The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. delivered greetings to a top American Jewish Committee staffer.
Wright, the former pastor of presidential contender U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), is on a media blitz countering charges of extremism by Obama’s critics.
Speaking Sunday in Detroit to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Wright suggested that he had a broad base of allies in Chicago, where he is based.
Listing his supporters, he said, “I would also like to thank sister Melanie Maron, the former executive director of the Chicago chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the current executive director of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Jewish Committee. I would like to thank my good friend and Jewish author Tim Wise for his support.”
Maron at the Chicago AJC chapter organized the city’s leg of AJC tours of the United States for up-and-coming European civic and political leaders. The tours were aimed at explaining pluralism, and Maron coordinated visits to Wright’s Trinity United Church. AJC staffers said Wright always made sure visitors had a warm welcome.
Otherwise, AJC spokesmen said, there is no relationship between the AJC and Wright, whose past statements attributing terrorist attacks on America in part to U.S. foreign policy have stirred controversy since Obama became a front-runner in the Democratic race.
Tim Wise is a prominent Louisiana expert on white racism.
In remarks Monday to the National Press Club, Wright denied likening Israel’s policies to apartheid.
“My position on Israel is that Israel has a right to exist; that Israelis have a right to exist, as I said, reconciled one to another,” he said. “Palestinians and Israelis need to sit down and talk to each other and work out a solution where their children can grow in a world together and not be talking about killing each other; that that is not God’s will. So my position is that Israel and the people of Israel be the people of God who are worrying about reconciliation and who are trying to do what God wants for God’s people, which is reconciliation.”