Jackson urges blacks and Jews to fight hatred

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BRUSSELS - The Rev Jesse Jackson, the black American civil rights leader, told an international conference on racism and anti- Semitism that Zionism was a liberation movement and that blacks and Jews should work together to fight hatred. Jewish leaders gathered for the conference yesterday welcomed Mr Jackson's speech and said it would help mend relations between blacks and Jews, which Mr Jackson has damaged in the past.

'Zionism by its soundest definition (is) a liberation movement whose object is to secure a state for its people,' Mr Jackson told the World Jewish Congress conference. 'It must be seen as that, and not with negative connotations attached to it . . . Any veiled threats of driving Jews into the sea, or driving Palestinians from the land must stop.'

Mr Jackson described the election victory of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Labour party leader, as 'a breath of fresh air for peace and security for Israel'.

Isi Leibler, the Australian co- chairman of the governing board of the Congress, which is based in New York, hailed Mr Jackson's speech, saying it will build bridges between the world's black and Jewish communities. Relations between the two groups were poisoned by anti-Semitic remarks Mr Jackson made during his campaign in 1984 for the Democratic presidential nomination. Mr Jackson has apologised for calling Jews 'hymies'.

'Sometimes, each of us has recognised within ourselves elements of the extreme, that take us out of the bounds of common human endeavour and the possibility of coalition,' Mr Jackson said. 'We must defend against the extremism within ourselves.'

Mr Jackson underlined the common history blacks and Jews share and added: 'We are not starting from point zero - we have a history on which to build.' Mr Leibler said: 'We are overjoyed to recall that coalition. That coalition exists right now.'

The Congress was set up in 1936 to fight Hitler's persecution of the Jews. It called the special conference in response to a perceived resurgence of racism and anti-semitism worldwide. 'We can encourage the process of recognition of the historic evil of anti- Semitism, to ensure that it is not built into the psychological and political foundations of the new Europe,' Mr Jackson said.