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Mort Klein and Ice Cube talk anti-Semitism and racism in two-hour conversation

Morton Klein, leader of the conservative Zionist Organization of America, has spoken with rapper Ice Cube about issues of racism and anti-Semitism.

“I, Mort Klein, just had a 2 hour conversation with Ice Cube. We both grew up poor in Black hoods. Cube told me he thanked Jews for starting NAACP, many Black schools & fighting for Black civil rights.Cube told me he supports condemning Black&all antisemitism & I condemned all racism,” Klein tweeted on Monday night. He did not provide any more details about the conversation or specify what actions either party might take as a result.

The NAACP was founded by an interracial coalition that included some Jews.

In recent weeks, Ice Cube has faced backlash for several social media posts seen as anti-Semitic. In early June, the rapper tweeted an image of a London mural that shows a number of men with stereotypically Jewish features playing Monopoly on the backs of Black and brown people. (The mural has been removed because of allegations of anti-Semitism). In the next week, he posted several memes promoting conspiracy theories about Jews.

In July, when former basketball player and Hollywood Reporter columnist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar published a column calling out anti-Semitism in sports and Hollywood that made reference to Ice Cube, the rapper accused Abdul-Jabbar of taking “30 pieces of silver” to criticize him. The phrase is a reference to Judas, the disciple said to have betrayed Jesus.

For his part, Klein has also faced allegations of racism. In April, when Dianne Lob, the former head of HIAS, was tapped to lead the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Klein campaigned to block the nomination because HIAS helps resettle Muslim refugees. As protests against police violence swept the nation in June, Klein tweeted that the Black Lives Matter movement is a “Jew hating, White hating, Israel hating, conservative Black hating, violence promoting, dangerous Soros funded extremist group of haters.”

The Zionist Organization of America, once seen as a right-wing fringe group, has been bolstered by the financial support of Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul who donates generously to Republicans and far-right causes.

Klein and Ice Cube’s meeting comes on the heels of several high-profile conversations between Jewish leaders and celebrities who have made anti-Semitic remarks.

Ice Cube tweeted on Tuesday that the conversation was productive. “Shout out to Mort Klein who had the courage to seek the truth and speak with me and see for himself I am obviously NOT an anti-Semite or racist,” he wrote. “I admire him for the advocacy of his people and look forward to talking more on how Black and Jewish communities can work together.”

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

Mort Klein and Ice Cube talk anti-Semitism and racism

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