By Amir Teheri
The New York Post
PREPARE for a new America: That’s the message that the Rev. Jesse Jackson conveyed to participants in the first World Policy Forum, held at this French lakeside resort last week.
He promised “fundamental changes” in US foreign policy – saying America must “heal wounds” it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the “arrogance of the Bush administration.”
The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end.
Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.
“Obama is about change,” Jackson told me in a wide-ranging conversation. “And the change that Obama promises is not limited to what we do in America itself. It is a change of the way America looks at the world and its place in it.”
Jackson warns that he isn’t an Obama confidant or adviser, “just a supporter.” But he adds that Obama has been “a neighbor or, better still, a member of the family.” Jackson’s son has been a close friend of Obama for years, and Jackson’s daughter went to school with Obama’s wife Michelle.
“We helped him start his career,” says Jackson. “And then we were always there to help him move ahead. He is the continuation of our struggle for justice not only for the black people but also for all those who have been wronged.”
Will Obama’s election close the chapter of black grievances linked to memories of slavery? The reverend takes a deep breath and waits a long time before responding.
“No, that chapter won’t be closed,” he says. “However, Obama’s victory will be a huge step in the direction we have wanted America to take for decades.”
Jackson rejects any suggestion that Obama was influenced by Marxist ideas in his youth. “I see no evidence of that,” he says. “Obama’s thirst for justice and equality is rooted in his black culture.”
But is Obama – who’s not a descendant of slaves – truly a typical American black?
Jackson emphatically answers yes: “You don’t need to be a descendant of slaves to experience the oppression, the suffocating injustice and the ugly racism that exists in our society,” he says. “Obama experienced the same environment as all American blacks did. It was nonsense to suggest that he was somehow not black enough to feel the pain.”