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Premiere Edition: July 26, 1999

News and Views Covering Society and Celebrity - Travel and Entertainment - Jam-packed with Anecdotes Guaranteed to Amuse and Entertain as Well as Inform and Enlighten

Peter Himmelman rocks The Bottom Line with his flyin' tzitzis

Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk remembers papa making suits for the czar

Believe it or not:

Funny story from the tax auditor

It could have been precarious

Henry Kissinger
Photo by Tim Boxer

Kissinger Found Appeal-ing

"YOU CAN SAY one thing about Germany's ethnic cleansing during World War II. It brought Henry Kissinger to our shores," said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. He presented the World Statesman Award to the former secretary of state at the New York Hilton.

Kissinger revealed that five years before she died, his mother Paula suffered a stroke. He rushed her to the hospital where she lay unconscious for three days.

On the third day she opened her eyes, but she couldn't talk.

She wrote: What day is this? He said Thursday.

She wrote: What time is it? He said 9 a.m.

She wrote: I have a dentist appointment at 10. If you don't cancel it I'll have to pay.

Percy Barnevik of Sweden, a top business leader in Europe who accepted the Appeal of Conscience Award, was convulsed with laughter along with such guests as Inge and Ira Leon Rennert, Abba Eban, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Carroll Petrie, Howard Rubenstein, Mortimer Zuckerman, Joseph and Leonard Wilf, and Farah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran's widow.

Kissinger, the former secretary of state, observed that America is a strange country to conduct foreign policy. "This is the only country in the world populated by immigrants." (I'll have to remind him about my native land, Canada.)

Alluding to Bill Clinton's past efforts to resolve the Balkan crisis peacefully, Kissinger said, "It's an American thing. You take the Serbs and the Muslims, hand them an 80-page document, and tell them this is the final solution to your 400-year problem. Only in America can this happen."

He recalled the time he was trying to mediate between the Turks and the Greeks over the Cyprus crisis. The Turks proposed an idea that sounded workable.

"But Greece would never accept it coming from Turkey," he said. "So I told the Turks to let me propose the idea as originating from the US and they agreed.

Kissinger delivered the proposal to the Greeks as his own brilliant idea, and they readily accepted it.

Then he went back to the Turks with the proposal, and they promptly rejected it.

"It was their own idea!" Kissinger exclaimed.

Kissinger questioned the notion of a just war, remarking that theologians have wrestled with it for a long time.

"More lives have been lost in crusades than in the national interest."

John Whitehead, former deputy secretary of state and former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, presided over the awards dinner. He said he heard Kissinger speak three times this week and he didn't contradict himself once.

"If he did, I doubt we'd know the difference," Whitehead said.

Schneier, the rabbi of Manhattan's prestigious Park East Synagogue, created the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in 1965 to promote religious freedom around the world.

He offered a story about his own mother.

A Holocaust survivor from Vienna, Schneier said his mother always encouraged him to try to become president of the US some day.

"Ma," he would tell her, "that's impossible. I'm not native born."

That did not deter her. She would tell him to set his sights on the White House.

The day John F. Kennedy was assassinated she frantically called her son: "Arthur, you must promise me never to become president of the United States."


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