Jesse Jackson: Tea With Terrorists

Jesse Jackson had a close call last week, narrowly missing being publicly exposed as a staunch friend to terrorists and anti-Semites, and having what’s left of his career forever ruined. As it was, only a few newspapers reported that Mr. Jackson was en route to a meeting with Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the terrorist organization Hamas, when a bomb planted by Hamas exploded in the cafeteria of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and killed seven people, five of whom were Americans, including a New Yorker named Janis Ruth Coulter. When Hamas immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, Mr. Jackson quickly turned his plane around and sped to Jerusalem to pay a hospital visit to some of those who survived the attack. One wonders if he told the victims that he had been on his way to break bread with the man who had just tried to murder them.

Just before embarking for his visit with the Hamas, Mr. Jackson- apparently on some sort of grand tour of terrorist tyrants-had made a public appearance with Yasir Arafat. The publicity-hungry reverend knows that the world’s eyes are turned to the Middle East, and that he stands a good chance of getting some TV time by showing up there. Tarnished by scandal and virtually irrelevant in the U.S., he has to travel abroad to find an audience or a problem in which he can meddle. Mr. Jackson has nothing to offer but empty words and rhymes, and there is no situation that he cannot make worse, simply by diverting journalists from the hard job of reporting what’s going on in the region. The idea that he is a statesman or impartial observer is a joke; that he was prepared to dignify the Hamas leader with a visit shows that he himself is bereft of dignity and lacks even the most cursory compassion for the scores of people murdered by Hamas and its partners in mayhem.

Unfortunately, none of the above comes as much of a surprise. Mr. Jackson has long been merely a parody of a civil-rights leader-brazenly putting his mistress on the payroll; coaxing then-President Bill Clinton into pardoning Dorothy Rivers, a woman who stole $1.5 million of taxpayer money intended for poor people and mentally handicapped children; spending over a million dollars annually of his organization’s money to fly himself around the world, so that he can feed his ego and fatten his wallet. Perhaps someone should remind Mr. Jackson that when Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he donated the entire $54,000 in prize money to the civil-rights movement.

Hamas followed its cowardly attack on the college cafeteria by blowing up an Israeli commuter bus in Galilee, killing nine people and wounding 45. A Hamas spokesman said they wouldn’t stop until “we kill 100 Jews.” Presumably, Mr. Jackson will have moral reservations about rescheduling his powwow with Sheik Yassin. But don’t bet on it.

Mayor Curbs Diplomats

You cannot be Mayor of New York, it seems, without announcing a campaign to crack down on serial scofflaws who traipse around town in cars bearing diplomatic plates-a shield, they think, from prosecution. More than 100 countries have consulates in New York, and their personnel have a tradition of ignoring the traffic and parking regulations that apply to everyone else. They get tickets, they laugh, they rip up the tickets and claim diplomatic immunity. And the Mayor of the moment fumes.

Michael Bloomberg seems intent on changing that scenario, and that’s good news. He has warned the diplomatic community that illegally parked cars with diplomatic plates will be towed away beginning Aug. 9 if their owners owe outstanding fines.

It’s about time. Until Mr. Bloomberg’s aggressive posture, Mayors have looked helpless as they shook their fists against these overprivileged visitors and their contempt for local laws and regulations. Various Mayors have promised crackdowns, but have been able to deliver very little for their efforts.

Mr. Bloomberg, however, has decided to confront these scofflaws with that most potent of weapons: the tow truck. This decision was announced after City Hall tried peaceful negotiations to extract the millions of dollars in fines the international community owes New York-one consulate alone owes over $2 million. The effort was in vain. And so the Mayor declared war.

Mr. Bloomberg rightly noted that money isn’t the only issue at stake. Cars with consular plates routinely block emergency-access lanes, meaning that the diplomats put us all in danger when they disregard the laws and regulations of this city they call home, at least temporarily. Our streets are too crowded, too economically important and too valuable to be parking lots for foreigners. “Everybody should follow the rules,” the Mayor said.

Good for him, and good for us. And beginning on Aug. 9, the world’s diplomats may get a look at parts of the city they never knew existed-the auto pounds on the West Side.

The Marriage Pill: Niagra

A good marriage may not only be good for your head, but also for your heart-literally. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan has found that marital contentment influences the heart’s ability to cope with heart disease. As reported in the Harvard Heart Letter , couples in which one partner had a serious heart problem were asked about the state of their marriage; four years later, 54 percent of those with good marriages were still alive, compared with 42 percent of those with less happy unions. Among those with mild heart disease and agreeable marriages, 78 percent were alive four years later. As the Harvard newsletter wrote, “What’s happening at home may be just as important as blood pressure.”

One imagines that further research may reveal that wedded bliss has a similar affect on other potentially fatal conditions. Who knew the famous fairy-tale phrase “and they lived happily ever after” was actually a medical diagnosis?

If the drug companies could make a pill for a happy marriage, they’d probably call it Niagra.