Hip-hop pioneer arrives in Israel

Russell Simmons scheduled to promote Muslim and Jewish reconciliation during Israel visit.

RUSSELL SIMMONS 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
(photo credit: Reuters)
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.