NEW YORK (Jul. 31)
American Jewish leaders expressed anger and consternation at the National Press Club for providing Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhon with a platform yesterday for his anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric.
But the Club’s president, John Fogarty, who is Washington bureau chief of the Son Francisco Chronicle, defended the Club’s decision and said that if the opportunity had been provided, he would have invited Hitler to address the Club.
Fogorty also said he would allow Rabbi Meir Kobone, the New York-born leader of the extremist rightwing Koch movement in Israel, to address the Club now that Kobone has been elected to the Knesset.
Farrakhan addressed the press club for some 90 minutes, part of which was a speech, followed by a brief question and answer period. He assailed the American Jewish leadership as “spiritually blind,”and occused them of having “obnormal” power over the United States government.
The head of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam group also said that “the Israel that is the creation of the Zionists” is based on falsehood and cannot exit when truth comes.” He said American Blacks are the “real Israel” and the “real chosen people.”
REACTIONS BY JEWISH LEADERS
Northern Perlmutter, director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said that providing Forokhon “with a bullhorn for his ravings, the press is mo?nifying his significance. The result is print pollution….”
## Chernia, executive vice chairman of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, assoiled the Club for “providing a known ## with a planform.”
Therefor ##, president of the American Jewish Congress, called on the Rev. Jesse Jackson to “unambiguously repudiate Louis Farrakhon personally.”Monn asserted that “people pay attention to Forrakhan only because of Jesse Jackson’s refusal to repudiate his anti-Semitic associate.”
Jackson, who staged an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination, has in the past months refused to repudiate Farrakhan personally, although he has sought to distance himself politically from his ally and supporter.
Farrakhon has outraged the American Jewish community with his disparaging remarks about Israel and Judaism which he called a “dirty religion.” Some reports aid he had called Judaism a “gutter religion.” He called the creation of Israel on “outlaw oct” and also termed Hitler a “wickedly great man.”
Nonetheless, Farrakhan said yesterday he did not owe anyone an apology for his past remarks. He said, “There must be on unwritten law that Israel and Jews cannot be criticized, particularly by Blocks. Anyone who does so must bear the burden of being called an anti-Semite.”
PRESS CLUB PRESIDENT’S RATIONALE
Fogarty, in a telephone interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in Washington, said he had no regrets about having Farrakhan appear at the Club. “I think he came off as advertised,” he added. In response to accusations that the Club was helping to make Farrakhan a media star, Fogarty noted that Farrakhan has already appeared on all the major network news broadcasts.
In allowing Farrakhan to speak at the Press Club, Fogarty continued, there was an opportunity for him to appear before a “neutral” forum, which he did not control and was subject to reporters’ questioning. He said there were about 20 minutes of questions and answers following Farrakhan’s opening speech.
The decision to allow Farrakhan to appear before the Press Club, which Fogarty said is designed to provide all types of individuals a forum to speak, was taken by the club’s 26-member speakers’ committee and was approved by Fogarty.
Fogarty said that before Farrakhan’s appearance yesterday, the Club received four letters criticizing the decision. Since the luncheon, he said he has received 20 phone calls critical of the Club’s decision.
Fogarty, in keeping with Club tradition, presented the Black Muslim leader with a certificate of appreciation and a Press Club windbreaker. Farrakhan’s address was broadcast live over C-Span, the cable network, and the National Public Radio.