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Jackson Passes Up Meeting With Jewish Leaders

April 9, 1988

WADING RIVER, N.Y. (AP) _ Jesse Jackson won’t be taking time from his busy campaign schedule to meet Jewish leaders because he has already explained his controversial statements on Jews and Israel, his campaign manager says.

″He has answered the same questions over and over again,″ said Gerald Austin, explaining Friday why the campaign had decided not to meet with the Jewish Community Relations Council, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations.

Austin spoke to reporters outside a Long Island fund-raiser at the Wading River home of Marty Bergman, a CBS television producer.

Austin said he had counted 48 communities in and around New York City that are bigger than Des Moines, Iowa, where the presidential candidates spent weeks campaigning. ″You need to spend time in these places,″ he said.

That kind of campaigning doesn’t leave time for what Austin considers the unproductive meeting to again answer qustions about Jackson’s use of the offensive term ″Hymietown″ to describe New York in his 1984 campaign, and his past association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The incidents left many Jewish voters with the feeling that Jackson might be anti-Semitic, and they also do not like his views on the issue of a Palestinian homeland.

Austin made the comments even as Jackson appeared to be subtly reaching out to the large numbers of Jewish voters as he campaigned vigorously across New York and Long Island seeking votes for the state’s April 19 primary.

On different occasions he mentioned anti-Semitism along with racism as reprehensible attitudes.

At the landmark Sardi’s restaurant in Manhattan’s theater district, Jackson told a labor leaders’ breakfast that in the pre-civil rights South, ″It was commonplace to see signs that said ’blacks and Jews and dogs are not welcome.‴

He mentioned three white civil rights workers who were shot in the early 1960s in Mississippi, and noted two of them were Jewish.

Asked by reporters about Jewish resistance to him, Jackson said: ″We continue to build relationships. We continue to heal relationships. Ours is an inclusive outreach campaign.″

Additionally, he said Jews are among many minority and ethnic groups he has involved in his campaign and added: ″Our commitment is to end any vestiges of racism, of anti-Semitism, or sexism. ... We’ve sent a message no one can miss.″

At a senior citizens forum at Adelphi University in Garden City, an audience member asked him to comment on U.S. apathy in early World War II while Hitler was beginning his Jewish extermination campaign.

″We did abandon many Jewish people to Hitler’s hell. It was a tragic mistake,″ Jackson said.

″We should forever accept a shared responsibility. We must assure it will never be allowed to happen again.″

Jackson then said the United States must fight for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate, and for the right of Israel to exist as a secure state.

At the Wading River fund-raiser, Jackson spoke in opposition to the nearby Shoreham nuclear plant, which is awaiting a full-power operating license. He said nuclear power is too expensive and unsafe, and he endorsed alternative forms of energy.

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