Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons has been taken to task by Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Foxman has issued a statement reacting angrily to Simmons’ comparison of Foxman to Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.
Representing The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding at the “Facing Tomorrow Conference” in Israel, which he was attending with Rabbi Marc Schneier, the foundation’s president, Simmons accused Foxman of having “alienated blacks,” likening Foxman’s actions to the way Farrakhan treats the Jewish community. Foxman called the statements “divisive and ugly,” expressing his disappointment that Schneier would not speak up against Simmons’ “making excuses for the polarizing anti-Semitic and racist speech” of Farrakhan, further insisting that the ADL “has worked alongside the African-American community” on civil rights issues through the years.
Simmons, who was invited by Israel’s Prime Minister Shimon Peres, is Chairman of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and has been a vocal supporter of Louis Farrakhan in the past. Though no longer particularly active in the hip hop world, Simmons continues to maintain several foundations, entertainment and website properties.
UPDATE: Russell Simmons responds