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Muhammad Ali, Stinging Us Like A Bee

muhammad-aliYesterday was boxer Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday, and thanks to the JTA, I’ve discovered that he’s been no fan of the Jews or Israel during his life.

Exhibit A:

Cassius Clay’s triumphant comeback victory Monday night in Atlanta, after 43 months away from the boxing ring on draft-evasion charges, brought not only his fists but his pro-Arab views back to national and international attention. Asked by a New York Times reporter after the fight about a subsequent contest with heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, Clay replied: “To those who might want it, the fight will come. All those Jewish promoters–they’ll see that it comes off.” The reporter said the athlete smiled as he said it. Boxing insiders remarked today that Clay was insulting “the guys who went to bat for him”–specifically Harry Markson, the boxing director of Madison Square Garden in New York, and Sam Massell, the mayor of Atlanta. Observers noted that Clay, who prefers to be known by his Muslim name as Muhammad Ali, has a long record of sympathy to Arab causes, expressed in part by his spending his second honeymoon several years ago on a tour of Arab nations and being photographed with Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. It was recalled, in this connection, that on the death of President Nasser the Muslim newspaper, “Muhammad Speaks,” front-page a warm tribute to the departed Arab by the sect’s leader, Elijah Muhammad.

Exhibit B:

Muhammad Ali, who says he is retiring from the ring to spread the faith of Islam, is losing no time throwing right hooks at Zionism. He told a press conference in Beirut, at the start of a tour of the Middle East, that “the United States is the stronghold of Zionism and imperialism.” On a visit later to two Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon, the former heavy-weight boxing champion was quoted by a guerrilla news agency as saying: “In my name and the name of all Muslims in America, I declare support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders.” Ali told newsmen that after retiring from the ring he will devote his life to preaching the Moslem faith, beginning by establishing a mosque in Las Vegas. Uncharacteristically modest, he added: “I am no longer the greatest. Allah is.”

Exhibit C:

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mohammed Ali charged Zionists “control” America and the world, according to an interview reported in a leading publication in India, the text of which the Jewish Telegraphic Agency obtained.

Ali had been in India and in Africa as President Carter’s special emissary to obtain support for the Carter Administration’s boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow this summer as part of the United States response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In the bi-weekly, “India Today,” dated Feb. 1-15, Ali spoke of Zionists when asked about the “militant revival” of Islam in Iran, and the holding of “your countrymen hostage.” Ali, saying that “those people in Iran are fanatics,” and that “the other Moslems in the world have condemned their action,” declared “religion ain’t bad; it’s people who are bad. You know the entire power structure is Zionist. They control America; they control the world. They are really against the Islam religion. So whenever a Muslim does something wrong, they blames the religion.”

An Associated Press dispatch, reporting Ali’s remarks about Zionism, quoted him as saying that he did not remember talking about Zionists.

Exhibit D:

The 700-odd Shiite Moslem prisoners in the Atlit detention camp have a real champion. He is Muhammad Ali, who held the world heavyweight boxing title from 1964-67 and 1974-78.

Ali arrived in Israel today “to arrange for the freeing of the Muslim brothers imprisoned by Israel.” He said he would be discussing the release of “all 700 brothers” with the “very highest level in the country.”

But Israeli officials have politely declined to enter the ring. Israel does not intend to negotiate through boxing champion Muhammad Ali but will welcome him warmly as a private guest, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

He said certain preparations have been made to make Ali’s stay in the country as pleasant as possible but did not elaborate. The former champ is expected to be received by Deputy Foreign Minister Ronnie Milo, a Likud MK, but no other official meetings have been scheduled for him.

Asked at the airport if he would also try to obtain the release of the American hostages held by Shiites in Beirut, Ali replied, “I didn’t come here for that.”

On the other hand

Muhammad Ali may come to Israel for a visit, the world heavyweight boxing champion said in a telephone conversation with a film agent who is distributing the motion picture dealing with Ali’s life. “I Am the Greatest of All.” Ali said he has many friends and followers in Israel and may conic here after visiting Khartoum and Istanbul in a few months

And..

“We’re here to honor a short Jew,” said “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander to open a gag-filled evening with a serious purpose.

The vertically challenged honoree was Hollywood star Billy Crystal, who, surrounded by fellow Hollywood stars and close to 900 fans, accepted the National Scopus Award of the American Friends of the Hebrew University.

—-

In a long, applause-filled evening, the biggest hands went to three participants: Helen Greenfield, Crystal’s mother, who gave the Motzi, the blessing of the bread, over a giant-sized challah; boxing great Muhammad Ali, Crystal’s personal hero, who served as honorary chairman of the event; and Kirk Douglas, the veteran actor and former Scopus recipient, recently slowed by a stroke, who conferred the Scopus Award on Crystal.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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