Since the close of World War II, historians, philosophers, politicians and common citizens have debated the response, or the lack thereof, of the United States to the Holocaust in which much of European Jewry was systematically rounded up and deported to extermination camps. A number of articles and books have been written about American indifference to the plight of European Jewry, most notably, “While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy.”
Since World War II, there have been other government sanctioned efforts at genocide:
1994 – Hutu genocide of Tutsi’s in Rwanda
1995 – The Serb genocide of Bosnian Muslims
2003-continuing to this day: The Sudanese government’s sanctioned genocide in Darfur of African farmers by government armed roving Arab militias .
In each of the incidents, much of the world has turned to the most affluent, powerful democracy in human history to provide moral leadership, the United States. At worst, America has responded to these events with caution and apathy. At best, America has, as in the case of of the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims, responded with military might.
It boggles the mind in 2010 to realize that one of the most respected Secretary of State’s in American history, a recipient of the Noble Peace Prize, actually suggested to the President that he worked for that in the event of genocide, the United States would have no responsibilities, no moral obligation to intercede.
As startling as that fact may be, consider that the person in question was a Jew who was talking about a possible second Holocaust of his fellow Jews in the former Soviet Union.
In recent days, the Nixon Library has released a number of new recordings of discussions that took place in the Oval office during the disgraced Presidents term in office. Journalists and historians are carefully reviewing the tapes and sharing their findings.
One such tape offers a disturbing account of an Oval Office conversation on March 1, 1973, that included Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Prime Minister Meir pleaded with the President to put pressure on the leadership of the Soviet Union to allow its Jewish population to emigrate. The millions of Jews living in the former Soviet Union were denied the right to practice or teach Judaism. Many, if not most Soviet Jews were treated with suspicion and were forbidden from leaving the country.
After Meir left the Oval Office, Kissinger, a Jewish refugee from the Nazi Holocaust, is heard to say say: “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” Kissinger goes on to say: “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”
Nixon replies, “I know. We can’t blow up the world because of it.”
Nixon’s anti-Semitic inclinations come as no surprise. But who would have imagined that Henry Kissinger, so profoundly needed to de-Jew his personal identity as to be so treacherous, so callous and indifferent to the possible murder of millions of his fellow Jews? Who would have imagined that any American Secretary of State in the latter part of the 20th Century would exempt America from any moral obligation to intercede in genocide?
One Nobel Laureate that the world in general and the Jewish people in particular can take much more pride in, Elie Wiesel, has noted that,
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
In considering these revelations, one can’t help but wonder if the Nobel Peace Prize can be revoked?
Read more columns by Mitch Gilbert