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Friday, January 16, 2004

Boker Tov! Boulder welcomes hip-hop legend Russell Simmons to the fight against antisemitism

Hip hop mogul collaborates with rabbi to improve Jewish-African American relations
Haaretz: In a ground-breaking article to be published soon, hip-hop legend Russell Simmons will urge African-Americans to join forces with Jews, to fight anti-Semitism in Europe and the U.S.

Simmons, known for the "Phat Farm" clothes line in addition to his success with hip hop, is an admired role model for millions of American blacks. America's Jewish community cannot fight anti-Semitism on its own, Simmons says.

Jews and blacks have a long history of collaboration to advance social reform, especially during the civil rights struggle.

Simmons article was co-written with Rabbi Marc Schneier to mark this year's observances of Martin Luther King Day in America. The hip hop mogul and the rabbi have in the past worked together to improve Jewish-African American relations.

The new article is ground-breaking for being the first time an African American figure of Simmons' stature in popular culture has issued a denunciation of resurgent anti-Semitism. The article will be published this weekend in newspapers which reach Jewish and black readers across the U.S.

If Martin Luther King were alive today, the authors write, he would protest against the new wave of anti-Semitism. Nor would Martin Luther King keep quiet about the "moral laryngitis" of political leaders who fail to speak out against hatred of Jews.

Simmons and Schneier allude to a recent public opinion survey, which found that 77 percent of blacks and 73 percent of Jews in the U.S. believe that the two communities must collaborate together to promote civil rights.

Jewish leaders in New York who are acquainted with the upcoming article emphasize its influential, pioneering character. "The is the first time in years that such a central, popular figure among blacks in America, particularly among young people, has issued such a strong condemnation of anti-Semitism, and called for a renewal of the historical alliance between African Americans and Jews," these leaders said in a comment yesterday.
From strength to strength, Mr. Simmons!