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Jackson Says Lyrics Not Meant To Offend Jews

June 15, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ A song on Michael Jackson’s new album uses an anti-Jewish slur word, but Jackson says he only wants to highlight the ``pain of prejudice.″

``Jew me, sue me, everybody do me’ and ``Kick me, kike me, don’t you black or white me,″ Jackson sings on the song ``They Don’t Care About Us.″

Asked about the lyrics in an interview Wednesday night on ABC’s ``Prime Time Live,″ Jackson said the song was a symbolic reference to victims of prejudice.

``It’s not anti-Semitic because I’m not a racist,″ he said to interviewer Diane Sawyer. ``I could never be a racist. I love all races.″

``My accountants and lawyers are Jewish. My three best friends are Jewish _ David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg,″ Jackson said. The three are partners in the DreamWorks studio.

``These are friends of mine,″ he said. ``They’re all Jewish. How does this make sense?″

In a statement earlier Wednesday to The New York Times, Jackson said he was ``angry and outraged″ the lyrics ``could be so misinterpreted.″

``The song in fact is about the pain of prejudice and hate and is a way to draw attention to social and political problems,″ Jackson said. ``I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone.″

Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he doesn’t consider Jackson a bigot, ``but the fact of the matter is that the choice of those words can be misinterpreted and I wish he would not have used those words.″

The controversy comes amid the intense promotional campaign for Jackson’s new album, ``HIStory Past, Present and Future Book 1,″ due out Tuesday.

Asked about the lyrics, Jackson’s manager, Sandy Gallin, said they should be taken in context.

``When I heard those lyrics, I thought they were brilliant,″ Gallin said. ``He’s saying, stop labeling people, stop degrading people, stop calling them names.″

Melani Rogers, a spokesman for Sony’s Epic label, which is releasing the album, also said the song ``is a statement against prejudice of any kind.″

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