Former Vice President Joe Biden, by all accounts, has garnered the lion share of African American votes and black endorsement, So, from his perspective, the endorsement of the Rev. Jesse Jackson comes as welcome news for Bernie Sanders. Ironically, Jackson’s support expands the universe of prominent anti-Semitic supporters of the nominally Jewish presidential candidates.
The Hill notes that Jackson said in a statement, “A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path. The most progressive social and economic path gives us the best chance to catch up and Senator Bernie Sanders represents the most progressive path. That’s why I choose to endorse him today.” Jackson also noted that Biden did not ask for his endorsement,
Jackson is one of the oldest civil rights leaders still alive. He was on the balcony in Memphis, Tennessee where Martin Luther King was gunned down by James Earl Ray during that horrible summer of 1968. He ran for president twice, in 1984 and again in 1988. During the first campaign., Jackson made an indiscreet remark to a Washington Post reporter about his true feelings toward Jewish people.
“Rev. Jesse Jackson referred to Jews as Hymies and to New York City as Hymietown in January 1984 during a conversation with a black Washington Post reporter, Milton Coleman. Jackson had assumed the references would not be printed because of his racial bond with Coleman, but several weeks later Coleman permitted the slurs to be included far down in an article by another Post reporter on Jackson’s rocky relations with American Jews.”
Louis Farrakhan, the virulently anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam and, at the time, a Jackson ally made matters worse by threatening Coleman, an African American, and Jews in general with harm. “If you harm this brother [Jackson], it will be the last one you harm.”
Jackson tried to perform some damage control with an emotional speech in front of an audience of Jewish leaders at a New Hampshire synagogue. However, the damage was done, and Jackson’s image was forever tarnished.
Just to show that the Hymies remark, not a one-off indiscretion, in 2008, according to Haaretz, he claimed that the upcoming victory of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama would free the United States from “Zionist control.”
Jackson was repeating an old anti-Semitic trope that Jews secretly control the world, using the term “Zionist” as a code word. Obama, though no great friend of the State of Israel, was said to be incensed at what Jackson had said. He suspected that the aging civil rights leader was trying to sabotage his campaign out of envy. His campaign issued a terse statement. “Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama’s views on Israel and foreign policy.”
Many historians point out that the fall of Jesse Jackson as a political force can be laid at the feet of Barack Obama. Obama, unlike Jackson or his counterpart Al Sharpton, had actually garnered vast political power due to his election as president of the United States. Obama and not Jackson is seen by the African American community and a considerable number of whites as a hero.
Jesse Jackson’s anti-Semitic past has not been an impediment to his welcome by the Bernie Sanders campaign. The Washington Examiner notes that none other than Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, has compared Jackson to her favorite presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.
The Examiner notes that AOC stated in a recent speech, that both Jackson and Sanders had built “a Rainbow coalition of everyday Americans to fight for our common cause.” She also said that their victories in their respective primaries caused “the powerful and monied and conservative parts of our politics” to “scramble.”
AOC, perhaps in an excess of discretion, did not mention that both Jackson and Sanders are opponents of the State of Israel and tend to support the Palestinian side of the conflict, despite their embrace of terrorism.
Despite Jackson’s endorsement, most analysts suggest that a sign of his irrelevance is the fact that most African American voters still support Joe Biden. Biden is remembered fondly as Barack Obama’s friend and partner. While Obama has not yet endorsed Biden or anyone at all for that matter, the singular fact that the aging, white politician was the vice president of the first African American president of the United States moves more votes than anything the aging civil rights leader could ever say.