US Rabbi Michael Lerner, a political activist who opposed US involvement in the Vietnam War, condemned Donald Trump of Friday while speaking at the funeral of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.
Lerner criticized the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for proposing to ban Muslims from entering the United States. “We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people,” he said in a veiled reference to Trump. The rabbi said he formed a friendship with Muhammad Ali in the 1960s, when both were indicted by the US government for “our stands against the immoral war in Vietnam.” “There was something about Muhammad Ali that was different,” Lerner said. “At the key moment when he had that recognition [as a boxer], he used it to stand up to an immoral war and say, ‘No, I won’t go.’”
Lerner opened his remarks by saying he attended the service as “a representative of American Jews,” and expressed his solidarity with Islamic communities around the world.
During his remarks, Lerner also spoke about income inequality, drone attacks, torture, mass incarceration and money in politics.
Though they did not keep in contact since 1995, Ali’s family invited the rabbi to speak at the memorial.
Thousands of people gathered on Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, to attend the funeral of the African American boxing legend.
Ali, who converted to Islam in 1960 at the age of 18, died a week ago at age 74 as one of the most respected men in the United States.
He was one of the most celebrated athletes of the 20th century, lost three years of his boxing career for refusing US military service during the Vietnam War.
He had millions of admirers around the world for advocating racial equality and for his defense of Islam.
A three-time world heavyweight champion, he was a role model for African Americans as well as American Muslims.
Ali was known for his highly unusual fighting style which involved dazzling speed, lightning-fast reflexes and constant movement around his opponents.
In 1967, Ali refused to be inducted into the US military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War.