Why not just move on? Because the one thing Kissinger never did was to tell his boss that he, Kissinger, found Nixon’s bigotry against African-Americans, Irish, Italians and, yes, Jews offensive. Because we don’t know what other nuggets may emerge from the remaining, still unreleased Nixon White House tapes. Because we need to make clear to our leaders and ourselves that pragmatism or opportunism at the expense of conscience and integrity must never be tolerated.
Still, he did say the magic words: “I am sorry.” Kissinger, after all, never publicly expressed any qualms for his acquiescence in the massacres in East Timor, or his covert role in the violent overthrow of the Allende government in Chile. Perhaps we can all be at least a little grateful for small favors.
Menachem Z. Rosensaft is an adjunct professor of law at the Cornell University Law School, a distinguished visiting lecturer at the Syracuse University College of Law, and a vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.
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Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.
‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except, of course, Henry Kissinger’s publicists and strategists who decided that the slowest news day of the year was the perfect time for him to apologize, sort of, for telling Richard Nixon in 1973 that “if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”