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Walters Puts Jackson on the Spot over His Alleged Ethnic Slurs

The Rev. Jesse Jackson denied that he was anti-Semitic during an exchange with Barbara Walters of ABC-TV on a PBS nationally televised program last Thursday night where he and the other seven Democratic Party presidential hopefuls were being interviewed five days prior to the first primary of the 1984 campaign year.

Asked repeatedly by Walters, the interviewer, if he had ever called New York Jews “Hymies” and New York “Hymietown,” and if he had made the statement, “I am sick and tired of hearing constantly about the Holocaust,” and that “Jews don’t have a monopoly on suffering,” Jackson insisted that he was not anti-Semitic and that he either did not recall making the statements or they were taken out of context.

Asked specifically if he was anti-Semitic, Jackson replied: “I am not anti-Semitic. I have supported Israel’s right to exist. I also support the Palestinians’ right to exist.”

As to his “Hymie” remarks, Jackson said “I have no recollection of that — and furthermore, I have indicated that those who’ve said it, I’ve not seen them make that statement face-to-face.” He also insisted that his statement about the Holocaust was taken out of context. He said the point he was trying to make was that both Blacks and Jews “have known suffering.”

Jackson repeated his charge that “certain members” of the Jewish community — whom he has never identified — have been “hounding” his campaign. He said it was “unfortunate” that “there is this continuous struggle, as it were, between Black leadership and Jewish leadership …. I expect to meet with some leaders and presidents of some Jewish organizations very soon.”

Jackson’s statements have created widespread tension between him and the Jewish community and there have been denunciations of his attitude toward Israel and his uncritical acceptance of PLO chief Yasir Arafat. During the television interview here, Walters asked him if the statements he made and attributed to him “might be interpreted as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.” But Jackson failed to respond directly.

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