with America's Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union, whose clients were out to destroy America's client state in the long-running surrogate warfare. 

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.