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Lyndon Baines° Johnson

JOHNSON, LYNDON BAINES° (1908–1973), 36th president of the United States. As Democratic floor leader, he opposed President Eisenhower's plan for sanctions against Israel after the 1956 Arab-Israel war.

As president, Johnson was extremely effective in pushing through Congress significant and far-reaching liberal measures which were strongly welcomed by Jews and other American minority groups to whom they were of obvious benefit. These "Great Society" programs sought to remove poverty, discrimination, and ignorance, and included important welfare, civil rights, tax reduction, education, and employment legislation. As a result, the customary strong affinity of American Jews for the Democratic Party, especially its liberal wing, continued under the Johnson administration. In the Middle East Johnson proved a friend to Israel. In addition to providing political and economic support, he was instrumental in creating a joint U.S.-Israeli study program for a large water desalinization project to meet Israel's pressing need for more fresh water. In 1966 he met with President Shazar of Israel who was on an unofficial visit to the U.S. At the time of the 1967 Six-Day War, he worked closely with the Soviet Union to prevent a major power confrontation, while at the same time firmly upholding Israel's basic rights. Subsequently he withstood various pressures and continued to uphold Israel's right to have "secure and agreed frontiers" as a precondition to her evacuating territories occupied as a result of the Six-Day War. In 1968 he received the Israel premier Levi *Eshkol. Later that year Johnson announced that he had acceded to Eshkol's request to supply Israel with Phantom jet planes. One of Johnson's close associates was the Texas businessman J. *Novy.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.