US/World News

In July 4th speech, Farrakhan rebuts charges of antisemitism

(JTA) – Bumped from FOX Soul TV, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan took to YouTube this weekend for a three-hour July Fourth address in which he addressed criticism of his record of antisemitism. “They tell lies to make you think I am a bigot or anti-Semite, so that you won’t listen to what I’m saying. So far they’ve been pretty successful,” he said during his speech, which also addressed racism, police brutality and the coronavirus pandemic.

Farrakhan, who has led the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim group, since 1977, has . long history of antisemitic comments. He has praised Adolf Hitler, repeated longtime stereotypes about Jewish control and manipulation, referred to Jews as “termites” and repeatedly denounced what he calls the “Synagogue of Satan.” During his speech, Farrakhan, 87, repeated criticism of Jews, who he said had supplanted the Torah with the Talmud. “They made that word in their minds and in their believers’ minds greater than God’s word,” he said.

But he said he harbored no ill will toward Jews. “If you really think I hate the Jewish people, you don’t know me at all,” he said. “[I’ve never] uttered the words of death to the Jewish people.”

He also thanked Jewish comedian Chelsea Handler for posting a video of a Farrakhan appearance on once popular talk-show “The Phil Donahue Show.” Handler removed the video and apologized after coming under fire for supporting him owing to his anti-Semitic and homophobic rhetoric.

His speech, titled “The Criterion,” originally was to be broadcast Saturday by Fox Soul TV,  a streaming TV channel launched earlier this year by 20th Century Fox focused on reaching Black Americans. But five days after announcing the speech, the channel had drawn so much criticism because of Farrakhan’s record that it replaced him with a program featuring speeches from Black leaders throughout American history.

Main Photo: Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speaks at St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago, May 9, 2019. (Kamil KrzaczynskiI/AFP/Getty Images)

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