Hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, who has admitted hyping the worth of the clothing line he founded to inflate its market value, is claiming now that ADL National Director Abraham Foxman "single-handedly caused millions of persons to flock to see the ‘Passion of Christ.’" His assertion came in a letter to Foxman in which he blasted the Jewish leader for being "misguided, arrogant and very disrespectful of African Americans" for his call to black leaders to disassociate themselves from the Minister Louis Farrakhan and his Millions More March on Oct. 15.
Such statements, Simmons said, "do nothing more than increase the polarization of relations between millions of African Americans and Jewish Americans. It is a sad commentary that your actions will only help to spread anti-Semitism rather than help to end it."
Simmons notes in the letter that he is chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a black-Jewish group he founded with Hamptons Rabbi Marc Schneier.
In a letter of reply, Foxman called the latter charge "outrageous." "It is the old blame-the-victim approach, which surprised me coming from someone who is aware of the nature of prejudice," he wrote. "Your gratuitous allusion to the Mel Gibson film was also inappropriate. There were legitimate questions as to the best way to approach the film, but you mention not a word about how the film in the most abhorrent manner reinforced the old and dangerous charge blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, as well as other anti-Jewish stereotypes."
Simmons in his letter claimed that Farrakhan has spent more than 50 years working to "resurrect the downtrodden masses of African Americans up out of poverty and self-destruction. A few days ago, I personally witnessed him affirm, ‘A Muslim cannot hate a Jew.’ But Foxman told Simmons that he ignored the ìvicious anti-Semitism of Minister Farrakhan" and wondered how he would "react had some white supremacist organized an event preaching tolerance."