Barack Obama's campaign on Wednesday dismissed the Rev. Jesse Jackson's assertion that as president, the Democratic candidate would rid the United States of years of "Zionist" control.
The New York Post quoted the veteran civil rights leader on Tuesday as having said that although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they will lose much of their clout when Obama enters the White House.
In response, Obama campaign national security spokesperson Wendy Morigi said: "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."
Morigi stressed Obama's commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. She also said that commitment was shared by the candidate's advisors, who she listed as Dennis Ross, Daniel Kurtzer, Rep. Robert Wexler, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Senator Joe Biden.
"As President, he will ensure that Israel can defend itself from every threat it faces, stand with Israel in its quest for a secure peace with its neighbors, and use all elements of American power to end Iran's illicit nuclear program," she added.
"No false charges can change Barack Obama's unshakeable commitment to Israel's security."
Speaking at the first World Policy Forum event in Evian, France, the daily quoted Jackson as promising "fundamental changes" in U.S. foreign policy. He said the most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end.
Jackson said that Obama "wants an aggressive and dynamic diplomacy." He went on to criticize the Bush administration's handling of Middle East diplomacy, telling the Post, "Bush was so afraid of a snafu and of upsetting Israel that he gave the whole thing a miss. Barack will change that," because, as long as the Palestinians haven't seen justice, the Middle East will "remain a source of danger to us all."
Jackson has not always been such a strong Obama supporter. In July, he apologized to the Illinois senator for "crude and hurtful" remarks he had made about him after an interview with a Fox News correspondent.
Speaking to a fellow interviewee without realizing his microphone was on, Jackson said, "See, Barack's been talking down to black people.... I want to cut his nuts off."
"It was very private," Jackson said, adding that if "any hurt or harm has been caused to [Obama's] campaign, I apologize."
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