JERUSALEM (Sep. 26)
Five American Jews, who accompanied the Rev. Jesse Jackson to Israel, quit the group today protesting Jackson’s behavior here. The five were led by Philip Blazer editor of the West Coast Jewish biweekly “Israel Today.”
Although Jackson insisted today that none of the Jews were actually in his delegation, the Jews insisted they were instrumental in organizing the trip and had close ties with Jackson for years. “There is a real feeling of discomfit now in relations with Jackson where there wasn’t before,” Blazer said.
Raymond Mallel, of Los Angeles, an executive member of the World Sephardi Federation said he left the Jackson group because the Black leader “has no interest whatever in the Mideast situation, but solely in exploiting it to advance his own political career in the United States.” The other three Jews were not immediately identified.
Blazer said he had cooperated with Jackson in April 1978, during the anti-Nazi activities in Skokie, 111. But Jackson said he hardly knew Blazer.
Mallel’s explicit interest in the visit was to help arrange a meeting between Jackson and representatives of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WO JAC) “in order that he would hear and meet those expelled by Arab countries and see how Israel has rehabilitated so many refugees despite the state of siege it was in.”
However, Mallel claimed, despite the fact that the meeting with WO JAC reprsentatives had already been set, Jackson did not want to meet them here. Mallel attributed this to “pure lack of interest in Jewish suffering.” Jackson denied this claim. “That is simply not true,” he said.
Mordechai Ben Porat, WO JAC chairman, said in reaction to Jackson’s cancellation of the meeting: “It is obvious that Jackson is not interested in Jews from Arab countries, and that he is insensitive to their suffering. He is riding the PLO bandwagon, hopes it would take him to a political career, and doesn’t care if he runs Jews down in the process.” Yosef Tekoah, president of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, had a similar-reaction yesterday when Jackson also cancelled a visit to the Beersheba school.
RIFT FOLLOWS SERIES OF INCIDENTS
The rift between Jackson and his Jewish friends was the climax of a series of incidents in which Jackson angered public opinion here. Israelis, who originally supported a meeting between Premier Menachem Begin and Jackson, arguing that this could have been an opportunity to reach out for Black public opinion in the U.S., now feel that in the case of Jackson, at least, he had made up his mind before he came here.
Even during a visit to Yad Vashem this morning Jackson made a controversial remark: “Such a Holocaust should not happen to anyone including the Palestinians.” Later after a visit to Nablus Jackson was carried on the shoulders of local citizens, who shouted: “Jackson-Arafat,” and “Arab Palestine.”
Jackson had also changed his plans to meet with Mai. Sood Haddad, leader of the Christian militia in south Lebanon and said instead he will visit south Lebanon under the auspices of the Lebanese government and the PLO. After his arrival Monday he met with Mayor Teddy Kollek and a number of well known Israelis and visited the victims of last week’s terrorist bombing in Jerusalem at the Hadassah University Hospital.
The meeting, arranged by Kollek after Begin and other government officials refused to meet with Jackson featured a tough exchange of views. Jackson said Begin’s refusal to see him was “impolite” and hinted that U.S. support of Israel can no longer be taken for granted. He noted that American Blacks, with 15 million potential voters, were a political force in the U.S. that Israel should not ignore.
“We have heard much about how much Jews have given Blacks,” Jackson said. “We have given much too. We have never resisted sending our tax money to Israel.” He said he would not be intimidated by labels of anti-Semitism if he was critical of Israel, nor was he put off by dealing with terrorists.
In an obvious hint of Begin, Jackson said: “Each of us has the capacity to rise from the disgrace of terrorism to the grace of the Nobel Prize.”He said he would try to convince Yasir Arafat and the PLO leadership that they must abandon terrorism and recognize Israel if they wished to achieve statehood. Jackson and his entourage left today for Jordan, but without the five American Jews.