By: Benyamin Davidsons
Monday, May 11th was the birthdate of Louis Farrakhan Sr., now 87. Also known as Louis X, Farrakhan became the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), an organization which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes as Black Nationalist, black supremacist and a hate group. A minister and political activist, he has strongly influenced the world of intolerance and continues to do so. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has described him as an anti-Semite.
Of late, there has been a resurgence in white and black extremism in the United States, as well a spike in anti-Semitism in the U.S. and abroad. As per a recent article in Tablet Magazine, anti-Semitism has not been this big a threat to the American Jewish community since the 1930s. Deadly hate crimes, such as the shooting at Pittsburg’s Tree of Life synagogue, the Chabad in Poway of California, and the attacks in Monsey and Jersey City have stressed the danger of incendiary language, such as those of black nationalists, including Farrakhan.
Led by Farrakhan, the NOI represents the most influential link between the anti-Semitism of the black power movement of the 1960s and today’s followers. Other groups of white supremacists and black nationalists have formed online through social networks, similarly disseminating anti-Semitic propaganda and conspiracy theories about the effort of Jews to control America, designed to nurture hatred for Jews. Black Nationalist groups such as the Black Hebrew Israelites are also known for having influenced the “lone wolf” attackers who perpetrated the heinous crimes in Monsey and Jersey City.
This was not the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. Ironically, it was prominent Jews who in the early 20th century were involved in the founding of the NAACP, the Urban League, and other institutions. Jewish philanthropists, including Julius Rosenwald, built over 5,000 schools for black children in the South. But that relationship deteriorated, maybe most notably because of speeches given by Malcolm X. Malcom X had once said, in response to whether or not he felt the Nation of Islam was anti-Semitic: “Many Jews have guilt feelings when people talk about “exploitation.” This is because they know that they control 90 percent of the businesses in black communities, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And they benefit more from black buying power than blacks do from other parts of the white community. So they feel guilty about it. … Jews can be found on the boards of such organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but, the same Jews won’t let you become president of B’nai B’rith, or any of their other organizations”.
This mentality was echoed by Farrakhan, perchance bridging the ideology of black nationalists with neo-Nazis. Fakkarn is now arguably the most dangerous anti-Semite in America, having referred to the Jews as “lying, murderous Zionists”: alleging that Jews caused the Sept. 11 attacks; and blatantly and contrary to evidence embellishing the role Jews played in the Atlantic slave trade. Few mainstream African American leaders have openly challenged Farrakhan’s prejudice. This spread of hatred has become especially dangerous in neighborhoods where Jews and blacks live in close proximity, such as Crown Heights and Williamsburg, both of which have seen a tragic spike in hate crimes. College campuses around the U.S. have also become a breading-ground for hate, with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) becoming a legitimate weapon.
Perhaps, in an ideal world, the Farrakhan’s of the world could be held responsible for their words, and for how they use their influence. As Professor Jack R. Fischel wrote in his article for Tablet Magazine, “Unless and until we strengthen hate crime laws against those who encourage violence against Jews and other groups, then the Farrakhans and David Dukes of this world will continue to recruit followers through social media while messaging anti-Semitic canards on an everyday basis.”