Edgar Bronfman Senior  Letter 02  06-Apr-2000  Why did Edgar Bronfman Senior declare war on Blacks?
"Two things have become totally clear.  One is that what Farrakhan and his gang are after is money.  Number two, leopards don't change their spots, and this man is evil personified." Edgar Bronfman Senior

April 06, 2000
Edgar M. Bronfman
The Seagram Company, Ltd.
1430 Peel Street
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1S9

Edgar M. Bronfman:

I call your attention to an article by Eric J. Greenberg, appearing in the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California of 22Nov96, excerpts from which I reproduce below:

External link to the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California

November 22, 1996

Farrakhan unrepentant after meeting Jewish leader


N.Y. Jewish Week

At the urging of "60 Minutes" journalist Mike Wallace, billionaire Edgar Bronfman broke ranks with Jewish leaders and hosted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan at a private dinner last spring to spark black Muslim-Jewish dialogue.

But two days after the dinner, Farrakhan again invoked the Holocaust in what the World Jewish Congress head believed was an inappropriate way, terminating the overture and leaving Bronfman convinced that the controversial Nation of Islam leader is "evil personified," according to letters newly obtained by The Jewish Week.

By meeting with Farrakhan last spring, Bronfman, the owner of Seagram's, bucked the mainstream.  Jewish leaders have steadfastly refused Farrakhan's call for face-to-face meetings since he emerged as perhaps the most-talked-about American black leader following his Million Man March last year in Washington.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," David Harris, executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee, said of the dinner.

"Had we been asked, we would have said very clearly that no meeting at this time could be productive.  It could only serve Farrakhan's purposes to validate himself and pursue mainstream credentials."

The idea for the meeting came after Wallace interviewed Farrakhan on "60 Minutes" last April.  Wallace said he became convinced the minister was sincere about having a dialogue with Jewish leaders.

"He said he felt he had been misunderstood and asked if I be could be helpful, and I said I would try," Wallace said.

Wallace called a few Jewish organization leaders and was turned down.  Then he thought of Bronfman, who was most recently in the news for exposing the World War II Swiss-Nazi gold connection.

Bronfman "couldn't have been more receptive," Wallace said.

So Farrakhan, his wife and two associates, as well as Wallace and his wife, were invited to Bronfman's New York apartment for "a very pleasant" dinner, Wallace said.

"I remember the wine was good.  The Farrakhans did not imbibe," Wallace, who is Jewish, recalled.

Wallace said the participants discussed "all manner of things" involving black-Jewish relations.

"Farrakhan was forthcoming.  There was a kind of interesting meeting of the minds about the necessity for reconciliation and the desire for reconciliation.  By the time we left, all concerned seemed to be on reasonably good terms."


After the first meeting, Bronfman sent the executive vice president of Seagram's, Steve Herbits, to meet with Farrakhan's chief of staff and son-in-law Elijah Mohammed for further conversations.

"Herbits made it clear that the first thing that must happen is that the language used by Minister Farrakhan must be drastically changed" particularly vis-a-vis the Holocaust, Bronfman said.


But things quickly fell apart.  Bronfman said on the very day the two aides met, Farrakhan was in Brooklyn and "compared Iraqi children to the children of the Holocaust."

"You'll also remember that we forcefully pointed out to Minister Farrakhan at that dinner that such references to the Holocaust were totally unacceptable to the Jewish community indeed we called such usage inflammatory," Bronfman wrote to Wallace.

"I was hoping, as were you, that Minister Farrakhan had been serious when he discussed with you ... creating a new era in relations between the Black Muslims and the Jews," Bronfman wrote.

"We now know that he cannot find it in his heart to renounce his own anti-Semitism.  That is rather sad."


In a letter to Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Bronfman wrote:

"Two things have become totally clear.  One is that what Farrakhan and his gang are after is money.  Number two, leopards don't change their spots, and this man is evil personified."

Citing Foxman's own refusal to meet with Farrakhan, Bronfman wrote, "Looking back, your position has been reinforced.  No self-respecting person, let alone a Jew, should have anything to do with him."

Bronfman's letters, on his stationery, are dated Nov. 4, about six months after the dinner.


The original from which the above excerpts were taken was published by the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California.

Concerning the above article, I had two reactions, which I will describe in the order in which they occurred:

My first reaction:
That you were dragging Jews into war
for INSUFFICIENT reasons

Consider that it seems an inadvisable political move to wage war against America's Blacks.  It is politically incorrect to do so, and there are a large number of them, and they have enormous economic and political clout.  Particularly as Jews sometimes live in close proximity to Blacks, any Jewish leader must try his utmost to get along with Blacks, and to not alienate them, and certainly to not turn them into mortal enemies.

However, the Greenberg article above portrays you as declaring political war on Louis Farrakhan by:

referring to him as "evil personified";

accusing him of being unable to "renounce his own anti-Semitism";

labelling his followers as a "gang" and impugning his motives as mercenary "what Farrakhan and his gang are after is money";

implying that he is governed by irrational and rigid motives "leopards don't change their spots"; and by

advocating a termination of all dialogue "No self-respecting person, let alone a Jew, should have anything to do with him."

