Cong. Jesse Jackson Deserves a Chance

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Cong. Jesse Jackson Deserves a Chance
By RAY HANANIA • Friday, August 10, 2012
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper,

I like Cong. Jesse Jackson Jr.

What impresses me is his ability to reach out beyond political rivalries for the benefit of the community to make amends with political enemies as he did at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Cong. Jackson is unlike the rest of his family who have lived off the exploitation of famous events, both tragic and welcome.

His father, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, is more popular the further away you get from Chicago, for a reason. His brothers are political insiders who have benefited from clout.

Rev. Jackson has an abrasive political style that demands forgiveness from others but levels grudges against his foes. Despite rhythmic rhetoric, the Rev. Jackson’s actions have been crude.

I know. I was there in 1976 when he told Palestinian leaders in Chicago that he would only champion their cause if they raised $100,000 for him.

It’s something he could have done anyway, because it was the right thing to do. But that wasn’t enough. It’s something many leaders don’t get. Good leadership is good politics.

That explains the tough edge the Jackson family has. African Americans have been criminally mistreated in this country, even after slavery and segregation were officially abolished.

It’s a huge chip to carry if you are black.

Cong. Jackson must also live with judgments about his father and clout-connected brothers that unfairly hang over his head.

No one complained when white U.S. Senator Mark Kirk suffered a stroke and many months later remains incapable of performing his day-to-day Senate duties.

Kirk did find time, though, to push through from his hospital bed a resolution redefining Palestinian refugees as those who are still alive while excluding their descendants. When Israel was created, there were 700,000 refugees. Today, after 64 years, there are more than 4 million, most still wanting to return to their lands and homes.

Kirk is the single largest congressional recipient of pro-Israel money in Illinois, so not even a stroke can jeopardize that. The media doesn’t care about that. But they and the public are jumping over Cong. Jackson because he didn’t give a satisfactory explanation for his mysterious illness.

Believe me when I tell you that had Kirk not suffered a stroke and been absent from government, the calls for Jackson’s resignation would be deafening.

The desire to slander the Jackson family is overwhelming for many because they are black, and because of their liberal politics controversies. It is expected Cong. Jackson would be criticized, with some demanding he resign.

It’s unfair. The only people Cong. Jackson must answer to are the citizens of his congressional district. There is no reason to believe they will replace him anytime soon.

The anger swelled in the wake of rumors — not facts, just rumors — that Jackson is under federal investigation because the man who helped him raise funds, Raghuveer Nayak, (who is Indian, not Arab, by the way), has been charged with bribery. Nayak allegedly promised to raise $1 million for disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for Blagojevich naming Cong. Jackson to fill the senate vacancy created when Barack Obama was sworn-in as president in January 2009.

Cong. Jackson deserves time — his own time — to sort through his personal health issues, the same way Kirk and others do, too.

The difference is Cong. Jackson is a good man. He’s a good politician. We should be encouraging and cheering for someone like him, not dancing around the bonfires of Chicago’s political hypocrisies.

(Listen to Ray Hanania on radio every Sunday at 8 a.m. on 1240 AM and 1470 AM radio. Readers can also check — City & Suburban News-Herald

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is

Email him at:

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania