Russell Simmons, right.
Russell Simmons, right. Photo by Bloomberg
Text size

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons on Saturday sent out a tweet to his more than 3 million followers in which he lamented the death of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, only to retract it later, saying he had confused Sharon with President Shimon Peres.

Simmons' original tweet read, "R.I.P. my friend Ariel Sharon great pleasure working with you..special occasions your work to promote tolerance was inspiring."

Shortly afterward, after being criticized by some followers and realizing he had confused the two Israeli leaders, the Def Jam Records founder retracted his comment, tweeting, "on stair master…a little light headed. confused ariel sharon with longtime friend, shimon peres. sadly sharon promoted war, not peace." The original tweet and responses to it have since been deleted from his Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning Israel time, Simmons was tweeting about the work he has done for the Foundation of Ethnic Understanding, which works to promote Muslim-Jewish relations and Black-Jewish relations.

Among his latest tweets, he wrote "Very proud of the work, as Chairman of @FFEUny, we do around the world to promote a more peaceful relationship between Muslims and Jews..." and also recalled his 2012 trip to Israel, where "I met with chief rabbi of Israel and grand mufti of Palestinian ppl, we launched 20 programs for @FFEUny."

Simmons also mentioned his speech at the 2012 Peres Presidential Conference, where he wrote, "I spoke at Shimon Peres' conference in Israel about our work at the @FFEUny to bring Jews and Muslims together in peace."

His remarks at that conference also drew fire, though, after he accused Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman of having "alienated blacks" in the same way Louis Farrakhan has antagonized the Jewish community.

"We've heard this kind of doublespeak before, so it is not surprising to hear Russell Simmons once again making excuses for the polarizing anti-Semitic and racist speech of Louis Farrakhan," an ADL statement issued at the time read. "He's been doing that for years.

"What's surprising is that Simmons did it in Jerusalem. What's disappointing is that someone who has a history of having a blind spot to one of the most vociferous and ugly anti-Semites would be given a platform in Jerusalem. And what's outrageous is how divisive and ugly his attack on us was."