Former president Johnson had strong connection to Israel

Friday, May 30, 2008 |  staff writer  

Tapes released of former US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s conversations in the Oval Office revealed that the American president had an emotional connection to Israel, which scholars claim influenced his policy decisions and helped to lay the foundation for the Israel-US relationship.

“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.

Following the Israeli victory over the Arab armies in 1967, Johnson commented on a conversation he had with the Soviet Prime Minister Alexey Kosygin.

“He couldn't understand why we’d want to support the Jews — 3 million people — when there are 100 million Arabs,” the former 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 Robert Johnson of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said, “It's one of the starkest expressions of a moral obligation to Israel that came from an American President.”

Johnson was one of six presidents to tape nearly all of his Oval Office conversations with a specially installed recording system.

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