Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia said Aug. 2 that it is “extremely disappointed” in the NAACP for not removing its local leader, Minister Rodney Muhammad, who posted a since-removed anti-Semitic meme on his public Facebook page last month.
“While Mr. Muhammad still has yet to fully apologize for his most recent actions, an examination of the social media channels maintained by him and the mosque he leads shows an alarming amount of bigoted and anti-Jewish sentiments,” reads a statement released by Jewish Federation. “While we are willing to engage in dialogue with NAACP national president Derrick Johnson, the Pennsylvania Conference and other local NAACP chapters, our obligation to oppose hate and discrimination will prevent us from working with the Philadelphia chapter while Mr. Muhammad is employed there.”
Muhammad, 68, is a prominent civil rights figure and Nation of Islam leader with ties to the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Mosque 12 on North Broad Street.
Muhammad released a statement, his second since the uproar began, on July 30, saying, “I do regret the insult, pain and offense it caused to all, particularly those of the Jewish community by this unfortunate episode. Our aim now is to engage in thoughtful, meaningful and we hope productive dialogue between our communities.”
On July 31 the national NAACP sent a statement to some media outlets about Muhammad’s post.
“On July 24th, Mr. Rodney Muhammad, Branch President of NAACP Philadelphia, posted a meme on Facebook, which unbeknownst to him, has a history of anti-Semitic propaganda. Upon realizing his mistake, he immediately took down the post, as well as the associated caption. He also publicly acknowledged and apologized for his error in judgment,” the statement said. “The NAACP, Pennsylvania State Conference, and Philadelphia Branch unequivocally denounce and condemn all anti-Semitic language and images and stand against all forms of hate speech. While Mr. Muhammad now recognizes the offensive nature of the imagery and post, we are saddened and deeply disappointed by the harm caused by Mr. Muhammad’s actions. Hate speech has no place at the NAACP, and such language and imagery are reprehensible.”
The statement also said that in the coming weeks, Johnson and Muhammad “will meet with community leaders and faith leaders to open a dialogue and continue the educational conversations needed to strengthen our communities” and launch a series of national conversations in partnership with Jewish organizations. The national leadership did not return the Exponent’s request for comment.
The meme Muhammad posted included a caricature frequently used by white supremacists called “the Happy Merchant,” depicting a hook-nosed man in a yarmulke rubbing his hands together. The offensive caricature was posted alongside photos of Ice Cube, the Philadelphia Eagles’ DeSean Jackson and Nick Cannon, who all recently posted anti-Semitic comments on social media. Beneath their photos, there was a quote — “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” — misattributed to French philosopher Voltaire. PJC