Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has answered those who denounced as anti-Semitic his recent "Jews are my enemy" quote with another broadside, this time tweeting a video clip where he says "The Jews have control over those areas of government" - in referring to the FBI.
The clip featuring the latest remark was posted to Farrakhan's official Twitter account on March 7, well after the controversy erupted over the remarks made earlier, at a Chicago event on Feb. 25. Those comments brought new attention to Farrakhan's links with seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as to Women's March co-president Tamika Mallory, who attended the Farrakhan event, and posted a photo of herself with him on her Instagram feed after the speech.
The controversy sparked calls by many Republicans for Democrats to vigorously denounce Farrakhan's remarks. Others who quickly condemned Farrakhan's remarks also asked pointed questions on why much of the media was either slow to report the story, or have chosen to ignore it entirely.
The Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday called on the seven CBC members to resign. The coalition’s director, Matt Brooks, told Fox News the Democratic leaders with ties to Farrakhan have been quick to denounce President Donald Trump and the GOP for remarks or actions that they view as bigoted, but overlook blatant racism and anti-Semitism when it comes to Farrakhan.
“There’s clearly a double standard,” Brooks said, then amended that to say “No, there’s a double double-standard. Not only do you get the progressive left wing and more centrist Democrats who aren’t shy about criticizing President Trump or branding the Republican Party as white nationalists or neo-Nazis, but when it comes to condemning Louis Farrakhan, they’re silent.”
The members called on to resign were the subject of a story in The Daily Caller, which reported a review of videos, photographs and other documents revealed the lawmakers have had ties to Farrakhan. They are Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Maxine Waters of California, Danny Davis of Illinois, Al Green of Texas, Barbara Lee of California, Andre Carson of Indiana, and Gregory Meeks of New York.
On Thursday, Meeks tweeted “Farrakhan's anti-Semitic messages are upsetting & unacceptable. I always condemn hate speech of any kind. Also upsetting that right-wing blogs suggest otherwise & try making this a black vs. Jewish community issue. Still waiting for those blogs to condemn Trump's racist remarks.”
Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat who is not among those with ties to Farrakhan, took to Twitter to condemn the Nation of Islam leader and to say that he must be rejected, not courted.
"This is unacceptable in a progressive coalition or any political coalition," Schatz tweeted. "Anti-Semitism has no place in American society. We must reject this, left right and center."
Besides Meeks, Ellison has also condemned Farrakhan for his divisive and hostile rhetoric. Davis denounced anti-Semitism, but also praised Farrakhan, according to the Daily Caller.
In a statement on the Republican Jewish Coalition’s website calling for them to step down, Brooks wrote: "Anti-Semitism is unacceptable. Farrakhan is the moral equivalent of a leader of the KKK. If it was discovered that members of Congress had met with the leader of the KKK, they would need to resign. In this case, for meeting with, and embracing, Louis Farrakhan, nothing short of resignation is acceptable from these seven Democrats.”
Earlier this week, a spokesman for Ellison, who is the deputy director of the Democratic National Committee, told Fox News: “Rep. Ellison has repeatedly disavowed anti-Semitism and bigotry, since his first campaign for Congress in 2006.”
The spokesman referred Fox News to a 12-year-old statement Ellison made when he came under fire for ties to Farrakhan, in which he said he erroneously dismissed concerns the Nation of Islam leader was anti-Semitic, and said he never shared “their hateful views” of “Jews, gays, or any other group.”
Recently, Ellison again was in the spotlight after the Wall Street Journal reported that he had attended a meeting in 2013 with Muslim leaders where Farrakhan was present. Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress, said he did not know who would be there and that his decision to go “was not an endorsement of the political views of other attendees.”
Davis, the Illinois congressman, said in a February interview with the Daily Caller that Farrakhan is an “outstanding human being” and said he sees the minister on a regular basis. Days later, Davis’s office released a statement denouncing anti-Semitism as being “antithetical to everything I believe and everything that I work for on a daily basis.”
Reactions to the call for resignations has varied, even among groups sharing similar views on many important matters.
In Jewishpress.com, writer David Israel argued that while Brooks was right to denounce Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, he should not call for the resignation of lawmakers who have been pro-Israel, and are crucial congressional allies to Jews.
“Their Jewish voters and their Jewish colleagues in the Democratic party are entitled to an explanation about those Farrakhan meetings,” Israel wrote in Jewishpress.com, “but in politics, meeting a man, disturbing and loathsome as he may be, is not the same as endorsing his views. Pro-Israel Democrats have had enough trouble finding allies within the Black Caucus in Congress to face the Palestinian and BDS threats, to name just two.”
BDS refers to the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign that says Israel is responsible for violations of Palestinian rights and international law.
But Brooks rejected the contention lawmakers should be given a pass for “breaking bread with Farrakhan” because of other ways they can be useful to constituents.
“These [lawmakers] are leaders of the Democratic Party,” Brooks said. “If that’s enough for [David Israel], then why isn’t there the same standard when they criticize Donald Trump and other Republicans are who friends of Israel?”
“None of these Democrats went into those meetings with Farrakhan not knowing who he was,” Brooks said. “At some point they made the decision that they were going to go ahead and meet with him.”