LOS ANGELES – The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday demanded that Michael Jackson apologize for allegedly calling Jews "leeches" in a private telephone message that was recorded two years ago and has now surfaced in connection with a lawsuit against the pop star.
"Michael Jackson has an anti-Semitic streak, and hasn't learned from his past mistakes," said a statement issued by Abraham H. Foxman, the league's national director. "It seems every time he has a problem in his life, he blames it on Jews."
Jackson infuriated Jewish groups in 1995 when his song "They Don't Care About Us" included the lyrics "Jew me, sue me, everybody do me, kick me, kike me."
Jackson apologized, saying the lyrics were meant to demonstrate the hatefulness of racism, anti-Semitism and stereotyping. He then changed the lyrics.
On Tuesday, ABC's "Good Morning America" aired portions of a 2003 voice message that Jackson allegedly left for a former adviser, Dieter Wiesner, in which he allegedly accused Jews of leaving performers penniless.
The message was among about a dozen released by attorney Howard King, who represents Wiesner and another former adviser who are suing Jackson.
A transcript of the message provided Wednesday by King's office quotes Jackson as saying: "They suck them like leeches ... I'm so tired of it. I'm so tired of it.
"They start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money, big house, cars and everything and end up penniless. It's a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose."
Jackson's spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, said Wednesday the singer had no comment on the report.
King said he released the messages to keep Jackson from appearing sympathetic in two upcoming lawsuits.
"When you're engaged in a civil suit with Michael Jackson or any celebrity like him, your trial starts long before the jury gets impaneled," King said. "I want to show early on that when he starts trying to act like the victim ... we have the evidence to show that he's not the victim, he's the victimizer."
King said only portions of the message about Jews were aired by "Good Morning America" but the edited message "didn't change in content one iota."
"It's a rant about one of his trusted advisers who happens to be Jewish" and who ultimately was fired, King said. He declined to name the adviser.
King represents Wiesner, who filed a $64.5 million fraud and breach-of-contract suit against Jackson on Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It alleges Jackson defrauded Wiesner of some merchandising rights to his name and likeness.
"Mr. Wiesner is another victim of the grandiose promises made by Michael Jackson that went unfulfilled," King said. "Dieter Wiesner put up almost $9 million for merchandising rights that Jackson neglected to point out that he already had sold to somebody else."
The suit claims that when Wiesner finally got title to the rights, they "yielded little income" because Jackson refused to cooperate and even "interfered" with marketing efforts.
A call to Jackson's attorney, Thomas Mesereau, seeking comment, was not immediately returned.
King also released messages that Jackson allegedly left for another former adviser, Marc Schaffel.
"Marc, I really need you to get ... seven million for me as soon as possible," said a portion of the message played on "Good Morning America."
King represents Schaffel, who is suing Jackson for more than $3 million. The suit, which is scheduled for trial on June 2, alleges that Jackson owes Schaffel for producing two 2003 television specials and for payments and loans made to the entertainer over the past three years.
Jackson has countersued Schaffel, alleging he concealed and misappropriated funds. He claims Schaffel failed to pay costs related to the production of the Jackson song "What More Can I Give?" and that Schaffel kept $250,000 in sculptures and paintings belonging to the singer.
Jackson, now living in Bahrain, was acquitted in June of child molestation charges in Santa Barbara County, site of his Neverland ranch.