Reconsidering Jesse Jackson’s Words Regarding Obama and Israel

Rereading Amir Taheri’s interview of Jesse Jackson that ran in Tuesday’s New York Post, I realize I may have fallen into a trap.

Yesterday I noted here on my blog that, while Jackson is not an official spokesperson for the Obama campaign, his speculation concerning Senator Obama’s plans for U.S. foreign policy and towards Israel in particular were very alarming.

I still think Senator Obama’s previous statements (including this one to delegates of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at a dessert reception at its 2007 Policy Conference,) are, and should be, troubling to anyone who defends human rights and decries the absolute evil that is terrorism.

And some of Senator Obama’s statements, including that he would, as President, meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions, reflect a naïve, dangerous failure to grasp the extent of terrorism’s evil.

(The reasons such a naïve idea potentially threatens human rights, religious pluralism, free speech, and democracy is the subject of another post to come).

But something about Jackson’s comments to Amir Taheri seemed a little off, and after conversing with one of my sharpest readers, I realized what it was.

After reading my last post, this reader asked me, “But didn’t Jesse Jackson say that disgusting thing about Barack Obama recently?”

Then I remembered: not long ago, Jesse Jackson made a statement about Barack Obama so ugly I will not restate it but will link to it here.

At the time I was shocked by Jackson’s statement, and I tried to imagine what could possibly have engendered such viciousness. It seemed to me a combination of meanness and extreme, uncontrollable jealousy.

Today it occurred to me that Jesse Jackson, like Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is probably trying to sabotage Barack Obama’s candidacy.

Think about it: given the justified concerns of some Jewish voters towards Barack Obama regarding Israel, why would a “friend” and “supporter” of Obama’s give an interview in which he makes statements sure to stoke those concerns such as, if Barack Obama is elected “decades of putting Israel’s interests first would end”?

(In reality, of course, Israel’s interests must be prioritized because Israelis are, in the big picture, not only America’s strongest democratic mid-east allies but also the victims of prejudice on the part of neighboring Arab nations that have numerous times tried to destroy Israel. Not to mention that no foreign policy could be “balanced” that ascribes moral equivalence to Israeli leaders and soldiers who do all they can to avoid hurting civilians and Palestinian leaders and terrorists who specifically target civilians.)

But the immediate point is, Jesse Jackson seems to be stoking pro-Israel voters’ concerns. Even if the views he expressed accurately reflect Obama’s positions (and personally I believe they may, at least to some extent), why would Jackson have said such things in an interview with a columnist for the New York Post, a newspaper with a pro-Israel sensibility?

It reminds me of Jeremiah Wright’s increasingly bombastic and menacing words, including a warning to Obama, “If you get elected November the fifth I’m coming after you” at the National Press Club even after video brought to embarrassing light Wright’s vitriolic “G.D. America” speech.

Wright and Jackson, two self-serving media addicts, seem to be trying their best to sabotage Obama, and I’m increasingly disinclined to hold against Obama anything they might say.

But that doesn’t mean anyone who cares about the U.S., Israel, and human rights shouldn’t be deeply concerned about the prospect of electing Barack Obama given numerous statements Obama himself has made, his longtime close friendship with an America-hater like Wright (whose church honored Louis Farrakhan), and his history of cooperation with unrepentant former terrorist William Ayers.

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