WASHINGTON (Aug. 8)
Israeli Ambassador Moshe Arad made it clear to the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Sunday that neither Jackson nor any other individual could be an intermediary in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Arad politely rejected such a role for Jackson when, during a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at the envoy’s home, Jackson mentioned several times the close contacts he had with Palestinians and some Arab leaders, an Israeli source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Negotiations must be carried out by the parties involved, with the help of the U.S. government, Arad told Jackson.
At a news conference after the meeting, Jackson seemed to go along with this view, saying that negotiations should “basically be government-to-government contacts.” But he also noted that “whether government or non-government, we must improve the climate.”
The meeting, which Jackson requested and told Arad “was overdue,” covered a wide range of issues, from the current tensions between blacks and Jews in the United States to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Israeli source termed the meeting “very cordial” and “very positive.”
The meeting was seen as part of Jackson’s effort to repair relations with the Jewish community, where there was concern about his presidential campaign and about what influence he may have if Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis is elected president.
Jackson stressed that he was not acting on behalf of the Democratic presidential candidate, but met with the Israeli envoy as part of “my ongoing effort to seek peace in the world.”
FOCUS ON ZIONISM. ANTI-SEMITISM
Arad gave Jackson a detailed description of the Arab-Israeli conflict, stressing the Arab refusal to negotiate with the Jewish state and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s rejection of Israel’s existence.
The ambassador also discussed the 1975 United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism, and explained what Zionism means to the Jewish people.
Arad opened the meeting by raising concerns about new expressions of anti-Semitism in some quarters of the black community. He specifically mentioned tensions in Chicago, where some black leaders made openly anti-Semitic remarks after an aide to Mayor Eugene Sawyer was dismissed for making viciously anti-Semitic remarks.
Arad said that leaders like Jackson, who lives in Chicago, should raise their voices against anti-Semitism.
But, according to the source, Arad made clear that he was speaking as a concerned Jew and that the issue should be discussed by black leaders with the leaders of the organized Jewish community in the United States.
During the New York primary campaign, Jackson turned down several invitations to meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations and with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
Jackson seemed to be still avoiding this type of meeting, since he said his meeting with Arad was an effort to establish “some kind of conduit for communications” between blacks and Jews.
Jackson described to Arad the close relations that existed between blacks and Jews in the civil rights struggle. He also noted that both Moses and King Solomon had black wives and that some of the first American soldiers who liberated Nazi concentration camps in World War II were blacks, the source said.
NEED TO ‘TALK WITH EACH OTHER’
At his news conference, Jackson also stressed it was important for Jews and blacks to “talk with each other and not about each other.”
He said the significance of his meeting with Arad “was just to get some sense of human touch, some sense of feeling, some sense of sharing, some commitment for ongoing dialogue, some commitment to remove barriers, some ability to agree to agree, or agree to disagree.”
But when he was asked about the Chicago situation, Jackson replied: “It’s not just Chicago and an aide to the mayor. It’s the mayor of New York himself saying that any Jew who would vote for me ‘would be crazy.’
“That statement traumatized many people, it hurt many people,” he said. “Yet we will not surrender to that level of politics and public discourse.”
New York City Mayor Edward Koch, who has been heavily criticized for his remarks about Jackson during the New York primary, actually said that Jews and other supporters of Israel would be crazy to vote for Jackson, because of his support of a Palestinian state.
Jackson and Koch have agreed to a request from New York Gov. Mario Cuomo that they meet to soothe over their differences. The meeting has not yet been scheduled.
Jackson and Arad also discussed Israel’s relations with South Africa and the situation of the Black Hebrews in Israel.
Jackson was accompanied by his son, Jonathan; Rep. Mervyn Dymally (D-Calif.); Percy Sutton of New York, who had been a leader in his presidential campaign; and two American Jews, R. Peter Strauss of New York and Ed Elson of Atlanta.