Rabbi Michael Lerner gave a powerful, inspiring and brave speech at Muhammad Ali's funeral


Muhammad Ali's funeral was planned in great detail by Ali himself before his death. It was to be an interfaith event showcasing the best of humanity, shown live across TV networks and the internet.

One of the more rousing speeches given at the memorial service came from Rabbi Michael Lerner, a comrade of Ali's who was arrested with him in the 60s for refusing to fight in Vietnam.

The Rabbi offered support to the Muslim community, blasted the architects of mass incarceration and offered a few suggestions to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a nine-minute speech Fox News decided to cut to a commercial break 30 seconds into.

Those in attendance stood and applauded at various points throughout the speech, including former president Bill Clinton.

Here's a slightly shortened version of what the Rabbi said:

"I come here speaking as a representative of American Jews and to say that American Jews have played an important role in the struggles of African Americans in this country, and that we today stand in solidarity with the Islamic community in this country and all around the world.

"We will not tolerate politicians, or anyone else, putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people. We know what it's like to be demeaned, we know what it's like to have a few people who act against the highest visions of our tradition, to then be identified as the value of the entire tradition.

"One of the reasons that we at Tikkun Magazine have called upon the United States to stand up to the part of the Israeli government that is oppressing Palestinians, is that we as Jews understand that our commitment is to recognise that god has created everyone in god's image, and that everyone is equally precious. And that means the Palestinian people as well as all other people on the planet.

"So I want to say, how do we honour Muhammad Ali? And the answer is the way to honour Muhammad Ali is to be Muhammad Ali today. That means us, everyone here and everyone listening. It's up to us to continue that ability to speak truth to power.

Spectators cheer after Rabbi Michael Lerner's speech during Muhammad Ali's memorial service
(David Goldman/AP)

"We must speak out. Refuse to follow the path of conformity to the rules of the game in life. We must refuse to follow the path of conformity. Tell the 1% who own 80% of the wealth in this country that it's time to share that wealth.

"Tell the politicians, who use violence worldwide and then preach non-violence to the oppressed, that it's time for them to end their drone warfare and every other form of warfare. To close our bases around the world, to bring the troops home.

"Tell those who created mass incarceration that it's time to create a guaranteed income for everyone in our society. Tell judges to let out of prison the many African Americans swept up by racist police and imprisoned by racist judges. Many of them are in prison today for offences like possessing marijuana, that white people get away with all the time.

"Tell our elected officials to imprison those who authorise torture and those who ran the big banks and investment companies that caused the economic collapse of 2008. Tell the leaders of Turkey to stop killing the Kurds. Tell Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that the way to get security for Israel is to stop the occupation of the West Bank and help create a Palestinian state.

Members of the U.S. Army of the Pennsylvania National Guard arrival by plane at a airport in Vilnius
(Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

"Tell the next president of the United States that she should seek a constitutional amendment to make all national and state elections funded by congress and the state legislators - and all other sources of money be banned, including money from corporations, from individuals. Make it all public funding.

"Tell her that the way to achieve homeland security is not for us to try new ways of domination - the strategy of domination of the other to get security has been tried for the past 10,000 years and it doesn't work. The way to get security is for the United States to become known as the most generous and caring country in the world, not the most powerful.

"As chair of the interfaith network of spiritual progressives, I want to affirm our commitment to the wellbeing of all Muslims on this planet, as well as people of all faiths and secular humanists as well. We wish to pay honour to the Muslims of the world as they today continue the fast of Ramadan and join with them in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Muhammad Ali - a great fighter for justice and peace.

"Peace be upon him, peace be upon the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon all of humanity, and peace on all of us. Amen."