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Ice Cube and Cautiously Accepting the Change of Direction of Those Previously Espousing Antisemitic Views

Earlier this year, rapper and actor Ice Cube tweeted some vile, antisemitic things. He then responded to an admonition from basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar with more of the same.

It was not a good look.

Then something unexpected happened. He struck up an unlikely friendship with ZOA president Morton Klein after the latter spoke to him about the incident and the hurt he had caused.

As JTA reported at the time

Mort Klein didn’t know much about Ice Cube when he got on the phone with him on Monday afternoon, but by the end of their two-hour conversation, Klein said he was convinced the rapper was not anti-Semitic.

In fact, the president of the right-wing Zionist Organization of America said, the rapper had invited Klein and his wife to dinner — once the pandemic is over.

“He called me Mort,” Klein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “He told me to call him Cube.”

“Cube told me he supports condemning Black&all antisemitism& I condemned all racism,” he wrote in a tweet describing the conversation.

The pair also did not share a recording, as others have done. But Ice Cube acknowledged the conversation in a tweet Tuesday in which he praised Klein for his advocacy.

Going into the call, Klein did not know the extent of Ice Cube’s support for Farrakhan, including in some recent tweets.

Told late Monday about a Twitter exchange last month in which the rapper told Jake Tapper to “watch your mouth” after the CNN anchor tweeted about Farrakhan’s propensity for hate speech, Klein said he would ask Ice Cube about it.

“That’s troubling,” Klein said. “Please send that to me, I’m not aware of this.”

By Tuesday morning, he spoke with the rapper again. Klein said Ice Cube told him “he deeply regrets putting that out” and that he admitted to wrongly ignoring Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism because of his support for Farrakhan’s message of Black self-reliance. But Klein said he would not be satisfied until Ice Cube put out a statement condemning Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, which he hoped would happen.

On the earlier call, Klein said, the two discussed Farrakhan in broad terms in addition to criticism the rapper has faced for tweeting other anti-Semitic messages and images. In June, the rapper tweeted a picture of a mural showing a group of white men with large noses sitting around a card table held up by Black men. The mural was removed after critics accused the artist of depicting the men at the table with stereotypically anti-Semitic features. Klein said Ice Cube told him he hadn’t realized the mural was anti-Semitic.

“All he said is I’m not a Farrakhan follower and I don’t support any of this,” Klein said.

Klein said Ice Cube appreciated a story he told about how he had been a decent athlete in the Black neighborhood of his youth, but when he moved to a white Jewish neighborhood he became an “outstanding” one.

Klein said he told Ice Cube about the “horrible” Black Lives Matter platform, referring to the 2016 platform by the Movement for Black Lives, an activist group represents some groups but not the entire Black Lives Matter movement. Some Jewish groups have described the platform as anti-Semitic for accusing Israel of genocide and apartheid. Klein said Ice Cube had agreed that the platform was “terrible,” though the rapper has repeatedly tweeted his support for the movement.

While the rapper’s long affinity for Farrakhan disturbed Klein, he said he believes Ice Cube is sincere in his condemnation of anti-Semitism. He even told Klein that he supports the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, which excited the right-wing Zionist.

“He’s not everything I would want him to be,” Klein said. “But he’s moving in that direction.”

Now Ice Cube is set to headline the annual gala of the Zionist Organization of America in a few weeks.

Is Ice Cube truly remorseful of his antisemitic tweets? Only time will tell, but there is no denying he has publicly stepped away from his previous, antisemitic tweets and is going out on a limb with his friendship with Morton Klein. I am not naïve enough to think there is not still work to do, but I believe in repentance. Not only is it a Jewish value, but I have seen it work with my own two eyes.

Furthermore, I believe cautiously accepting his “change of heart”, instead of claiming he is insincere, could lead to a valuable alliance and opportunity to further build bridges between our communities. I argued a similar thing after the Nick Cannon brouhaha

and it is great to see Nick continuing along his path of enlightenment as a real ally of the Jewish community.

I say all of this as a precursor to seeing Ice Cube listed as a semi-finalist for 2020 Antisemite of the Year by StopAntisemitism.org.

I will point out I very much appreciate Stop Antisemitism. They do what I have done with exposing antisemites, but have the bandwidth, network, and financial backing to expose Jew haters also from platforms like TikTok and Instagram. So this is not a criticism of their work but rather my respectful opposition to this particular listing (which can, hopefully, promote some discussion).

I don’t think he should appear on such a list, even though there is no denying his tweets were antisemitic, for the reasons I explained above. Also the description of Ice Cube is in the present tense, yet he has not tweeted anything antisemitic for almost half a year.

Let’s focus on the unrepentant Jew-haters and not risk alienating those who have at least ostensibly shown a willingness to change their ways. I believe the benefits of this approach outweigh the cons.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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