January 1st, 2008

Chris Keeley

Jerusalem Post Item on Henry Kissinger

Bygone Days: Complex Jew. Inside Kissinger's soul

Yehuda Avner , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 26, 2007

The impending arrival of President George W. Bush calls to mind the first occasion when an American president visited Israel: Richard Nixon, in 1974. I was then on the staff of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin - it was his first term - and insiders conjectured that the president's Middle East jaunt was a desperate ploy to distract the American people's attention away from the burgeoning Watergate scandal. Nixon, so pundits avowed, sought credit for secretary of state Henry Kissinger's brilliant handling of the post-Yom Kippur War disengagement accords so as to project himself as a world class statesman and indispensable peacemaker.

Comments of this sort reverberated among the crush of correspondents, photographers, and radio and television reporters in the main dining hall of the King David Hotel, waiting for Kissinger to arrive for a wrap-up news conference, while Nixon concluded his talks with Rabin. What brought me there was not simply the press conference, but also an old friend by the name of Willie Fort (a pseudonym), whom I knew from my Washington days at our embassy.

Willie was about my age, in his mid-forties, but you would not have thought so by his looks. Short and chubby, he had a kind of durably boyish face topped by jet black hair that flowed from a center part and glistened like shining glass, a bit like Bob Hope. There was mirth in his brilliantly clever eyes, and his entire apparel - he habitually sported extravagantly patterned suits over flashy shirts and flamboyant ties - exuded an irrepressible bonhomie.

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