Michael Jackson won't be rewriting "HIStory," but the pop star will rerecord two controversial passages in "They Don't Care About Us," a song about intolerance that in\cluded ethnic slurs. He will also in\clude a written apology on any re\cords that have been manufactured but not yet shipped.

Jackson was criticized by Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, over the lyrics to the song, which he said were intended to be a protest against prejudice and all forms of hatred. Jackson said he will replace the phrase "Jew me, sue me," with "do me, sue me," and "kick me, kike me" with "kick me, strike me."

In a call this week to Variety columnist Army Archerd, Jackson said he would return to the studio next week to record a new version of "They Don't Care About Us." Archerd quoted Jackson as saying, "I thought of, first, muffling them, but that would make them {those words} even more noticeable. So I'm going all the way to take them out."

Jackson confirmed the alterations in a statement issued yesterday, reiterating that "my sole intention . . . was to use language to demonstrate the ugliness of racism, antisemitism and stereotyping. I had hoped that my lyrics would target the bigots, not the victims of bigotry. {In rerecording the song} I acknowledge that I seriously offended some people, which was never my intention. . . . I have come to understand over the past days that these words are considered antisemitic. . . . I now realize that all words have power especially when they are chosen to make a statement. I sincerely hope that anyone offended by my words will forgive me for not recognizing this sooner."

"This is the action that should have been taken from the very beginning," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Calling it "a real closure on the issue," Hier said the incident offered important lessons: "the slow realization that Michael Jackson's interpretation of the song was not the world's interpretation of the song and that an artist cannot have the platform alone to interpret what his song means in the face of obvious slurs that are offensive to an ethnic group."

Jackson's move comes two days after his first album in four years, "HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book 1," went on sale. The more than 2 million copies that have already been shipped nationwide will not be recalled or altered. Jackson agreed to add a written apology, similar to his statement, to unshipped copies of "HIStory."

It will read in part: "I just want you all to know how strongly I am committed to tolerance, peace and love, and I apologize to anyone who might have been hurt."

In a previous column, Archerd had criticized Jackson for "the damage he was doing to the tolerance that he said he was preaching -- by putting those words back into common conversation." Archerd writes that Jackson, in his phone call, said he "didn't realize what I was doing" and that after a visit to the Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, he had "cried for weeks."

It was Rabbi Hier who conducted Jackson's private tour of the Museum of Tolerance in February of 1993, two days before it opened to the public. "He was literally emotionally drained by the experience and crying at many of the exhibits, particularly in the Holocaust section when survivors told what had happened to the children."

Rabbi Hier, noting that Jackson had called him last Thursday to apologize and explain his intentions, was particularly critical of Jackson's advisers. "They should exercise the responsibility that goes with being an adviser: If they saw the lyrics and knew, as they should know, that sue me, Jew me' and kick me, kike me' are not going to pass muster, they should have had the guts to say to Michael, This is not going to fly and we're not going to put it out.' There's a legitimate question as to why they would hold back."

Jackson's manager, Sandy Gallin, was one of those people who heard the record. Gallin told the Los Angeles Times that even though he is Jewish, he did not realize the ramifications of the slur.

"I personally had no idea. It has not been in use for many, many years, and was not something that children would recognize as racism. The mere usage of the word, of bringing it back, is the essence of where the mistake was," Gallin said. CAPTION: Jackson: "I sincerely hope that anyone offended by my words will forgive me for not recognizing this sooner."