The Neo-Nazi planned “Day of Hate” targeting Jews across America spread fear but resulted in no reported assaults; while one of the most vocal and influential Jew-hating bigots drew thousands of cheers in a packed Chicago arena for his vehement rant against Jews.
Louis Farrakhan regularly uses his position and influence as the leader of the anti-Jewish Nation of Islam to spread hatred, lies and propaganda against Jews. Farrakhan’s latest onslaught at the end of February highlights a massive source of antisemitism in the U.S. that continues unabated.
Farrakhan’s firebrand speech – The War of Armageddon Has Begun – highlighted the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day event at the Wintrust Arena. The agitator focused nearly his entire speech on Jews by promoting numerous anti-Jewish tropes and conspiracy theories, including the Synagogue of Satan’s control of America. The ‘Synagogue of Satan’ is how Farrakhan refers to Jews and Judaism.
Farrakhan’s speech attracted thousands of attendees who paid via Ticketmaster to hear his diatribe –the day after white supremacists called for a “Day of Hate” against Jews. Their anti-Jewish rhetoric across social media was intended to instill fear in local Jewish communities: “The one true enemy of the American people is the Jew,” and “our aim is to piss off our enemies, and embolden our comrades.”
There were no reported attacks against Jewish individuals or institutions. Police and security agencies advised Jews to be on alert on Shabbat amid an increased police presence at synagogues around the country. Jewish organizations encouraged increased synagogue attendance and responded with messages of #ShabbatOfPeaceNotHate and A Shabbat of Love. This turned a day of hate into a show of resolve and solidarity – bringing the Jewish community together.
Farrakhan has a long history of making anti-Jewish sermons to his followers – among them a paramilitary organization trained in combat tactics, teens in uniforms as well as young children. His hateful conspiracies invoke the Holocaust and include slanderous accusations of Jewish involvement in the slave trade as well as assertions that Jews control the U.S. government. He warned his then 335,000 Twitter followers about the “Satanic Jew,” and in a 2018 speech marking the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March, Farrakhan compared Jews to termites.
Several hip-hops stars have shared the limelight with Farrakhan over the years including Kanye West and rapper 2 Chainz, who attended his recent speech. At a celebrity’s 2018 funeral – an event that did receive notable media coverage – Farrakhan sat in the VIP section, three seats from President Clinton, with Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson seated between them.
Farrakhan spoke to a sellout crowd of 10,000 at the Chicago arena, built to host concerts, conventions and DePaul University basketball games. Public funding supplied more than half the cost of building the arena.
Tens of thousands of viewers watched his speech online, including on YouTube and Facebook. Neither company took action despite the content violating their community guidelines, and no news media covered the incendiary Jew-hating tirade. Many event hashtags trended on Twitter. Louis Farrakhan’s hateful speech also targeted the LGBTQ+ community, as he has in the past.
"[Farrakhan’s] never been more formidable because when you hear a Kanye say the things that he said about the Jewish people, much of that is what Louis Farrakhan's been saying for decades,” said Dumisani Washington, Founder and CEO of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel. [video] “He influenced some of the hip-hop world, some in the professional sports arena, in politics. He has enjoyed access to some of the most powerful Black people in the country for a long time and has influence because of that."