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Bradley Strategy on Farrakhan

October 27, 1985

John Mack's article on the subject of black/Jewish relations post-Farrakhan rekindles the very embers Mack professes he wishes to douse. Despite his avowed aim of moving "beyond Farrakhan," several of his assertions again stir the pot of inter-group tensions.

While there were, of course, legitimate differences on how best to approach the issue of Farrakhan's presence in Los Angeles, the question of Farrakhan's First Amendment rights, which Mack raises, was never at issue. No responsible voice in the Jewish community challenged Farrakhan's right to spew his hate. We focused on the obligation of others to utilize their First Amendment rights to speak out in opposition to Farrakhan.

Mack engages in a bit of historical revisionism by laying the blame for Farrakhan's rise to prominence in 1984 at the door of "white America." It was, after all, Jesse Jackson who catapulted Farrakhan into national fame by making him part of his trip to Syria, embracing him on public platforms, and taking an inordinately long period of time to condemn Farrakhan's bigotry and threats.

Finally, Mack's gratuitous dig at Israel's minuscule trade with South Africa poisons the stream of black-Jewish relations. What about the huge volume of trade between the black nations of the world and South Africa? How about the trade between South Africa and the Arab oil-producing nations, which literally keeps South Africa afloat? Why does not Mack seek to grapple with these more significant problems?

The impact of Farrakhan's Los Angeles visit on black/Jewish relations ought not be minimized, but the damage will not be repaired if the John Macks who know better write the kinds of articles that prompted this response.


Los Angeles

Lehrer is Western States counsel of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

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