NEW YORK, April 16 -- Minister Louis Farrakhan, the controversial Nation of Islam leader often accused of anti-Semitism, may be part Jewish. In an interview in the New Yorker to be published Monday, Farrakhan revealed that he thinks his father's ancestors may have been Portuguese Jews. Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott, the son of immigrants from Barbados and Jamaica. His father was light-skinned and had straight hair. Farrakhan's mother told him that his father's father was a white Portuguese. 'I'm going to tell you something,' Farrakhan said. 'You really want to know what I think? I think they were members of the Jewish community.' Orlando Patterson, a historical sociologist at Harvard who has studied West Indian migration patterns, told the New Yorker that nearly all persons of Iberian origin in Barbados and Jamaica are of Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Farrakhan professes to admire Jews, Gates said. But, also said he believed there was a group of Jews who plan the nation's course. 'I believe that there are very, very wise Jews who plan good, and there are very wise Jews who plan evil.' He adds, 'I am not hateful. I am deeply respectful of the Jewish people, man. I know they are great but I also know some scoundrels among them. And those scoundrels have to be condemned by them, And if they don't condemn the scoundrels, that's all right, I will.' Gates said Farrakhan's anti-Semitism 'has the characteristics of a psychological obsession, and once in a while he shows signs of recognizing this.'
In the interview, Farrakhan admits, 'I would prefer that this whole conflict would go away, in truth. But it's like I'm locked now in a struggle.' His feelings towards whites appear to have softened, Gates said. Farrakhan. said he had an epiphany about the waning of white supremacy at a Lionel Ritchie concert. 'I see something happening in America,' he said. 'You go into white folks' homes, and you see Michael Jackson on the wall, you see Michael Jordan on the wall, you see Hank Aaron on the wall. Their children are being influenced by black faces.'