Fighting old-fashioned anti-Semitism the hip-hop way

Rapper Jay-Z and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons will star in ads to combat 'the oldest hatred.'

jayz (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Anti-Semitism might be the oldest hatred, but on Sunday it will be combatted by something entirely modern: two of America's hippest music stars and a cutting-edge technology. Rapper-turned-record executive Jay-Z and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons will be starring in public service announcements throughout the United States, Europe and South America aimed at reducing anti-Semitism. They will ask viewers, "What's hot? Respect for people. What's not hot? Hating people for their color or religion." And they will explain that "anti-Semitism is a long word for racism." Using the new Voxonic technology, they will be heard speaking in French, German, Russian and Spanish depending on the country. Simmons, who chairs the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, initiated the ad campaign in coordination with the foundation's president, Rabbi Marc Schneier. The latter will be presenting the campaign Sunday at the World Jewish Congress Board of Governors meeting in Paris, where he will be looking for local Jewish communities to help get the ads broadcast in their hometowns. He said the spots were due to start showing nationally in the US in January, to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Time/Warner has donated $10 million in air time. Schneier said the announcements in the US are mostly aimed at raising awareness, while those in Europe are intended to fight the rising anti-Semitism of the past few years. He said the ad campaign's efficacy would be tremendously enhanced by the star power of Simmons and Jay-Z. "It's a whole different ball game when you have two African-Americans [who] are considered demigods," he said. The foundation focuses on fostering positive relations among racial and ethnic groups, which, Schneier said, was particularly important for Jews. "We cannot fight our battles alone. We cannot do it. And these ads are a manifestation of that," he said.