Trailed by a noisy gaggle of television cameramen and reporters, U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson today took his "campaign of peace" through the ancient Holy City and into an impoverished West Bank refugee camp. He then prepared to leave Israel, which is in something less than a peaceful state because of his visit.
The media event that some Israeli officials privately said they dreaded as a result of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's official snub of Jackson materialized right on schedule as the Chicago black activist took his message of "shifting sands in the body politic" to Arab Jerusalem and beyond the border that stood before the Six-Day War.
Begin decided to snub Jackson, informed sources said, because of the remarks critical of Israel the civil rights leader made in reaction to the resignation of Andrew Young as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Young quit following his unauthorized meeting with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Jackson kissed Palestinian babies, hugged Palestinian women, smilingly accepted Palestinian gifts and prayed for Palestinian redemption, while chagrined Israeli officials winced at the public relations harvest that came out of the decision to treat Jackson as a non-visitor.
"He knows how to work the streets, that's for sure. Show biz is his biz," said one Begin aide, almost admiringly but not without a trace of discomfort.
Jackson also carried a message that no doubt sounded as ominous to Israeli ears as it sounded encouraging to West Bank refugees: American blacks, who consider themselves refugees of sorts, may be growing impatient with the disparity between U.S. financial aid to Israel and aid to West Bank Arabs.
"Why are three and a half million people in Israel getting $2 billion, while a million Palestinians are getting $50 million?" Jackson asked, the latter figure apparently referring to the U.S. contribution to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency fund (UNRWA).
"There's a certain imbalance in our human commitment," he added.
Striding briskly along a muddy road through the Kalandia refugee camp just south of the West Bank town of Ramallah, Jackson, sweating profusely in a tailored, tan leisure suit, said:
"I identify with their (the refugees) case, when I smell the stench. I know it, we all know it . . All the children, where the top grade of school is nine years, and hand-me-down books."
"These people are not getting enough. America has the economic power to help, but it must use its power for change. We suggest not one human being is worth more than another human being. That's where our national interest comes in," Jackson said.
From beginning to end, the tour was a carefully orchestrated media event, arranged in advance by an American publicist, Hal Sloan, and including all the trappings of an American political campaign -- press bus, schedules and early baggage calls for the traveling media entourage.
Antranig Bakerjian, the Arab director of the U.N. refugee camp, was awakened fully to the political nature of the trip halfway through his translation of remarks volunteered by a camp resident who stopped Jackson and began listing grievances against Israel, in Arabic.
Visibly upset at the turn the tour was taking, Bakerjian said, "We in UNRWA are not in a political organization. We're supported by the world community. I'm sorry, but we cannot get involved in a controversy."
When Jackson's followers shouted for a translation anyway, the refugee was quoted as saying, "I'm a Palestinian. I've been in prison and I've been tortured. I've had two operations. In the name of all people who are in prison, I plead that this be brought to the attention of the world."
His remarks were greeted by applause by Jackson's entourage, as were those of another refugee, who said, "We don't want occupation. Of course, the Palestine Liberation Organization is speaking in our name."
Inside one refugee house, Jackson and his wife posed with a befuddled old man and his equally befuddled grandson and, as cameras clicked and whirred, he offered a prayer:
"We pray for justice in the world. We identify with these brethren and my brothers and sisters. We identify with the underdog, because that is our pedigree."
Since Jesse Jackson is not a household word in Israel, the political controversy surrounding Begin's official snub has received more attention here than Jackson's pronouncements.
Begin, it was disclosed, overrode a recommendation by Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ephraim Evron, that Jackson be given red carpet treatment and granted interviews with top Israeli officials.
Jackson met tonight with opposition labor leader Shimon Peres and objected bitterly to Israel's refusal to meet with the PLO, as well as Begin's refusal to receive the black leader.
He characterized as a "racist decision" the government's willingness to meet with South African political leaders and not with Jackson's entourage.
In an 1 1/2 hour meeting, Peres, former Israel ambassador to the U.S. Simcha Dinitz and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Chaim Herzog heatedly challenged Jackson's remarks and asked that he not repeat them elsewhere in Israel.
Earlier, Begin, in a luncheon address to a "peace and violence" conclave said that "whoever recognizes the so-called PLO recognizes genocide. They (recognize) the aim and the method to destroy a nation . . , to kill men, women and children, and they rejoice in the achievement of these mas murders."
Mordachai Ben-Porat, chairman of the World Association of Jews from Arab Nations, complained in an interview on radio Israel that Jackson had refused to meet with his group because "he didn't want to come to listen and study in Israel, but he came with fixed ideas, and all this trip is for his own sake and not for the Middle East. It's to strengthen his political position in the United States."
Jackson today cancelled a trip to the southern Lebanon border because, he said, his schedule would not allow it.
However, there appeared to be some confusion in the Jackson party about a planned meeting with Christian Phalangist militia leader Saad Haddad, who controls the southern Lebanon enclave supported by Israel.
A Jackson aide said at one point that the group hoped to meet with Haddad at the Allenby Bridge, which crosses the boarder between Israel and Jordan -- not Lebanon.