Russell Simmons Likens ADL’s National Director to Louis Farrakhan
Abe Foxman calls comparison “outrageous and ugly”
Russell Simmons appeared at the Israel Presidential Conference in Jerusalem this week with his Foundation for Ethnic Understanding co-founder, Rabbi Marc Schneier. During the conference, the hip-hop legend defended his friendship with the Nation of Islam leader, explaining that just as Farrakhan had alienated Jews, Abe Foxman has alienated African Americans.
This statement has obviously enraged the Anti-Defamation League national director.
“What’s surprising is that Simmons did it in Jerusalem,” Foxman began.
“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. And, finally, what’s shocking is that his colleague and partner, Rabbi Marc Schneier, stood by in silence,” Foxman concluded.
While speaking with JTA, Rabbi Schneier explained that Simmons was “winking” while making the comment, and the audience understands it was in “jest”.
“I find it sad that Abe would expend so much time and energy attacking Russell Simmons, who is one of the greatest friends of the Jewish people and a tireless advocate for the state of Israel,” the Rabbi said.
In the past, Foxman has praised the Def Jam founder for his work and outreach between Jews and African Americans, but has also expressed concern with Simmons’ praise of Farrakhan. Rabbi Schneier also expressed that he has “profound disagreements” with Simmons over Farrakhan, but understands that the goal of their joint organization to facilitate such disagreements.
Simmons and Schneier were in Israel to not only attend the conference, but also to bring their mosque-synagogue twinning project to the country. This annual project, brining together Muslim and Jewish faith, was originally launched in the U.S but now occurs in various countries.