A US congressman, who has praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, on Thursday condemned the minister’s anti-Semitic views, while accusing his critics of attempting to “defame” him.
Representative Danny Davis, a Democrat from Illinois who previously called Farrakhan an “outstanding human being,” in a statement said: “I reject, condemn and oppose Minister Farrakhan’s views and remarks regarding the Jewish people and the Jewish religion.”
Farrakhan, a vocal anti-Semite for decades, recently gave a speech laced with anti-Jewish statements. There have been a rising number of calls in the speech’s wake for Farrakhan’s allies to disavow him.
In his statement, Davis referred to a statement a few days earlier, in which he rejected all forms of hatred, including anti-Semitism.
“There have been attempts to question my commitment to these principles because I did not specifically single out the views and remarks of Minister Louis Farrakhan in that statement,” said Davis on Thursday. “I make no exceptions to my rejection, condemnation and active opposition of hatred, bigotry and separatism. So let me be clear: I reject, condemn and oppose Minister Farrakhan’s views and remarks regarding the Jewish people and the Jewish religion.”
He accused his critics of attempting to “defame” him, and “deceitfully and deceptively attempting to use this as an opportunity to foment division and hatred between the African American and Jewish communities.”
“For my part, I will continue to seek unity, cooperation and solidarity in the struggle for equality, social and economic justice for all who reside in our great country,” he said.
J Street, the dovish pro-Israel group that earlier this week came under fire for its endorsement of Davis, welcomed his statement and signaled it would not rescind its support.
“Anti-Semitism is a scourge and Louis Farrakhan is a shameless peddler of it, for which there is no excuse or justification. We condemn his record of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred unequivocally,” it said.
“African Americans and Jewish Americans have long been victims of baseless, categorical prejudice, making it all the more critical that our communities stand together in confronting it in all forms it takes, wherever and whenever it occurs. We look forward to our continued work with Representative Davis on this and other issues of shared concern,” the organization said.
JStreetPAC, the arm of the liberal Israel lobby that funds and endorses candidates, currently lists Davis as a candidate it supports. The endorsement, first reported in the Forward, calls Davis “a longtime supporter of Israel and a two-state solution.”
Earlier this week, a J Street spokesman wrote in an email to JTA that the lobby is speaking with Davis’s office and reconsidering that endorsement.
“We take anti-Semitism quite seriously,” J Street’s statement read. “We are currently in conversation with Representative Davis’s office about this issue. We will get back to you shortly with a more extensive response.”
Davis praised Farrakhan as an “outstanding human being” in an interview last month with the Daily Caller, a conservative news site. In another interview this week, Davis told the Daily Caller that Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism does not concern him enough to disavow Farrakhan, who heads a black separatist movement.
“I know Farrakhan, been knowing him for years and years and years and years and years, and every once in a while some writer or somebody will I guess try to think of something to say about Farrakhan, but nah, my world is so much bigger than any of that,” Davis told the Daily Caller. “The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question and his position on that and so forth.”