How the Israel lobby manipulated Kissinger

Eric Grynaviski, at George Washington University, has been digging into the recently released Foreign Relations of the United States volume on the 1973 war. It shows how the lobby works at the highest levels of government.

Early in the war, Nixon had authorized an airlift to resupply Israeli forces, but there was a delay in getting the flights organized because charters were difficult to find. On October 12-13, around midnight, [Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Simcha] Dinitz comes to Kissinger to tell him that Israel cannot conduct an offensive because of a lack of weapons: he needs to start the airlift. Kissinger picks up the phone while Dinitz contines:

So help me, there will be a mutiny here if there are no planes. The Jewish community, and many friends, and the labor movement and the press. I’ve been making no comment. I can’t do it. I have no right, not historical right; we are dealing with the destiny of the people. (461)

Kissinger waves Dinitz silent because he is talking to Schlesinger, the Secretary of Defense and he wants to keep Dinitz presence secret from Schlesinger. After chewing out Schlesiner, even claiming at one point he was intentionally slowing the resupply operation, Kissinger hangs up the phone telling Dinitz:

Kissinger: [hangs up, turns to Dinitz]: They’ll give you ten C–130’s immediately, and will load them with ammunition. And probably fly them with American pilots.

I am not aware, at least in the context of the Nixon administration, of another case where an ambassador listens as one cabinet member chews out another in the presence of a foreign ambassador, especially after a direct political threat.

Interestingly, Kissinger did not believe the resupply was important. Talking to Schlesinger the next day, Kissinger says:

JS: Okay,. Well they simply cannot be that short of ammo, Henry. It is impossible that they didn’t know what their supply was—and suddenly they’ve run out of it.

K: Look, they have obviously screwed up every offensive they’ve conducted. And they are not about to take responsibility themselves. I have no doubt whatever that they are blaming us for their own failures.

JS: Right. (468)

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