[Editor’s Note: The following text is part 2 of excerpts from an interview of Minister Louis Farrakhan on NBC television’s Meet The Press. It was aired on April 13, just prior to Min. Farrakhan’s visit to Philadelphia at the invitation of Mayor Ed Rendell, who is Jewish.]
Tim Russert (TR): Your comments about Jews–and they also are refusing to participate in this meeting–are widely reported; the reference to it as a dirty religion. I went and reviewed what you said and I went back and I watched your speech from 1995. And I’d like to play just a piece of that for you to explain exactly what you meant.
Minister Louis Farrakhan (MLF): Sure.
TR: And let’s roll the tape, if we can. (Video from March 19, 1995)
MLF: German Jews financed Hitler right here in America–Loeb and Kuhn and Jacob Schiff. International bankers financed Hitler, and poor Jews died while big Jews were at the root of what you call the Holocaust. Why don’t you tell that one? Little Jews dying while big Jews made money. Little Jews being turned into soap while big Jews washed themselves with it. Jews playing violin. Jews playing music while other Jews (were) marching into the gas chambers. (End of video)
TR: Now, if you were a Jewish American watching that, your reference to “what you call the Holocaust,” suggesting whether there was a Holocaust, and the whole reference to big Jews and little Jews and the emphasis you use, why wouldn’t you say that’s anti-Semitic?
MLF: The question is: Is it truth? If it is truth, then it is not anti-Semitic, it is truth. My problem with the Jewish community is that most of the Jewish people feel that if you criticize any act of Jews, that is anti-Semitic. If I criticize Arabs, if I criticize the government of the United States, if I criticize white people or my own Black people, I’m not considered anti-Black, anti-Arab. Why should anybody who criticizes Jewish behavior that ill affects Black people and their pursuit of happiness be considered anti-Semitic?
Last week Orthodox Jews made the statement that reform and conservative Jews are off the page of Judaism. I saw it not in the New York Times, but I saw it in the Chicago papers, just a little writing. But nobody called them anti-Semitic. But if I said that reformed Jews or conservative Jews are those that do not follow the laws, commandments and statutes given by God to the prophets of Israel are not really Jews, then I’m considered anti-Semitic. I am not anti-Semitic. I do not hate Jewish people. I hate actions of any people, including my own, that are evil and are obstructive to justice, freedom and equity.
TR: Do you believe there was a Holocaust in which six million Jews perished?
MLF: Of course I believe that Jews perished in Germany, and (those) same Jews perished in Germany while the Pope Pius XII looked the other way and the government of America looked the other way. Now there is reconciliation between Jews and Catholics and the government of the United States. What is wrong with reconciliation between those who looked the other way when my fathers were being brought into America as slaves, and to this very moment have not received justice? I think atonement, reconciliation and responsibility should be the watch word for this time, and I am willing to sit down with any who wish to discuss atonement, reconciliation and responsibility.
TR: Would you be willing to retract or apologize for some of the things you’ve said?
MLF: If, in any dialogue, I can be shown to be in error, I would most surely apologize. But you cannot put me off in a corner and not dialogue with me and then say to me, “Farrakhan speaks words that are hateful.” If I can defend every word that I speak, and every word that I speak is truth, then I have nothing to apologize for. But if, in a dialogue, you can show me where I am in error, I am not a proud man. I will humble myself and go before the world and apologize. But now the burden is, will you show me where I am wrong?
TR: I went up on the Internet last night, www.noi–Nation of Islam–.org and found an essay written by one of your followers, and it said the following: “The Jews’ awesome control over American society and government, all presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, 1932, are controlled by Jews.” Do you believe that?
MLF: I believe that, for the small numbers of Jewish people in the United States, they exercise a tremendous amount of influence on the affairs of government. Right now there is a tremendous problem in the Middle East, a very grave problem. I do not think that President Clinton is handling his role in the most responsible manner. As you know, East Jerusalem was under Palestinian control until the year 1967. After the Six-Day War, it was annexed by Israel. It is part of ongoing negotiations.
Now, for Netanyahu to say he wishes to build in East Jerusalem, and the world says he shouldn’t do this, and since he said he would build and started moving on that, violence has erupted, and the peace process has been brought to a halt. Mr. Clinton, instead of exercising the strength of a man whose country contributes at least $4 billion every year to the state of Israel, America has influence in Israel, but is not using that influence in a constructive way, but rather pays lip service to the Palestinians while she bows to the dictates of Netanyahu and the strong political Jewish lobby.
TR: Mr. Farrakhan, you seem to be suggesting that what you told Henry Louis Gates in New York … or you still believe there’s a small Jewish cabal that meets on Park Avenue or Hollywood and tries to shape our culture.
MLF: I don’t know why you would put that on me. I was quoting a Jewish movie producer in Jamaica, producing the movie, “Lost In the Stars,” and it was that Jewish producer who told me this. I didn’t ask him. He mentioned this to me.
TR: But this is what you said, sir: “Who controls Black art? Who controls Black sports figures? Who controls Black intellectuals, Black politicians? When I talk to the Jews, I’m talking to a segment of that quorum that holds my people in their grip.”
MLF: And that is true. Who controls the movement of the NAACP? The Urban League? Who controls Black politicians?
TR: Who does?
