WASHINGTON Two prominent political bugbears whose very mention drives the other side into foaming denunciations Rev. Jesse Jackson and Amir Taheri collided last week.
Jackson was quoted by Taheri as saying that Zionists would lose their influence under an Obama administration.
Jackson said that Taheri seriously distorted his views.
The Obama campaign said that Jackson is not an adviser to Obama and is in no position to interpret or share Obamas views on Israel or foreign policy.
Republicans used Jacksons remarks, as reported by Taheri, against Obama (D-Ill.).
A mainstream Jewish organization, the American Jewish Committee, blasted Jesse Jackson as echoing classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Taheris report in the Oct. 14 New York Post said that Jackson told the first World Policy Forum last week in Evian, France, that Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades would lose influence under Obama.
According to Taheri, Jackson told the forum that Obama promised fundamental changes in US foreign policy, and said the most important changes would take place in the Middle East, where a President Obama would end decades of putting Israels interests first.
Taheri wrote that Jackson said that if the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not resolved, the Middle East will remain a source of danger to us all.
Barack is determined to repair our relations with the world of Islam and Muslims, Taheri quoted Jackson as saying.
Thanks to his background and ecumenical approach, he knows how Muslims feel while remaining committed to his own faith.
Jackson labeled the article a distortion.
The recent column in the New York Post by Amir Taheri in no way represents my views on Middle East peace and security, Jackson said in a statement released Oct. 15 by his Rainbow Push coalition.
The writer is selectively imposing his own point of view, and distorting mine.
I have a long-held position of a two-state solution to achieve peace in the Middle East.
I stand forthrightly for the security and stability of Israel, its protection from any form of hostility, and a peaceful, non-violent resolution to co-existing with its Palestinian neighbors.
Jackson also accused Taheri of seeking to incite fear and division.
Sources close to Jackson said some of the quotes in Taheris article were fabricated Jackson never used the term Zionists, for instance, they said.
It was unclear whether Taheri claimed to be in the room when Jackson made his remarks, or whether others had reported the remarks to the writer.
Some of Taheris writings on his native Iran have been debunked by experts as based on fabrications and distortions.
Canadas National Post apologized for his 2006 report that Iranian leaders planned to force Jews to wear a yellow insignia after the claim proved unfounded.
More recently, Taheri reported that Obama had tried secretly to persuade Iraqi leaders to stall the withdrawal of US troops in order to prevent the White House from earning a success.
Obamas campaign and the White House both denied the substance of the report. The Democratic camp accused Taheri of being in the pocket of the campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the GOP candidate.
Jesse Jackson confirmed the Jewish communities long-standing concerns with Barack Obamas policies on Israel and the Middle East, the Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement.
Rev. Jacksons remarks, which appeared in an interview with the journalist Amir Taheri in todays New York Post, echo classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish power, AJC Executive Director David Harris said in a statement.
McCains Florida campaign organized a conference call last week.
Hes had a close relationship with Obama, said Ellyn Bogdanoff, a state representative. Adam Hasner, the majority leader in the Florida House, added:
This is consistent in our message that Senator Obama does not have a record that can give Jewish voters comfort.
Obama has taken pains to distance himself from African-American leaders with controversial, confrontational pasts. Jackson earned notoriety in the Jewish community during his 1984 campaign for referring to New York as Hymietown, but since has made amends with some Jewish leaders.
Jake Tapper of ABC noted that the alleged remarks reported in the Post were recorded by a columnist the Obama campaign considers hostile in a tabloid newspaper it considers biased against them from an interview with a man last publicly seen threatening to castrate Senator Obama.
In July, Jackson was outraged enough at an Obama speech calling on young black men to assume greater family responsibilities that he threatened to cut his nuts off.
That led Jacksons son, a US congressman and a co-chairman of the Obama campaign, to openly denounce his father.
The statement from the Rainbow Push coalition said that Reverend Jackson is not a representative of Senator Obama. He has never had a conversation with Senator Obama about Israel or the Middle East, and was not characterizing Senator Obamas views on these issues.
Jackson, a presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988, told Taheri that he was not an Obama adviser, but called himself a supporter and a neighbor. He also called Obama a member of the family.
The Obama campaign responded to the remarks.
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obamas views on Israel and foreign policy, Obama national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said in a statement.
As he has made clear throughout his career and throughout this campaign, Barack Obama has a fundamental commitment to a strong US-Israel relationship, and he is advised by people like Dennis Ross, Daniel Kurtzer, Rep. Robert Wexler, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Senator Joe Biden who share that commitment, Morigi said.
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 Irans illicit nuclear program.
No false charges can change Barack Obamas unshakeable commitment to Israels security.