CHICAGO–Sixteen years ago in defense of Rev. Jesse Jackson, the sum of the relationship between Minister Louis Farrakhan and some members of the Jewish community equaled a grave misunderstanding that those Jews have wielded from then until now like a weapon to multiply a negative press campaign against the Minister. All that ended Feb. 24-27 when rabbis of the Neturei Karta Orthodox Jewish community divided themselves from that effort.
In an historic Feb. 28 announcement, the rabbis told the world of their support for Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam during a press conference after the Saviours’ Day weekend celebration.
“We’ve had hours and hours of conversations with Minister Farrakhan, ” said Rabbi David Weiss, “Minister Farrakhan is a strong-willed person. The Jews misconstrued his statements. They (Zionists) changed Judaism with their new style. This is Zionism. Judaism is not like this.”
Rabbi Weiss led a delegation of rabbis that were invited to Saviours’ Day by Min. Farrakhan as part of their ongoing dialogue and reconciliation. The rabbis spoke throughout the weekend and addressed the capacity crowd at the United Center on Feb. 27.
“Zionism is a transformation from godliness to materialism,” explained Rabbi Weiss. “Know the difference between Zionism and Judaism. We are diametrically opposed. We apologize for those who attacked Minister Farrakhan. Those who attacked represent the façade of Judaism.”
This example of peace and reconciliation has not been received by all as good news for the faithful. On the contrary, so-called mainstream Jewish groups have attacked this bond as insincere.
In news reports Micheal Siegel, president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, said that “the Jewish community is fairly well-organized and there are bodies equipped to have a conversation. (Farrakhan) knows their phone numbers and the fact that he chose to go elsewhere shows the lack of sincerity” in his outreach.
But the rabbis pointed out that Min. Farrakhan has made outreach for dialogue with his attackers.
Their own relationship with the Nation began last summer when they approached the Muslims seeking help in securing the release of several Jewish rabbis held in Iran for alleged spying.
That led to additional meetings to foster a better relationship. “This Jewish community is an excellent example of how Black and Jewish relations can be,” said Nation of Islam Chief of Staff Leonard F. Muhammad.
Before the 1984 elections there was hardly a mumbling word about Min. Farrakhan and Jews. The waters were parted with the great divide when Min. Farrakhan defended Rev. Jackson against Jews seeking to “ruin” his campaign. Those Jews labeled the Minister a new “Hitler.”
Although Min. Farrakhan condemned Hitler as being wicked for his deeds, somewhere and somehow that message got deleted from the media reports and all that was played over and over in the press was that Min. Farrakhan called Hitler great.
The next media distortion was the misinterpretation of the following quote: “Now, that nation of Israel never has had any peace in 40 years, and she will never have any peace because there can never be any peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit and using the name of God to shield your dirty religion under His holy and righteous name.”
Again, the media had a field day with that and soon all that was reported was that Min. Farrakhan called Judaism a “gutter religion.”
In their new pamphlet, “Exile and Redemption: The Torah Approach, An Introductory Exploration of Zionism, Jewish-Gentile Relations and the Recent Dialogue with the Nation of Islam by a Friend of Neturei Karta, ” that remark is explained by Jews themselves.
“The media widely reported that the Minister had referred to Judaism as a ‘gutter religion.’ This error (or distortion) was deeply troubling to the Nation of Islam. The reason was that in Minister Farrakhan’s vocabulary the phrase ‘dirty religion’ has a particular meaning. It referred to adherents of a faith who sinned against the tenets of that faith. The ‘dirty religion’ is the distorted faith which emerges from its manipulation by hypocrites or sinners … . The use of ‘dirty religion’ in the Minister’s lexicon could have been discovered by any researcher interested in generating light instead of heat,” the statement reads.