Reagan advisers confirmed this to me, including Shultz. When I asked Shultz about it, his typical understated expression widened into a giant grin. “Oh, yes,” he told me. “He always had that list and never hesitated to give me a few names.”
I believe that Ronald Reagan’s feelings for Russian Jews might be traceable as far back as November 1928, when his devout Christian mother, head of the Missions Committee at their little church in Dixon, Illinois, brought in a Russian Jew named B.E. Kertchman. Kertchman spoke about persecution he faced. That empathy never left Reagan. Two decades later, in 1947, I discovered Reagan, as a young actor in Hollywood, a liberal Democrat, working with Eleanor Roosevelt to find safe haven for Europe’s “Displaced Persons” (mostly Jews) after World War II.
Again, this is a striking contrast with Kissinger-Nixon, but it’s more than that.
Reagan was seen as the ultimate Cold Warrior, giving no quarter to the “Evil Empire.” Yet, his care for the everyday lives of human beings languishing in the USSR went largely unnoticed. That’s too bad, as that concern is a moving testimony of where this president’s heart guided him. That’s something worth remembering as a nation remembers the life of Ronald Reagan this February 2011.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,” “God and Ronald Reagan,” and the newly released “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”