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Famous Rapper/Actor MOS DEF Uses Jews as an Example about JENA 6 Case

Reader comment on item: The New Anti-Semitism

Submitted by Peter L. Wintz (United States), Sep 28, 2007 at 16:39

9/28/2007 BACKGROUND: You may have heard about the Jena Six case. The Jena Six refers to a group of six black teenagers who have been charged with the beating of a white teenager at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, on December 4, 2006. The beating followed a series of racially-charged incidents in the town. The six black students were initially charged with attempted second degree murder and conspiracy to commit attempted second degree murder.

The Jena Six case has sparked protests by those who believe that the arrests and the subsequent charges were excessive and racially discriminatory, alleging a lack of arrests and serious charges against white youths in Jena in earlier incidents in the town. The case stems from an incident at Jena High School, about 10% of enrolled students are African Americans and more than 85% are white. Early reporting asserted that students of different races seldom sat together, although this has been disputed.

According to early reports, black students typically sat on bleachers near the auditorium, while white students sat under a large tree, referred to as the "white tree" or "prep tree", in the center of the school courtyard. However, according to some teachers and administrators at the school, the tree in question wasn't a "white tree", and students of all races sat under it at one time or another. A school assembly was held on August 31, 2006. According to media reports, a black male freshman student asked the principal whether he could sit under the "white tree". According to U.S. Attorney Donald Washington, the principal stated that the question was posed in a "jocular fashion".The principal told the students they could "sit wherever they wanted."

The following morning, nooses were discovered hanging from the tree. Reports differ whether there were three — believed by some to be code for the Ku Klux Klan— or two. On December 4, 2006, 17-year-old Justin Barker, a white Jena High School student, was assaulted at school. He was struck on the back of the head and knocked down by a black student. According to some witnesses, a group of black students then repeatedly kicked him. Some individuals have stated that Barker had mocked Robert Bailey, Jr., who had allegedly been beaten up by a white man the previous Friday. Barker denies that. The jury found Bell guilty, and he faced the possibility of up to 22 years in prison. The judge scheduled sentencing for September 20, 2007. Mychal Bell, the only member of the "Jena Six" to be tried so far, has had his convictions set aside, one by the trial judge and the other by the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal. Both convictions were overturned on the grounds that the defendant should have been tried as a juvenile, not as an adult, because he was sixteen when the incident occurred.Bell was incarcerated for almost 10 months, before being released on September 27, 2007, after posting bail Mychal Bell, one of the "Jena Six," has been released on bail, hours after the prosecutor agreed not to retry him as an adult in the beating of a white teenager last year. Bell, 17, had been in jail since he and five other teens were arrested in December in Jena, La. He now faces retrial as a juvenile.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced yesterday that LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters would not pursue an adult trial. Famous rappers Mos Def, Talib Kweli and M1 of the group dead prez are calling for a national student walk out in support of the "Jena 6." The act of protest is being organized in conjunction with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Sankofa Community Empowerment, Change the Game, the National Hip Hop Political Convention and student leaders from 50 campuses across the country.

The case of the "Jena 6," and the overwhelming response from the group's supporters, has attracted worldwide attention. Last week, thousands of protestors flocked to the small Louisiana town to demand justice for the accused. Scheduled for Monday, October 1 at 12:00 p.m., the main aim of the walk out is to demand the release of Mychal Bell, the only member of the 6 that remains incarcerated. If Bell has not been released by 12:00 p.m. on that day, participants have been instructed to walk out of their classrooms and schools. Other demands include: All charges against the "Jena 6" be dropped.

The immediate release of Mychal Bell The United States Department of Justice to convene an immediate inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the arrests and prosecutions of the "Jena 6." Judge Mauffray to be recused from presiding over Bell 's juvenile court hearings or other proceedings. The Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel to investigate Reed Walters for unethical and possibly illegal conduct. The Louisiana Judiciary Commission investigate Judge Mauffray for unethical conduct. The Jena School District superintendent to be removed from office.

MOS DEF "If they were Jewish students who sat under the tree and the following day had swastikas or offensive racial imagery hung from those trees, and they decided to respond to that imagery with their fists, they wouldn't have charges placed against them in this country or any other country, for that matter -recorded by CNN reporters during a live broadcast from Jena, Louisiana, late September (source: see CNN transcripts, jena Mos Def) the statement also appears on the Hip Hop website: allhiphop.com: http://allhiphop.com/blogs/newsfeatures/archive/2007/09/26/18651553.aspx **********************************************************************************************************

Is this a form of antisemitism to bring interject Jews in a case completely unrelated to Jews? The statement assumes some special privilege of Jews which seems disingenuous exaggeted at best, not simply not true at worst. BACKGROUND DETAILS ON MOS DEF: Mos Def was first exposed to Islam at age 13 by his father. He became a Muslim at age 19 after getting to know Muslim rappers including Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Q-Tip of the group A Tribe Called Quest. His music has occasional also has references to his Islamic faith,He has recently taken up skateboarding and said he's looking to host a skateboarding event in the United Arab Emirates. On September 7, 2007, Mos Def appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher where he stated his belief that Al-Qaeda was not responsible for 9/11, that the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax and that Al-Qaeda is not responsible for as much terrorism as they are portrayed to be.

On Mos Def's 2004 album The New Danger a song called "The Rape Over" had the following lyrics (excerpt): white men is runnin' this rap shit, Corporate forces runnin' this rap shit, Some tall Israeli is runnin' this rap shit, We poke out our asses for a chance to cash in. Cocaine, is runnin' this rap shit, 'Dro, 'yac and e-pills is runnin this rap shit,,,, ....MTV is runnin' this rap shit, Viacom is runnin' this rap shit, AOL and Time Warner runnin' this rap shit, Quasi-homosexuals is runnin' this rap shit high-placed executives temporarily made Mos take the song off releases of the album, citing clearance issues with Jay-Z and The Doors, a band which the song samples.

The song has been called anti-Semitic for its veiled reference to Israeli American record executive Lyor Cohen (the "tall Israeli" who then was head of the The Island Def Jam Music Group). However the song does appear on the final album sold by Geffen Records

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (5) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
such ingrates!!! [67 words]ruthJul 15, 2008 12:06135162
1Famous Rapper/Actor MOS DEF Uses Jews as an Example about JENA 6 Case [1225 words]Peter L. WintzSep 28, 2007 16:39109858
1Mos Def's comments are inane. [95 words]AaronMar 29, 2009 17:13109858
2Not Anti-Semitism [50 words]B.R.SAug 7, 2010 00:29109858
The New Antisemitism: Christian antisemitism? [124 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
JJ JosephJul 17, 2007 20:02103880

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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