The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding has recently announced the launch of a campaign aimed at fighting anti-semitism. Titled “I am a Jew,” it is being spearheaded by Rabbi Marc Schneier and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. Said Simmons about the campaign:
Anti-Semitism is growing so quickly around the world… I want to do everything I can to fight it … People forget how quickly the world can change. I mean, it was only yesterday that [Jewish] people were being put in ovens.
Indeed. Simmons plans on recruiting A-List celebrities. Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyonce Knowles and possibly Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington, Richard Gere and more will be involved. Simmons has been honored by the UJA-Federation of New York, has worked with the Israeli Consulate in New York and has consulted for AIPAC. Simmons is all about rapprochement and in that respect has also had ties with Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. In 2001 he arranged a meeting between Rabbi Marc Schneier and Minister Farrakhan. Obviously the intent was to begin a dialogue between the vociferously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Minister Farrakhan and the Rabbi in the hopes of creating better understanding. Russell Simmons can hardly be said to be an ardent supporter of Minister Farrakhan.
But that’s not good enough for the highly paid Abraham Foxman of the Anti Defamation League. The ADL recently released a statement where they insisted Simmons immediately and publicly distance himself from Farrakhan. Good move Abe. Way to alienate a good friend.
The ADL’s actions in this case have been described as bizarre, and it has been noted that the “I am a Jew” campaign is similiar to the ADL’s 2004 “Anti-Semitism is me” campaign. Responding in the past to his association with Farrakhan, Simmons said “I have actively encouraged a dialogue between all of the leaders of the African-American and Jewish communities in hopes of improving relations.” Can’t we just leave it at that? Or do we really need Foxman to go apeshit every single time even a whiff of anti-semitism rears its ugly head. Shouldn’t we encourage the ADL to pick its battles a little better?
* Well Photoshopped photo of Leonardo courtesy of The Wandering Jew.