JNS: ZOA President and Ice Cube Talk Antisemitism by Phone
July 28, 2020

Ice Cube had an almost-two-hour conversation with Zionist Organization of America national president Mort Klein following recent anti-Semitic tweets by the rapper and film actor.

Klein told JNS on Tuesday that a mutual friend, whom Klein declined to specifically name for privacy reasons, told him that Ice Cube (whose real name is O’Shea Jackson) didn’t like being “falsely accused of being anti-Semitic” as he was by many, including by Klein and ZOA. When asked by the mutual friend if he would talk to Ice Cube, Klein agreed and Ice Cube called the ZOA leader.

Klein told Ice Cube about growing up with black neighbors and friends, and his civil-rights activism in the 1960s and the mission of the ZOA.

“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,” tweeted the ZOA leader on Monday.

“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. I admire him for the advocacy of his people and look forward to talking more on how Black and Jewish communities can work together…,” tweeted Ice Cube on Tuesday.

In a July 14 column published by The Hollywood Reporter, Abdul-Jabbar wrote that the anti-Semitic posts made by Ice Cube and Philadelphia Eagles player DeSean Jackson were a “very troubling omen for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement” and decried the “shrug of meh-rage” in sports and in Hollywood.

In a tweet the following day, Ice Cube wrote, “Shame on the Hollywood Reporter who obviously gave my brother Kareem 30 pieces of silver to cut us down without even a phone call.”

On Monday, when confronted about his tweet slamming Jabbar for calling out the rapper for his anti-Semitic rhetoric, Ice Cube told Klein in their phone call, “I didn’t write it right,” recalled the ZOA leader, who went on to say that Ice Cube said, “I condemned him for including me with DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson and Nick Cannon … as one of the anti-Semites and I’m not an anti-Semite.”

Ice Cube said that Abdul-Jabar is a friend, and that he should have called him before writing his column, according to Klein.

“I’m not an anti-Semite. My manager of 25 years is a white Jew. I fired my black manager,” Klein recalled Ice Cube telling him. “I’ve been to Jewish, pro-Israel events.”

Later that day, Ice Cube tweeted, “Just for the record: I still love Kareem Abdul Jabbar, definitely had a right to write against Anti-Semitism and racism. I was just hurt to be added into that article without a conversation to tell him that I am neither. But there is no wedge between me and my brother.”

In response to the 73-year-old’s tweet about being on the phone with Ice Cube, a user named “Ron Loeb” replied to Klein, “Well Morty, seems like @icecube tells a gullible old man one thing he’ll believe, but tells something completely different to his millions of Twitter followers. You’ve been had, Morty. You’ve been had.”

The reply appears to have since been deleted.

“No matter how times I tell some people I hate Antisemitism and Racism they still wanna keep this narrative going for some strange reason,” tweeted Ice Cube in response to the since-deleted reply.

During their phone call, Klein confronted Ice Cube about posting a caricature of a group of white-skinned older men, some with large hooked noses, sitting around a Monopoly-like game board with a fully-bearded man counting dollar bills. The board is on top of bowed, naked backs of a group of mostly black men.

The caricature is identical to “anti-Semitic propaganda used by Hitler and the Nazis to whip up hatred that led to the massacre of millions of Jews. This extends to the table these figures are sat at, resting on human bodies, as the Nazis also depicted,” according to journalist and filmmaker Michael Segalov.

Klein said Ice Cube didn’t know that it was an anti-Semitic picture; he thought they were just “white guys.”

He also said that Ice Cube “wants to be allies” in fighting antisemitism —and even wanted to attend and buy a table at the next ZOA dinner.

“He couldn’t have been friendlier,” said Klein, who added that Ice Cube called again to say “he supports Israel as the Jewish state.”

The original article was published in JNS and can be found here.

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