New York City Mayor Edward Koch issued a flurry of apologies to blacks Tuesday for getting “carried away” in his criticism of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
At a breakfast meeting in Washington, in a statement issued upon his return to New York Times, Koch defended the substance of his attacks on the Democratic presidential candidate, but said that he underestimated the black community’s emotional tie to Jackson.
Koch, who is Jewish, criticized Jackson repeatedly during the New York primary campaign, saying at one point that Jews and other supporters of Israel would be “crazy” to vote for Jackson based on his Mideast views.
The remarks sparked racial tensions and led to widespread discussion among black and white voters of a “Stop Koch” movement prior to next year’s mayoral race.
At the Tuesday breakfast meeting, Koch said he would try to make amends with the black community.
“I am sorry that I injured their feelings and I will redress that as best I can, not just with words, but with programs” dealing with health and housing problems, he said.
In his letter to the Times, Koch wrote, “If I was carried away in my language and the repetition of my attacks, it was because of what I perceived to be a danger at hand.”
Koch’s statements during the primary campaign and his support of Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.) seemed to have backfired. Network television polls indicated that 62 percent of the Democrats surveyed opposed a fourth term for the flamboyant mayor.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.