Democratic congressman who praised Louis Farrakhan now denounces him

Ron Kampeas

Rep. Danny Davis participating in a press conference at Garfield Park Conservatory to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa on World AIDS Day at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, Dec. 1, 2009. (Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images for (RED))

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., the Democrat who came under fire for praising Louis Farrakhan, is now condemning the anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam.

“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” Davis said Thursday evening, referring to an earlier statement in which he opposed “all forms of hatred, bigotry and separatism based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability or language including specifically anti-Semitism.”

“So let me be clear: I reject, condemn and oppose Minister Farrakhan’s views and remarks regarding the Jewish people and the Jewish religion,” Davis said in his statement Thursday.

Farrakhan, a vocal anti-Semite for decades, recently gave a speech laced with anti-Semitic statements. There have been calls in the speech’s wake on anyone ever associated with Farrakhan to disavow him, including on figures who had disavowed him in the past.

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A number of Jewish Democrats in recent days have once again condemned Farrakhan, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Sen. Brian Schatz., D-Hawaii.

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.

Those statements drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League, which had previously accepted Davis’ claim that the Daily Caller has misquoted him, and the Jewish Democratic Council of America. They also led J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, to contact Davis for clarification. J Street’s political action committee lists Davis as an endorsed candidate.

J Street praised Davis’ latest statement. “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 in a statement. “We expect Representative Davis and all other members of Congress we endorse to reject Farrakhan’s deeply disturbing views of the Jewish people.

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