American Jewish groups lobbying the Nixon White House on behalf of their Soviet brethren got under Henry Kissinger's skin in demanding intense pressure on Moscow to the point that he denounced them to a White House colleague as self-serving "bastards," newly released documents indicate.
Among the appeals flooding the White House was one from the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir to President Richard Nixon in August 1972 asking him to protest to the Kremlin its levying of fees for exit permits.
The White House, defending its strategy of quiet diplomacy, sought to assure the American Jews that Nixon was very concerned about the plight of Soviet Jews, had taken up the issue with Soviet leaders directly and remained convinced that quiet diplomacy was the best approach, the documents related.
A White House official, Leonard Garment, saying he was flooded with letters and phone calls with Jewish appeals, asked Kissinger for help and guidance. The late Alexander Haig, Nixon's national security adviser, sent him Mrs. Meir's letter and said "We will have to consider the best means by which to proceed."
According to transcripts released by the State Department, Kissinger, who was Haig's deputy, said to Garment: "Is there a more self-serving group of people than the Jewish community?" Kissinger is Jewish.
Garment, also Jewish, replied: "None in the world."
At this point, Kissinger was quoted as saying "What the hell do they think they are accomplishing?"
Kissinger went on: "You can't even tell bastards anything in confidence because they'll leak it."
But Kissinger said he would take up the issue with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and also meet again with Jewish leaders. "They ought to remember what this administration has done," he said.
The remarks were contained in documents dealing with U.S.-Soviet relations released by the State Department.
A call to Kissinger's New York office seeking comment was not immediately returned late Thursday.