Thursday, May 29, 2008

  • Thursday, May 29, 2008
  • Elder of Ziyon
Two stories came out today about Lyndon Johnson, both showing what a mensch he was.

First, AP has a story on LBJ's feelings towards Israel as revealed in newly-discovered White House recordings:
Tapes of Lyndon Johnson's Oval Office conversations, released to the public for the first time on Wednesday, reveal that the American president had a personal and often emotional connection to Israel.

In the first public presentation of the tapes Wednesday at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Professor Robert Johnson said this connection influenced his policy decisions and helped lay the foundation for the special relationship between the two nations.

"I sure as hell want to be careful and not run out on little Israel," Johnson said in a March 1968 conversation with his ambassador to the United Nations, Arthur Goldberg. The recording was released to researchers on on May 1, according to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, in Austin, Texas.

The tapes document LBJ's growing belief in the importance of Israel throughout his administration.

In a taped conversation from June 25, 1967, about three weeks after Israel defeated three Arab armies, Johnson relates a conversation with Soviet Premier Alexey Kosygin.

"He couldn't understand why we'd want to support the Jews — 3 million people — when there are 100 million Arabs," the president said. "I told him that numbers do not determine what was right. We tried to do what was right regardless of the numbers."

Professor Johnson said, "It's one of the starkest expressions of a moral obligation to Israel that came from an American President."

He said the former president, who died in 1973, had a romanticized view of Israel that paralleled his view of his home state of Texas: a frontier nation filled with self-made men, often misunderstood by the outside world.
Far more impressive was that LBJ saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust:
Five days after taking office in 1937, LBJ broke with the “Dixiecrats” and supported an immigration bill that would naturalize illegal aliens, mostly Jews from Lithuania and Poland. In 1938, Johnson was told of a young Austrian Jewish musician who was about to be deported from the United States. With an element of subterfuge, LBJ sent him to the U.S. Consulate in Havana to obtain a residency permit. Erich Leinsdorf, the world famous musician and conductor, credited LBJ for saving his life.

That same year, LBJ warned a Jewish friend that European Jews faced annihilation. Somehow, Johnson provided him with a pile of signed immigration papers that were used to get 42 Jews out of Warsaw. But that wasn’t enough. According to historian, James M. Smallwood, Congressman Johnson used legal and sometimes illegal methods to smuggle “hundreds of Jews into Texas, using Galveston as the entry port. Enough money could buy false passports and fake visas in Cuba, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. … Johnson smuggled boatloads and planeloads of Jews into Texas. He hid them in the Texas National Youth Administration…. Johnson saved at least four or five hundred Jews, possibly more..”

On June 4, 1945, Johnson visited the Dachau concentration camp. According to historian Smallwood, Lady Bird later recalled that “when her husband returned home, he was still shaken, stunned, terrorized, and ‘bursting with an overpowering revulsion and incredulous horror at what he had seen.’”


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