WASHINGTON (Jun. 16)
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is using anti-Semitism and scapegoating tactics to gain the support of segments of the black community who feel under siege, according to Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.), an outspoken member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
And although he was speaking at a forum Wednesday that addressed the status of black-Jewish relations, he said that such meetings are “absurd” and “ridiculous” because the recent crises between the communities has been created by “the systematic effort of the Nation of Islam to focus on Jews and target them and make them scapegoats.”
Owens’ remarks came one day after a black leadership summit convened by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which generated controversy because of Farrakhan’s presence there. Owens did not attend the summit.
The forum Owens addressed was sponsored by the Institute for Public Affairs, the public policy and advocacy wing of the Orthodox Union.
Owens cited examples of strong Jewish support for black mayoral candidates across the country and communications mogul Walter Annenberg’s recent multimillion dollar donation to the United Negro College Fund, to illustrate that the split between blacks and Jews has been manufactured by Farrakhan.
Owens said that the use of hatred by demagogues such as Farrakhan and his former aide Khalid Abdul Muhammad “must be confronted aggressively.”
Owens criticized black leaders for not denouncing Farrakhan forcefully enough.
“The level of denunciation, the level of criticism has been too low,” he said.
“There is a need for an aggressive counter-attack, a countervailing force, to move against a force which is seeking to exploit the vulnerability of African-Americans.”
Owens stressed that the danger of Farrakhan is not to the Jewish community, but to the black community, which will isolate itself if it does not denounce Farrakhan and others who spread hate.
“The danger to the black community is because we are moving into a situation where we are going to isolate ourselves from our long-term coalition partners,” Owens said, referring to Jews.
“If blacks do not appreciate, if they turn their back on their coalition partners, who else will ever make a coalition with them?” Owens asked.