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Jackson Says Blacks and Jews Share ‘Experience of Oppression’ and Should Pursue Common Agenda of Change

April 20, 1987
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Blacks and Jews share the “experience of oppression” and should pursue a common agenda of change, including support for affirmative action, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told delegates of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on the final day of their conference here a week ago.

“We know that, on the floor of Congress and in the voting booth, Jews and Blacks vote very much alike. In Congress, Black members and Jewish members work closely together, fighting for economic opportunity, for urban aid — and for an end to apartheid in South Africa. In polling places and in public opinion booths, Blacks and Jews demonstrate similar commitment to the values of social justice, civil rights and human dignity.”

Jackson, who is expected to run for President in 1988, named affirmative action as one of the issues on the common agenda. He said that although affirmative action had been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, the Reagan Administration “continues to wage war against it.”


Jackson’s address was on domestic issues, but he was questioned on his views about Israel. On the issue of Israel breaking American sanctions against selling arms to South Africa, Jackson said “the blood of South Africans is on the hands of those who sell arms. Israel must choose whether it will relate to the United States or to South Africa.”

Jackson also said he supported an international conference for peace in the Middle East that would include “all the players,” adding: “If we search for reasons not to relate, we will find them. If we search for reasons to relate, we will find them.”

He sidestepped a question about his link to Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan whose sermons are filled with anti-Semitic rhetoric. “We’re making a mistake to make one person the center of the agenda. There are weighty issues of jobs, peace and justice. I hope we’ll put them in their proper perspective,” he said.

Jackson himself was under heavy fire from the American Jewish community during the 1984 Presidential campaign when, while running for the Democratic Party nomination, he referred to Jews as “Hymies” and to New York City as “Hymie-town.” He subsequently apologized for both slurs.

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