Jewish Journal


June 25, 2009

Nixon and the Jews, Billy Graham and the ‘Synagogue of Satan’



Nixon and Graham

No one ever accused President Richard Nixon of having lots of Jewish friends. His paranoia about Jewish influence and their drugs was, to say the least, disconcerting. And the release yesterday of 150 hours of additional Nixon tapes seems to have affirmed what many Jews already believed.

A segment of the tapes getting the most attention concerns a conversation between Nixon and the Rev. Billy Graham.

From JTA’s Capital J blog:

Nixon seems to believe that if the Jews simply “behaved” themselves, there wouldn’t be any problems.

“Deep down in this country there is a lot of anti-Semitism. All this is going to do is stir it up,” said Nixon.

Graham agrees, responding that anti-Semitism in America is “right under the surface” and that this will bring it “right to the top.”

Nixon continues, “Anti-Semitism is stronger than we think. You know, it’s unfortunate. But this has happened to the Jews. It happened in Spain, it happened in Germany, it’s happening — and now it’s going to happen in America if these people don’t start behaving.”

A little later in the 20-minute conversation, Nixon says there’s nothing he wants to do more than to be a friend of both Israel and American Jews, but says that he will “have to turn back a terrible tide here if they don’t get a hold of it themselves.”

“They better understand it quick, because there are elements in this country, not just the Birchers, but a lot of reasonable people that are getting awfully sick of it.”

JTA’s writer, Eric Fingerhut, then goes on to mention Graham’s promotion of the efforts of Jews for Jesus, which are “frightening” young Jews into converting and he mentions Graham’s reference to the “Synagogue of Satan.” The latter comment is what really seems to have Billy Graham, the most influential Christian leader of the 20th century, in trouble.

To start with, Synagogue of Satan is a favored phrase of those trying to warn the world of Jewish plans for global domination. Here’s one book by that title and another web page from the conspiracy theorist Texe Marrs dedicated to exposing the Jew World Order. But is the phrase patently anti-Semitic or is it something that varies in its offensiveness depending on the context?

Billy Graham’s spokesman, A. Larry Ross, would argue the latter:

Ross, said in a press release Wednesday, that Revelation is referring to anyone “whose lives and work are not in keeping with traditional Jewish values. Throughout his ministry, Mr. Graham has consistently stood for purity of life and the sacredness of home and marriage, according to biblical precepts found in both the Old and New Testaments.”

This doesn’t answer the question of whether Graham harbored anti-Semitic beliefs. But it is a reasonable explanation for why he would use such an expression. And it certainly is the kind of expression that a preacher, as opposed to a lay person, would be more likely to use in conversation.

Regardless of what Graham, who is 90, truly felt about Jews, he may have a hard time now convincing people that he was any different than Nixon in his suspicion of “God’s timepiece.”

“While never expressing these views in public,” ADL director Abe Foxman said, “Rev. Graham unabashedly held forth with the president with age-old classical anti-Semitic canard

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