Rabbi Marc Schneier said he had been misled by the Nation of Islam about the nature of a recent interfaith dialogue organized by the group’s leader, Louis Farrakhan. Schneier, founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, had issued a joint statement with the foundation’s chairman, music impresario Russell Simmons, supporting the dialogue. But Schneier told JTA he was outraged by a suggested reading list Farrakhan presented, which included several anti-Semitic tracts. “I am incensed that he would use that forum to refer to books that are of the most venomous anti-Semitic rhetoric and diatribe,” Schneier said. Schneier has acknowledged previously that when it comes to Farrakhan he does not see to “eye to eye” with Simmons, who has publicly expressed his admiration for the Muslim leader, calling him his “spiritual teacher” and lauding his influence over hip-hop music. Farrakhan was widely condemned for his recommendations, which came in the context of a speech in Detroit on Sunday that aides said likely would be his last public address. Farrakhan underwent surgery recently for problems relating to prostate cancer and has relinquished day-to-day control over the Nation of Islam.
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