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A soul and kosher coalition

A few weeks ago, when I saw that weird anti-semitism PSA featuring Russell Simmons and, of course, Jay-Z[1], I knew something was up. I just wasn’t sure what.

To be sure, combating anti-semitism is a perfectly worthwhile cause. At the risk of sounding didactic, I’m gonna go ahead and put this out there: It’s wrong to hate Jews. Adolf Hitler = bad. Ice cream = good. No Pharrell.

That said, anti-semitism in the hip-hop community is hardly the most pressing issue in the Jewish diaspora, no? I can hardly think of a recent incident in which a rapper let anything like that slip in an interview. Did some Jews get beat up at a rap concert? Not that I know of.

Also, let’s keep it real: the Jews have a long and storied history of crying anti-semitism and invoking the name of Adolph Hitler whenever it’s politically expedient. No Mel Gibson. Take for example the recent incident when it was discovered Iran might have a nuke.

I should’ve known though that there was more to it than that. When I saw Rush’s most recent bizarre PSA, where he travels to the diamond mines of Africa, it all came together. The Jews have enlisted Russell Simmons to protect their interest in the diamond industry.

You’ll recall that a few weeks ago it was announced that Rush was creating a new program to educate Africans on how to better benefit from the diamond trade. Rather than dig up diamonds to be sent elsewhere to be refined, Africans would learn to refine them in their own backyard.

As it turns out, Rush’s new Diamond Empowerment Fund is sponsored, in a round about way, by DeBeers, the family that controls the bulk of the international diamond trade, and is part of a much larger PR campaign designed to discredit the new film Blood Diamond.

Damn, Rush.

Tuesday, the same day I did a story about the conflict diamonds issue, Rush and his estranged wife held a press conference in New York to announce that the diamond trade in Africa, as it turns out, really isn’t that bad after all.

According to Rush, “I have witnessed, firsthand, that diamonds can be, as they are in Botswana, the difference between extreme poverty and total stability.” Indeed, if it wasn’t for the diamond trade, there wouldn’t be much business going on in Botswana at all.

Was that ever the issue though? In the New York Times the other day, it was revealed that Africans are getting raped big time on the sale of these diamonds. They only get paid $15 for a diamond that would cost us (you) $5,000.

Will the Africans in Rush’s Diamond Empowerment Fund make any more money from diamonds than they would otherwise? Pshaw! Rush’s response to a reporter who put forth this question:

“No, I’ll answer him because I’m a business man and this gentleman obviously is not.” Simmons then countered that it takes about 25 cents to make a t-shirt you can sell for a $100. “Kimora can sell it for $500 or $600,” he added.

Wow. So in other words, the people in Africa don’t deserve to benefit from their own natural resources on the same level as Rush because they aren’t as good business people.

I swear, I’ve seen some sad shit in my life, but this about trumps everything.

***

[1] Can you believe the new Jay-Z video, supposedly a tribute to his dead nephew, includes paid product placement for some sort of new Maybach?

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