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DAVID BRINN \
Hip-hop pioneer arrives in Israel
RUSSELL SIMMONS 370.
One of the US music industry’s most successful moguls, Russell Simmons, has
arrived in Israel for his first visit, in an effort to promote Muslim and Jewish
reconciliation.Simmons, who was named by USA Today as one of the most 25
influential people of the past 25 years, is chairman of The Foundation for
Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), the organization founded in 1989 by US Rabbi Marc
Schneier who serves as its president. Simmons and Schneier are in the country as
guests of President Shimon Peres and will attend the Facing Tomorrow
Presidential Conference beginning on Tuesday in Jerusalem.“Cooperation
between the Muslim and Jewish communities is an imperative and will create a
better tomorrow for all the children in this region,” Simmons said in a
statement. “I warmly welcome the opportunity to meet the people on the ground
committed to making the difference in promoting peace and conversation between
Muslims and Jews.”Upon his arrival in the country on Monday, Simmons
tweeted: “Arrived in isreal [sic]. Historic Meeting w/ imams and rabbis who will
be participating in twinning programs (exchanging pulpits).”During the
day, he toured the Mahane Yehuda shuk and met with Jerusalem Mayor Nir
Barkat.Before his trip, Simmons wrote in a blog posting, “For the past
five years, FFEU’s Weekend of Twinning has joined together imams and rabbis and
their congregants in synagogues and mosques around the world.“Learning
about the other” and sharing commonalities and eventually working together in
their respective Muslim and Jewish communities is always the ultimate objective.
Now is the time for this divine work to be done on the ground in Israel. Muslims
and Jews must ready themselves for when peace comes to the region. Imams and
rabbis in synagogues and mosques throughout the area must open their doors to
greet their neighbors. After all, we are all brothers of the same patriarch
Abraham and our family must learn to trust each other and live in peace and
harmony.”Schneier, the vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said
in a statement that the trip would be an important step forward in educating the
global audience of the importance of interreligious dialogue.“Russell is
a passionate ambassador of hope who recognizes that global peace requires new
and increasingly innovative approaches, and we know that his voice of moderation
will now be heard by people all over the world.”Simmons and Rick Rubin
founded the pioneering hiphop label Def Jam, and he has also created the
clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture and American Classics. He
reportedly has a net worth of $340 million.
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