We’ve spent the best part of a week in grief for 11 martyred Jews in Pittsburgh and largely hearing that they died because of Donald Trump. My good friend Bret Stephens, The New York Times Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist, wrote, “The blood that flowed in Pittsburgh is on [Trump’s] hands also.”
Bret joined me in a public discussion on the subject, along with Elisha Wiesel, son of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, at our World Values Network headquarters. I challenged Bret, pointing out not only that Trump had protected Israel against Iran’s genocidal threats and ferociously defended Israel at the UN, but that it would be seen as extreme to accuse President Obama of having Israeli blood on his hands because he legitimized Iranian genocidal language with his nuclear deal. The audience was divided, with some agreeing with Bret’s argument, that Trump had stoked the fires of immigrant-hatred which expressed itself in the murder of innocent Jews, and some agreeing with me that, rather than condemning a president who has shown unprecedented support for Israel and friendship to the Jewish community, we should instead implore him to give a prime-time address categorically and unequivocally condemning white supremacist ascendancy.
But what I did not hear at all last week was that radical antisemites from the left, like Louis Farrakhan, had contributed to a culture of hatred of the Jewish people, with Democrats refusing to condemn his recent and vile comparison of Jews to termites.
It is right to demand that President Trump condemn neo-Nazis. But why should Democrats give Farrakhan a pass? And I ask this more than ever of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a proud supporter of Israel who has committed the Democratic Party to fighting antisemitism, and my close friend Cory Booker, who has received more pro-Israel financial support than almost anyone in American political life and enjoys a unique friendship with the Jewish community, ever since he served as my student President at Oxford University.
A week before the Pittsburgh massacre, a man got up on a stage in the United States of America, called the Jews termites, and received a standing ovation.
That man was Louis Farrakhan.
The civil-rights activist turned religious leader turned racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemitic incendiary is the official leader of the Nation of Islam. Both religion and social movement, the Nation was born from a combination of elements of traditional Islam with black nationalism. Added to the mix was a healthy infusion of race-based theology, with the group claiming that up until just a few thousand years ago there were no white people. It took an evil black scientist to develop such beings in a lab before setting them loose and allowing them to take over the world – a development which they believe needs to be corrected.
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The Nation of Islam is also one of the most powerful black organizations in the United States, with up to 50,000 members and a formidable list of powerful allies and celebrity patrons.
Martin Luther King famously called the Nation of Islam a “hate group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center did the same, adding on their website that the Nation has earned itself a “prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.” Under Farrakhan the Nation of Islam has emerged as one of our country’s leading springs of hatred against not only whites, but against homosexuals and, of course, Jews.
About white people, Farrakhan insists that they have only the “potential” to be human since they “haven’t evolved yet.” “Murder and lying come easy for white people,” he said on another occasion, eventually topping off the accusation with the judgment that “white people deserve to die.” (He actually said these words with a massive banner directly behind him reading the name of his sponsor: the “Conflict Resolution Center.”)
In 1984, he referred to the world’s only Jewish State as one “structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit.” He accused the Jews of “using the name of God to shield [their] dirty religion…”
Like all haters of Israel, Farrakhan’s antisemitism has nothing to do with a belief in Palestinian rights. On the contrary, it’s because Israel is filled with Jews.
Louis Farrakhan hates Jews, pure and simple.
Most often, Farrakhan parrots the oldest antisemitic tropes. Taking verbiage right out of the Nazi playbook, Farrakhan has on a number of occasions referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers” for having worked as landlords in black communities.
He’s also taken time to point out the severely unoriginal idea that the Jews control Hollywood. He added to the conspiracy the even older idea that Jews use their influence to bring people all over the world “down in moral strength” by spreading “filth and degenerative behavior.” In this particular instance, he was referring to Hollywood’s belief that it’s OK to be gay. “It’s the wicked Jews, the false Jews, that are promoting lesbianism [and] homosexuality.” He didn’t say this decades ago. These quotes all come from speeches given in 2006 and 2018.
Where he went further than almost any of his Jew-hating peers, however, was in his accusation that the Jews “have been conclusively linked to the greatest criminal endeavor ever undertaken against an entire race of people … the black African Holocaust.” Unlike the earlier examples, these words were not spoken in the heat of a speech or in the casual environment of a radio interview. These words came right out Farrakhan’s book, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews.
Two weeks ago, Farrakhan managed to surmount every one of those poisonous words, tweeting out a clip of a recent speech in which he declared “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” In Farrakhan’s universe, Jews were no longer just bad people. Now, there were no people at all. They were vermin. Cockroaches. Termites.
And we all know what you do with termites. You exterminate them.
Throughout history, antisemites of all stripes have sought to cast the Jews as something utterly worthless yet massively destructive. It was a way of making the act of killing a Jew something that was not only necessary but meaningless. Hitler’s SS troops, therefore, were able to exterminate tens of thousands of Jews in a day. You see, they were killing an infestation, not people.
It may be extreme to compare Farrakhan to Hitler. But he did it himself. During a radio interview, Farrakhan acknowledged the fact. “[T]he Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler.” Instead of rebuffing the comparison, he embraced it. “That’s a good name,” he said, “Hitler was a very great man.” He then reinforced it. “[Hitler] raised Germany up from nothing,” he explained, adding, “In a sense, you could say there’s a similarity in that we are raising our people up from nothing.” He’s also used the Holocaust as a metaphor to describe what awaited the Jews in hell. My late friend Christopher Hitchens personally heard Farrakhan punctuate a tirade against Jews with this: “And don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!”
The only question that remains is this: how could leading political figures like Bill Clinton have agreed to legitimize such genocidal hate by recently appearing on the same stage as Farrakhan at Aretha Franklin’s funeral? And given the unfortunate association, why didn’t Clinton immediately condemn Farrakhan’s genocidal Jewish reference?
Just days before his “termites” slur, Farrakhan announced the release of a new music album made in collaboration with some of the most powerful men in music, including Stevie Wonder, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg and Common. At least seven members of Congress — including Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, Danny Davis, Andre Carson, Gregory Meeks, Al Green and most famously, DNC whip Keith Ellison, have all sat down for personal meetings with Farrakhan while representing the American people in Congress. Farrakhan even attended a 2005 meeting of the Black Congressional Caucus. At that meeting, former president Barack Obama even smiled for a photograph with Farrakhan just three years before becoming president.
American Jews need to draw a line.
It is not only neo-Nazis that need to be condemned by Republicans. It is Farrakhan and his ilk who should be repudiated utterly by Democrats. Never again must mean exactly that: Never Again.
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