MLF: Why is it that when I go before our brothers in quiet they can say good things about me. But when they fear the Jewish reaction to any kind word … look at (Washington Post columnist) Mr. Novak. He just said a few kind words about my work, and look at the kind of brickbats he has received. Mayor Rendell invited me to Philadelphia, and look at the brickbats he’s receiving from his own people. Yes, they exercise extraordinary control, and Black people will never be free in this country until they are free of that kind of control.
And I do intend, by the help of God, to break up that control so that when a new relationship is structured, it is structured on the basis of equity and reciprocity. We cannot allow ourselves to be controlled by any outside group. We must take control of our own destiny. That is what I preach, and that is what I believe, and that is what I’m striving for.
TR: Our next question is from (Washington Post columnist) David Broder (DB)
DB: Mr. Farrakhan, President Clinton has said that if the United States determines that a foreign government had a part in the attack on the U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia, where 19 Americans were killed, that we will retaliate against that country. My paper reports today that there is now evidence that Iran was perhaps linked to that attack. Would we be justified in retaliating?
MLF: You know, Libya was bombed under the (former President) Reagan administration, under the alleged bombing of a discotheque in Germany where three American soldiers lost their lives. It has since come out that Libya was not responsible for that bombing, yet Reagan ordered the most expensive assassination attempt in the history of the world. Now, America has also, in the beginning when Pan Am 103 was downed, America said it was Syria. It was possibly Iranian, but Libya was not mentioned.
A few years later it became a Libyan-sponsored terrorist act to justify the continued embargo on Libya. Now America sees Iran, an Islamic republic, as a serious threat. Recently, Congress voted $20 million more for covert operations against Iran. America fears the rise of Islam, those in government. Now they’re hinting that there may be some Iranian involvement in this bombing. America shot down an Iranian plane with over 300 Iranians. America has not even apologized to Iran or offered compensation. Now, she talks about wanting to retaliate? What kind of retaliation? It is this kind of sick foreign policy objectives of our government that will bring her ultimately to her ruin.
DB: Your travel to some of those countries, including Libya, where you were quoted as describing Mr. Gadhafi as a freedom fighter, has drawn a great deal of criticism. Let me ask you this. I came across a clipping of a speech–actually, a transcript of a speech–that you made here in Washington just about a year ago at the National Press Club where you said, “As a Muslim, I cannot pledge allegiance to the flag. My allegiance is to God.” We all know the words of the Pledge of Allegiance. I wonder what it is in those words that you find impossible to say.
MLF: “Liberty and justice for all” is one. As a Muslim, I cannot give my all to the symbol of a government, no matter what that government is. As a Muslim, I give my allegiance only to God. And I submit to the laws that govern this land, as long as those laws do not conflict with my religion. That is a basic principle of my belief, and there are many American citizens who subscribe to faiths other than Islam who will not pledge allegiance to the flag.
I will never disrespect that flag. I don’t agree with flag burnings. I don’t agree with draping the flag of an independent and sovereign nation over toilets. I don’t believe in anyone not respecting the flag of this sovereign nation. And whenever “The Star Spangled Banner” is played, even though I will not pledge allegiance, I stand in respect. That is the best that I can give to the flag, is respect.
DB: The country, as you know, is riveted this weekend by the extraordinary spectacle of Tiger Woods, this 21-year-old Black man, who is setting a course on a once-segregated golf course in Georgia; that has won the admiration, apparently, of all of his fellow professionals, most of them white, of course. Do you think that he is somehow in the control of a group of Jews or other people, or what does that represent to you?
MLF: I’m not familiar with Tiger Woods’ management, agents and all of the things that go into….
DB: Well, suppose he had a Black man … I mean, had a Jewish manager? What would that …
MLF: I’m not saying that that’s bad. I’m saying that the way Black entertainers and sports figures are handled, they are nothing more than glorified pieces of meat.
DB: Is that how you see Tiger Woods?
MLF: I don’t know Tiger Woods. I’m proud of his work. I’m proud of his accomplishments. He is a giant in his field, as most of our sports figures are. But what I’m concerned with, Mr. Broder, is (how) America glorifies sports and entertainment figures who are Black. Where are our scientists? Our doctors? Our scholars? Our people who add to the development of civilization rather than glorifying only those who embellish the civilization through art?
And then, of course, the degenerate culture that is coming from some of our artists, I am angry at that. And Time Warner and those fellows who have our rap artists and promote this degenerate language, this filthy speech, this gangster talk, they have to accept some responsibility for this, and this is wrong. And I will continue to speak out against it.
DB: I attended the Million Man March and, like many others, was impressed by the turnout there. What sort of political leverage do you think that that has given Black people or yourself in particular?
MLF: In the last election, those who studied the election said that 1.7 million Black males, more than before, voted in this election. It says that Blacks heard our message, they responded to our message. And we hope to organize and mobilize Black people so that we can become an economic and political force in the landscape of America.
TR: Black Americans voted overwhelmingly, nine out of 10, for Bill Clinton.
TR: Is that a good thing?
MLF: No, it is not. I feel that our people, who were once Republicans, were very loyal to the Republican Party because of what Abraham Lincoln did. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt came up with the New Deal during the Depression and Black folk found in him a person who was sensitive to the needs of the poor, they left the Republican Party and became Democrats. Now, Black people are taken for granted in the Democratic Party and not even sought after in the Republican Party. But there is a substantial vote that must not be taken for granted by either party, and we hope to break up that as well.