NEW YORK - Reverend Al Sharpton, one of the leaders of the Black community in New York whose attitude toward the Jewish community has generally been hostile, will today meet Israel's consul-general, Alon Pinkas. This is the first time Sharpton will meet an official Israeli representative.
Some of Sharpton's past remarks have been considered anti-Semitic, damaging his reputation with the Jewish community. The Anti-Defamation League yesterday criticized Pinkas' decision to meet Sharpton.
Pinkas told Ha'aretz: "Without denying that Sharpton is controversial, he has an important position and status in the African-American community. It is my duty to hear what he has to say and whether there is any point in having a dialogue with him."
Sharpton is interested in being invited to visit Israel, Ha'aretz learns. He met secretly two weeks ago with leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Jewish Organizations.
Today's meeting with Pinkas is seen as an attempt by Sharpton to appease the Jewish community. Local Jewish leaders are divided over how to react to Sharpton's moves.
Shortly after the terror attacks on the Twin Towers, Sharpton said that he was "beginning to understand how Israel feels."
At a closed meeting yesterday at Manhattan's Regency Hotel, some 20 Jewish leaders discussed the implications of the war on terror on Israel's relations with the U.S. and Europe. The meeting was hosted by tycoon Larry Tisch.
Among those who attended were former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and billionaire businessman Ron Lauder, former head of the Conference of Presidents.
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