On the recording, the pastor predicts that if Jews come out against evangelical efforts, the nation will turn against them.
Nixon responds that “these people” need to “start behaving.” Graham, condemning pornography and “obscene films,” cites the Bible’s “synagogue of Satan,” which refers to some who claim to be Jewish but are false.
Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Graham’s words “startling.”
“The newly released Nixon tapes only reinforce what we now know about a formidable, but flawed man who was so deeply infected with anti-Semitism that he was unable to see it, even in himself,” Foxman said in a statement released on the group’s Web site.
The aging Graham, who has largely removed himself from public life, responded to the news of the tapes through a spokesman. A. Larry Ross said Graham is not, and has never been, anti-Semitic, according to USA Today.
The conversation between Nixon and Graham was part of 150 hours of tape recordings released online this week by the Nixon library in Yorba Linda, Calif. The recordings were made in January and February 1973.
The library and the National Archives in College Park, Md., which administers the Nixon site, released about 30,000 document pages as well, part of a massive declassification of information from the Nixon administration.
The conversation with Graham lasts more than 15 minutes and touches on international Israeli politics, a D.C. lunch hot spot and Graham’s work. The pastor complains about Jewish leaders speaking out against some of his efforts.
“They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country,” Graham says.
Nixon says he thinks the protests will stir up anti-Semitism.
“They’re going to get the darndest wave of anti-Semitism here if they don’t behave,” the president says.
“You know, it’s unfortunate,” Nixon says. “But this has happened to the Jews. It happened in Spain, it happened in Germany, it’s happening — and now it’s going to happen in America if these people don’t start behaving … it may be they have a death wish. You know that’s been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries.” In a blog posting, JTA, an international Jewish newswire, calls Graham’s Biblical quote “the most disturbing portion of the conversation.”
After Nixon talks about behavior, Graham says, “The Bible talks about two kinds of Jews. One is called the synagogue of Satan, they’re the ones putting out pornographic literature, they’re the ones putting out these obscene films.”
Others said the tapes simply reinforce what many historians have always known.
“Such concerns were not a sudden revelation by the White House recordings,” David Greenberg, a Yale University professor, wrote in the Jewish newspaper The Forward. “On the contrary, they had dogged Nixon from virtually the start of his career.” AOL News