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Farrakhan, religious leaders address CBC

by Eric Ture Muhammad
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON (—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan held capacity audiences spellbound during the Sept. 11-14, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) 32nd Annual Legislative Conference, as he addressed issues concerning United States foreign and domestic policy, peace, harmony, Africa and the world.

He challenged all who would listen to follow the guidance of God in addressing these issues, reminding listeners that prophets, warners and messengers are sent to to challenge the powers that be and encourage them to obey God, His commands and be in complete submission to His will.

Minister Farrakhan told religious leaders that it is not the job of the spiritual leaders to seek the guidance of the kings and rulers of this world. God produced prophets and messengers to guide them into the correct path, he said.

The Nation of Islam leader was the special guest of Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.). His presentations were delivered on the heels of President George Bush’s speech to the United Nations and its Security Council regarding his pursuit of President Saddam Hussein and his desire to war with Iraq.

The Minister joined a panel of religious leaders, scholars and political analysts from the Arab, Muslim and Jewish worlds over the course of two days within the four-day confab. He told the gatherings that he believed this to be the first time that a true dialogue between him and members of the Jewish community and members of government had actually occurred. He also attended the CBC banquet at the conclusion of the convention and was mobbed by celebrities, supporters and members of Congress who offered their greetings, best wishes and appreciation for his efforts in pursuit of peace.

"I must thank you (Mr. Conyers) from the depth of my heart for creating this panel," the Minister said Sept. 12 during his opening remarks on U.S. foreign policy and Mid-East conflict. "I know that if it were not for you, I would not be in a panel with such distinguished rabbis and scholars. I thank you for creating such a panel that would allow me probably for the first time to be in a dialogue with members of different religious perspectives but suffering a common need to find resolution to conflict and bring about peace not only in the Middle East, but peace in our own troubled lives and society," he said.

He also thanked Rep. Hilliard during the panel discussion "Africa and the World" that, while well attended, staff members of the CBC Foundation, sponsors of the conference, told attendees that the session was canceled, leaving many persons discouraged.

"Whenever God gives to you revelation, He is giving you power, but He is also testing you, through revelation, as to how you are going to use the power that He gives you," Min. Farrakhan said. "If you use it in accordance to His will, you bring about righteousness. If you use it in contravention to His will, you bring about what is on the earth today."

Much focus was given to the Sept. 12 address made by President Bush at the UN. Chief among the many objections raised was Mr. Bush’s attempt to appeal to the world body before offering explanation to the American public.

"He has not made that case in the United States. He has not made that case before the Congress. He has not made that case before the American people," argued Rep. Conyers.

Also expressed was an urgent need to neutralize the power that lobbies and interest groups continue to exercise over the U.S. Congress at the expense of the will of the American people.

"You can never change America’s policy as long as lobbies that give the Congress over a billion dollars a year can influence legislation that may or may not be in the interest of the American people but in the interest of those multinational corporations, those interests in America that have taken away from the American people a representative government and bought and paid for your legislators," Min. Farrakhan said. "I want to see America made right. America owes something to the world."

"She got to be the world’s greatest superpower because people from Europe came, people from Asia came, people from the Caribbean, from Central and South America and from Africa and the isles of the Pacific came here and made America what America is. So America’s domestic policy should reflect her gratefulness to all of us who made America what she is. America’s foreign policy should reflect her gratitude to all the nations that gave her, her ‘huddled masses’ that were yearning to breathe free," he said.

The Middle East is such a critical area of the world, it dominated the discussions of all panels involving the Nation of Islam leader. "It’s really the heart of the earth," Min. Farrakhan said, out of which has come all of the revealed words and all of the prophets of God that we admire and love.

Reps. Conyers and Hilliard said the issues abroad bring to light serious questions. First, how can peace be brought to the Middle East and what will happen if the Bush administration is able to persuade her allies that a preemptive strike in Iraq is an appropriate activity on the part of the family of nations?

"Now the questions that Muslims have to ask and Arabs have to ask themselves—if nothing happens except by the active or permissive will of God and the state of Israel is there, then the question is: Will you accept its reality and deal with it or will you continue with the idea that that state has to be thoroughly destroyed?" Min. Farrakhan asked.

And the Jews who say they want Ha’aretz Israel or the whole thing, "Neither one of those views can bring peace right now," he acknowledged.

"The Middle East needs more peacemakers and fewer troublemakers," said Mr. Omar Kadar, former head of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination League. "Right now we have a lot of troublemakers with a lot of power and getting rid of these troublemakers is going to be difficult because too many of them got to where they are through the democratic process. President Bush and Secretary Powell enunciated and laid out what the conditions are for engaging in peace in the Middle East. But, they are not very realistic and they are not very bold and they do not show an ounce of leadership," he said.

Mr. Kadar cited previous progress made in Mid-East peace talks during the Clinton administration, the "good faith proposals" formulated by former Senators Grudman and Mitchell, and the March proposal presented in Beirut by the Arab League calling for the creation of a Palestinian state, and a return to the original borders of 1967 by all sides.

"The president didn’t even touch it," said Mr. Kadar.

Georgetown University Law Center professor and cantor Jonathan D. Strum took another perspective. He said the recent firing of President Yasser Arafat’s cabinet in Palestine is progress and a direct result of the positive pressure of the United States.

"The fact that the cabinet was fired was a tremendous revolution in Palestinian politics," he said.

Rabbi Binyamin Bibber and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center and leader of the American-Jewish Peace Movement addressed the audience as well as Mr. Mahdi Bray, president of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations.

Rabbi Waskow, a former legislative assistant on Capitol Hill for several years, said he has learned that the representation of the will of the people is a sacred one and not always easy to achieve. He also said it was no accident that the call for such a momentous dialogue with such diversity among its panel would occur at the behest of the Black lawmakers of this country.

He said the collaboration of violence and destruction are the deepest violations of the teachings of God, Torah and history.

"We are taught to face the truth. A rabbi once commented that justice, peace and truth are the three great pillars that uphold the world. Another rabbi responded that these are not three pillars, but simply one. For where truth is spoken, justice is affirmed and peace is achieved," said Rabbi Waskow.

Min. Farrakhan responded that, "Both the Bible and Qur’an agree, that the heavens and the earth are created in truth and that Almighty God Himself is not only the author of peace, but the abode of peace."

"I don’t believe that the originators of the state of Israel were in fact messianic. I believe they wanted a place for Jewish people who had suffered for the past 2,000 years. And with the help of nations, they were mandated a territory. The Arabs and the Palestinians never agreed to that, therefore, from day one there was conflict," he said.

"It doesn’t please me to be against the president of the United States. I don’t like to be opposite the head of the house. But if I see the head of the house going wrong, what is my responsibility?" he asked.

"He’s not a king ruling by divine right. He is a president and a servant of the people. And if you are my servant bringing me my dinner and I don’t like the way you’re serving me, I have a right to tell you that I don’t like your service," he said.

Photo: Min. Farrakhan participants in CBC panel discussion on U.S. foreign and domestic policy with Christian and Jewish clergy.

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