Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons has reportedly called for a truce after catching heat earlier this month when he compared Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman to Nation of Islam leader Minister Farrakhan.
Simmons released a statement and said his comments were misinterpreted last week in Israel.
“My statements at the Presidents Conference were not meant to compare Abe Foxman to Minister Farrakhan, as some in the press liked to note,” Simmons wrote. “They were meant to point out the kind of results you get from the public attacks of many African-American leaders by Abe over the years, namely that these attacks have alienated millions of blacks. Many black people around the country believe that when Abe attacks their leaders, it is an attack by the Jewish community on them as well. This type of behavior stings for a long time.” (Statement)
He also discussed his time overseas and with fellow Foundation for Ethnic Understanding co-founder Rabbi Marc Schneier.
“Rabbi Marc Schneier and I had a remarkable week in Israel where we met and convened with some of the most important religious leaders in the country, including the Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Grand Mufti of the Palestinian people,” Simmons wrote. “We had difficult conversations that have not happened before, and we are determined to break through barriers that have been in existence for decades.” (Statement)
Schneier also stood by Simmons’ side and downplayed the heated topic.
Schneier, in an interview with JTA said Simmons, the founder of the Def Jam hip-hop label, was “winking” when he said it, and that it was in “jest,” which the audience understood. “I find it sad that Abe would expend so much time and energy in attacking Russell Simmons, who is one of the greatest friends of the Jewish people and a tireless advocate of the state of Israel,” he said. Schneier said he had “profound disagreements” with Farrakhan, but also that it was the objective of his foundation to engage with people who have such disagreements. (Jewish Journal)
Foxman publicly blasted the music mogul after his Farrakhan remarks last week.
Foxman has publicly praised Simmons for his outreach work between African Americans and Jews, but also has faulted him for his praise of Farrakhan, who has likened Judaism to a “gutter religion” and for years has peddled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. “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,” Foxman said last week in a statement. “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.”? (Haaretz)