Saturday, November 10, 2007


A far more tempting option than wooing Fulbright came in using perceptions of the administration’s pro-Israel tilt to encourage Jewish liberals to reconsider their hostility to the administration’s foreign policy.

Such a strategy had embarrassed the President the year before, when the Jewish News Agency reported that Johnson had pressured

Nonetheless, Johnson revived the tactic in 1967. The State Department prevailed upon Israeli ambassador Avraham Harman to lobby senators against an amendment sponsored by Frank Church (D-Idaho) to eliminate a Pentagon fund used to distribute military aid without explicit congressional authorization. (The amendment passed anyway, by one vote.) And in this clip with Arthur Goldberg, Johnson urged the UN ambassador to reach out to liberals, suggesting that Senate conservatives were pro-Arab.

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President Johnson: Why don’t you get—come down and visit with some of your Foreign Relations [Committee] friends—

Goldberg: I will. I’m coning down—

President Johnson: Tell them what’s going on.

Goldberg: If this damn circus is over by Wednesday, I’m coming down for the cabinet meeting, and I’ll ask Bill Fulbright to have a little meeting over there, and I’ll talk about things.

President Johnson: Go over and tell them everything that’s happened, so they’ll know.

Goldberg: Sure.

President Johnson: We’re going to have to have them, because if you don’t, some of these Arab Southerners are going to take out on us. They’re already complaining a little bit, and . . .

Goldberg: Yeah. Well, I’d be glad to go in and talk to [Georgia senator] Dick Russell in the Senate, and a few others.

President Johnson: Oh, he really murdered us on—

Goldberg: What the hell was he so excited—was that a Tshombe business?

President Johnson: No, he just—they all got upset. That was kind of a warning, you know, for me not to do anything with Israel.

Goldberg: Yeah.

President Johnson: They wanted to use this—they knew my three planes weren’t going to bother anything.

Goldberg: Uh-huh.

President Johnson: They just wanted to show me that I can’t move without . . . and . . .

Goldberg: They weren’t so vociferous when Ike landed the Marines in Lebanon [in 1958].

President Johnson: No, no. they’re not. But they get awfully vociferous.

I think that we’re all right.

They’re just chewing up our aid program. We’re not going to have any aid program.

Goldberg: Are they?

President Johnson: Fulbright’s just so upset about Vietnam.

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