Jesse and the Jews


THIS IS what we know:

*January 25: Sitting in a snack bar at Washington's National Airport, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson uses the word "hymie" and the word "hymietown" to refer respectively to Jews and New York City. Jackson says he made the remarks in private and was "overheard" by reporters. Others say Jackson made the remarks while bantering with Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman and one other journalist, possibly from The New York Times.

*February 13: The Post's Rick Atkinson publishes Jackson's remarks in that day's paper, with Coleman given reportorial credit at the end of the article.

*February 19: Jackson tells Lesley Stahl on CBS News' Face the Nation he did not make the remarks. "It simply is not true, and I think that the accuser ought to come forth," Jackson says.

*February 19: Jackson calls Benjamin C. Bradlee, executive editor of The Post, and sets up a meeting with Post reporters and editors two days later to discuss the publication of the remarks, according to The Boston Globe.

*February 21: During Jackson's meeting with The Post, The Globe reports, the Presidential candidate says he has "no recollection" of having said either "hymie" or "hymietown." When told CBS's Stahl is Jewish, Jackson reportedly says. "She doesn't look like she's Jewish. She doesn't sound like she's Jewish." Jackson also reportedly asks Bradlee. "Do you know that Freeman Gosden was Jewish?" referring to one of the creators of the largely racist mid-century radio show, Amos and Andy.

*February 23: At a nationally televised debate between all eight Democratic contenders at New Hampshire's St. Anselm's College, moderator Barbara Walters confronts Jackson about the remarks, telling him he has the chance to clear the air. A nervous Jackson again says he has "no recollection," repeating three times within one minute, "I am not anti-Semitic."

*February 24: Jackson tells reporters, "I won't deny, nor on any level admit it," adding that what he just said "constitutes a denial." Jackson complains about "media fascination" with remarks made a month ago.

*February 25: Jackson flies to Chicago to attend a Nation of Islam meeting. Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, referring to the "hymie" incident, warns Jackson's opponents. "If you harm this brother, I warn you in the name of Allah, this will be the last one you harm."

*February 26: A month and a day after his Washington Airport conversation, Jackson tells a packed Manchester synagogue, "Press reports were circulating brewing up a storm about the word 'hymie.'"

"I was deeply disturbed. I watched as the words spread into paragraphs and then into chapters," he adds. "I was shocked and astonished as the press' interest in this ethnic characterization made in private conversation but apparently overheard by a reporter."

Asking to be forgiven and "accepted in the Lord's house," Jackson goes on the offensive, accusing some Jewish groups of staging an "organized effort to destroy this campaign."

Jackson cites a history of racially motivated insults directed his way, including his daughter's admissions interview for Harvard three years ago. In a Crimson interview. Jackson charges Chicago attorney Stephen B. Cohen '61 with "harassment" of Santita Jackson because of her father's 1979 meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yassir Arafat.

*February 27: Jackson defends Farrakhan's remarks in Chicago, telling The Times, "Jews went to the chambers silently. They should have gone fighting if they had to go at all."

FOR TWO WEEKS Jackson, the self-proclaimed "moral conscience" of the Democratic Party, engaged in double talk and even lied about having made a racial slur against Jews. In the process, Jackson turned what should have been an irrelevant incident into a full scale rhetorical war between America's Blacks and Jews.

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