The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that his views were distorted in an article that quoted him as saying “Zionists” would lose their influence under an Obama administration.
A report in Tuesday’s New York Post by Amir Taheri, a writer who has in the past been charged with making exaggerated claims, said Jackson told the first World Policy Forum last week in Evian, France, that “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” would lose influence under Obama.
According Taheri, Jackson told the forum that Obama promised “fundamental changes” in United States foreign policy, and said that the most important changes would take place in the Middle East where a President Obama would end “decades of putting Israel’s interests first.”
“The recent column in the New York Post by Amir Taheri in no way represents my views on Middle East peace and security,” Jackson said in a statement released by his Rainbow Push coalition.
“The writer is selectively imposing his own point of view, and distorting mine.I have a long held position of a two state solution to achieve peace in the Middle East. I stand forthrightly for the security and stability of Israel, its protection from any form of hostility, and a peaceful, non-violent resolution to co-existing with its Palestinian neighbors.”
Sources close to Jackson said some of the quotes in Taheri’s article were fabricated – Jackson never used the term “Zionists,” for instance, they said.
It was not clear if Taheri claimed to be in the room when Jackson made his remarks, or if others had reported the remarks to Taheri.
Taheri has a controversial past. Some of his writings on his native Iran have been debunked by experts as based on fabrications and distortions. Canada’s National Post apologized for his 2006 report that Iran’s leaders planned to force Jews to wear yellow insignia after the claim was proved unfounded.
Obama, the U.S. senator from Illinois and this year’s Democratic candidate for U.S. president, has had acrid clashes with Jackson during the campaign over policy, although Jackson’s son, a U.S. congressman, is a campaign co-chairman.
Both Jackson’s office and the Obama camp stressed in separate statements that Jackson is not associated with the Democratic nominee’s campaign and does not advise him on any issues, including Israel. “Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama’s views on Israel and foreign policy,” Obama national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said in a statement.