Your reaction, then, is a strong one, but when one looks to see the Farrakhan provocation that occasioned it, one is struck by a lack of proportion.  The Farrakhan provocation is that he "compared Iraqi children to the children of the Holocaust."  That's it?  That's it!

It is unfortunate that before lashing out as you did, your advisors did not instruct you that many people would be unable to see any great crime in comparing Iraqi children killed to Jewish children killed.  After all, we don't have Louis Farrakhan's exact words, and so don't know exactly what his comparison entailed.  Perhaps Louis Farrakhan merely pointed out that although there are some differences between the two events, there are also some similarities and surely this cannot be disputed, as it is universally true that any two events share both similarities and differences.  The mere fact of making a comparison is not at all the same as claiming that the two events are indistinguishable.  Wouldn't concluding that fewer Iraqi than Jewish children had been killed be a comparison, and would that be a comparison that you think it prudent to view as a casus belli?

And thus, I initially viewed you as being governed by an overpowering arrogance to imagine that in gratitude for eating dinner in your apartment we aren't told of any other consideration that you had offered your guest handed over to you control of his language and his thought for all time.

According to my first impression, then, your attitude was so arrogant, so demanding of subservience, that it disqualified you for leadership.  A competent Jewish leader does not declare war on Louis Farrakhan because Farrakhan compares Iraqi children killed to Jewish children killed.  Any Jewish leader with the minimal diplomatic skills needed for leadership would have overlooked this trivial offense, if it is even that, or at most would have sent Louis Farrakhan a respectful and even amicable query concerning the incident.  A Jewish leader with requisite diplomatic skills recognizes that even if Louis Farrakhan does not represent all Blacks, it is possible that any unwarranted and intemperate attack upon him will alienate the majority of Blacks, and will heighten the conflict between Jews and Blacks.

My second reaction:
That you were dragging Jews into war
for PERSONAL reasons

But upon further reflection, I came to the realization that you did have a strong reason, an overpowering reason, for discrediting and isolating Louis Farrakhan.  Your reason was not the frivolous one of Louis Farrakhan making some comparison or other between the deaths of Iraqi and Jewish children.  Your reason, rather, was an urgent personal one that you were forced to conceal.  That reason was that Louis Farrakhan, or at least agents that seemed to be acting under the direction of Louis Farrakhan, were undermining your moral authority, and in fact were accusing you of something close to genocide.  In my letter to you of 31Mar00, I have already quoted the Nation of Islam statement in which this accusation against you is made; below, I reproduce a brief segment from this accusation to provide a contrast in the present letter between the smallness of any Farrakhan provocation against the Jewish people collectively and the weightiness of the Farrakhan accusation against you personally:

According to NIAAA the estimated cost of alcohol abuse was $70.3 billion in 1985 and an astounding $85.9 billion in 1988.  The loss of productivity, expenditures on medical treatment, premature deaths and broken families are incalculable.  As the largest purveyors of alcohol in the world, what part of this human tragedy can we attribute to the Bronfman liquor dynasty?
Taken from a pro Louis Farrakhan article on the Blacks and Jews web site, a copy of which has been placed on the Ukrainian Archive as well.

In attacking Louis Farrakhan, you were not merely attacking an individual, you were declaring war on Blacks collectively, because Blacks collectively possibly agree with Louis Farrakhan on the destructive effects that the alcohol industry has had on their people.

Thus, in declaring war by Jews against Blacks, you were not acting in the interests of the Jewish people, you were acting in your own interests and against the interests of the Jewish people.  It is not in the interests of the Jewish people to go to war against Blacks to protect their Jewish leader against the charge of having implemented the Seagram Holocaust.  It is not in the interests of Jews to compound their earlier error of electing an unfit leader with the later error of dragging Jews into a fight to protect that leader against the charge of unfitness.  It is not in Jewish interests to go to war to defend Edgar Bronfman Senior against the charge of having played a leading role in the Alcohol Holocaust.  Few Jews might agree with you that waging war against Blacks is a burden that they should have to bear for the sin of having elected a man to lead them whose chief accomplishment in life had been to make a great deal of money playing the role of Edgar the Terrible of Seagram.

What it all appears to boil down to is simply that Edgar Bronfman Senior has dedicated his life to making money selling alcohol, while Louis Farrakhan sees alcohol as contributing to the destruction of his people that is the difference between Edgar Bronfman Senior and Louis Farrakhan, and that is what makes them forever irreconcilable.

What it all appears to boil down to, to put it another way, is that you can't tolerate the disapproval against the chief accomplishment of your life of selling oceans of alcohol, a disapproval which may have pained you indelibly upon the occasion of your imbibing wine that Mike Wallace judged to be "good," while Louis Farrakhan and his wife looked on in total sobriety.

Weren't you disrespectful
to your dinner guests?

And finally, Mr. Bronfman, you must have known that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and his wife abstain from alcohol couldn't you as a sign of respect for Minister Farrakhan and for his wife and for his religion have abstained from drinking wine in his presence?  Wasn't your act provocative, as would have been (assuming the presence of meat in the dinner) Minister Farrakhan's reciprocal taking a sip of milk every time that you downed a slug of your wine?

Lubomyr Prytulak