July 01, 1974 12:00 PM

During President Nixon’s Middle East trip, the moment was at once historic and visually arresting. His hands in a characteristic gesture that seemed to mirror the tapestry behind him, Nixon addressed some 320 notables at Israel’s Knesset in Jerusalem. While the event was unique for an American President, the backdrop was equally impressive: a massive rendition of Marc Chagall’s Exodus, which shows Moses and the Israelites. Other such Chagall tapestries gave the Knesset a richly textured setting for President Nixon’s appearance, during which he was toasted with an Israeli-made champagnelike drink, called, appropriately enough, “the president’s wine.” Although Nixon’s speech that night was not uniformly well received (“He’s lecturing us about peace,” one guest hissed), the President’s week-long tour of four Arab countries as well as Israel was a diplomatic tour de force. He was cheered and praised by both Arab and Jew, who rarely agree on anything.

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