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ADL lashes back at Russell Simmons remark at Jerusalem conference

Hip hop mogul, in Israel to promote dialogue, accuses Foxman of alienating blacks

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons kisses the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, 2012 (photo credit: Blake Sobczak/AP)
Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons kisses the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, 2012 (photo credit: Blake Sobczak/AP)

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a rebuke Thursday to comments made by the hip hop and fashion mogul Russell Simmons who said at the presidential conference in Israel that ADL leader Abraham Foxman “alienated blacks” in the same way Louis Farrakhan has antagonized the Jewish community.

The cofounder of the pioneering Def Jam Recordings record label was a participant in President Shimon Peres’s “Facing Tomorrow” conference, where he and Rabbi Marc Schneier participated in a panel discussion representing The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Simmons is known to admire the controversial leader of the African-American religious movement the Nation of Islam, having described him as his “second father”.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement from Jerusalem, where he was also participating in the conference: “We’ve heard this kind of doublespeak before, so it is not surprising to hear Russell Simmons once again making excuses for the polarizing anti-Semitic and racist speech of Louis Farrakhan. He’s been doing that for years.”

“What’s surprising is that Simmons did it in Jerusalem,” added Foxman. “What’s disappointing is that someone who has a history of having a blind spot to one of the most vociferous and ugly anti-Semites would be given a platform in Jerusalem. And what’s outrageous is how divisive and ugly his attack on us was.”

Foxman concluded his outraged response by saying “what’s shocking is that his colleague and partner, Rabbi Marc Schneier, stood by in silence. Where was his defense of this 100-year-old organization that has not only defended against anti-Semitism but has worked alongside the African-American community on some of the most important civil rights struggles in our nation’s history?  Shame on Simmons, and shame on Schneier.”

Simmons, invited to Israel by Peres, arrived on behalf of a foundation that aims to promote face-to-face dialogue between ethnic and religious communities. He discussed yoga with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmed Hussein, and received a blessing from the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz.

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