I-Team Report: Rising Hostilities
March 2, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A growing rift between the Chicago-based Nation of Islam and U.S. Jewish leaders centers on statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan and a new book he is peddling.
There has always been quite a divide between Farrakhan and the Jewish community, with volleys of accusations back and forth.
After Mr. Farrakhan suffered a health scare in 1999 and pledged to work for reconciliation, things quieted down. But now the hostilities are rising again.
Farrakhan gave the keynote speech on Sunday during the Nation of Islam's annual Founders' Day celebration in front of 18,000 people.
"They are the demons, not I. And they are the Satans, not I," Farrakhan said Sunday.
His remarks about Jews went unreported, overshadowed by what he said about his friendship with Libyan leader Mohammar Gaddafi.
But at Chicago's Anti-Defamation League (ADL), it was Farrakhan's comments about Jews that caught their attention.
"A big crux about what he is talking about is so highly charged, so anti-Semitic, so insulting, so hurtful and so divisive that we're hoping that people will realize what it is, and it's nothing but propaganda, misstatements and inaccuracies," said Lonnie Nasatir, ADL.
"I am not a hater of the Jewish people, but I know the truth...My job is to pull the cover off of Satan so that he will never deceive you and the people of the world again," said Farrakhan.
That is Farrakhan's newest modus operandi, according to the ADL, claiming to perform a public service by correcting history.
The ABC7 I-Team invited Farrakhan to discuss his comments for this report. After numerous emails and conversations about an interview with a Nation of Islam spokesman, we were told that they would get back to us. They did not.
"We put out the book 'The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,'" said Farrakhan.
The book reports that Jews were "heirs to the slave baron;" were "major cotton dealers" in the south; and were behind lynchings and that Jews ran the Ku Klux Klan -- Jewish exploitation of blacks that Farrakhan claims continues to this day.
"I am here to uncover and expose Satan and become an instrument of God to end their world," said Farrakhan.
"All the things he perpetuates are just common and age old stereotypes that unfortunately have meant bad things for Jews in the history of Jewish persecution," said Nasatir.
It goes beyond Farrakhan.
At last weekend's Nation of Islam annual convention, the Jewish-black book authors packed a meeting room to discuss what they say is the Jewish community's continued domination of blacks.
"They created a set of laws inspired by the people that call themselves Jews...provocated by them to keep us in a virtual slavery," said Richard A. Muhammad, Nation of Islam.
Farrakhan says the Nation of Islam is going to force the book "into every classroom" because "white people don't know what happened."
He sent copies to Jewish leaders and top politicians, with a letter citing an "undeniable record of Jewish-anti black behavior." Farrakhan then warns Jewish leaders that Allah "will bring you and your people disgrace and ruin and destroy your power and influence."
At the weekend Nation of Islam meeting, one attendee received a standing ovation for a rap video showing many Jewish leaders and calling them gangsters.
"The notion that Jews were all behind the formation or the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization that hates blacks as much as they hate Jews, is just incomprehensible and crazy," said Nasatir.
"I was three minutes away from death," Farrakhan said in 1999.
Nasatir says then it appeared as though Farrakhan had changed when he survived prostate cancer and pledged to reconcile with the Jewish community.
Since then though, Jewish leaders say the attacks have resumed and grown more divisive, culminating in the anti-Jewish book and the appearance last weekend.
"I sent a book to President Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel," said Farrakhan.
Farrakhan's speech ended a week in which Emanuel was elected the first Jewish mayor in Chicago history.
"It's about time that we sit down with Minister Farrakhan," said Nasatir.
The Anti-Defamation League seems open to a meeting with Farrakhan and Chicago mayor-elect Emanuel.
"If I'm going to do it, I will do it when I first talk to him. Let me hear from him directly," said Emanuel.
In one pre-election questionnaire, Emanuel said that his Jewish faith was instrumental to forming the man he is today, and that one of his mottos in life is something his father told him at his bar mitzvah and he told his own son. The quote is: "who are you if you are not for yourself. What are you if you are only for yourself. If not now, then when."
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