On January 19 1991, Madonna’s The Immaculate Collection video collection hit #1 on the Top Music Videos chart in the USA. The VHS video single for Justify My Love hit #2 on the same chart.
On January 4 1991, Madonna responded to a Rabbi’s accusation of anti-semitism for the song lyrics in the remix of Justify My Love, called The Beast Within.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, accused Madonna of insulting Jews by using this Bible reference:
“I know your tribulation and your poverty and the slander of those who say that they are Jews, but they are not, they are a synagogue of Satan.”
In a letter sent to Madonna’s manager, Freddy DeMann, Rabbi Cooper said the Wiesenthal Center was outraged and wanted the quotation withdrawn. “The imagery of ‘Jew as Devil’ has led to untold violence against the Jewish people and slander against Judaism over the course of the last 2,000 years,” the rabbi wrote.
He charged that the phrase could “contribute to those who seek to promote anti-Semitism” and said that neo-Nazi groups had used such imagery to promote racist ideology among youth.
Madonna responded with this statement:
“I certainly did not have any anti-Semitic intent when I included a passage from the Bible on my record. It was a commentary on evil in general. My message, if any, is pro-tolerance and anti-hate. The song is, after all, about love.”
Rabbi Cooper said he took Madonna at her word.
“She was direct to the issue, she responded quickly and we’re relieved that she did so,” the rabbi said.
How did you feel about The Beast Within the first time you heard it?
On December 10 1991, Madonna was honoured with the Award Of Courage by the American Foundation For AIDS Research (AMFAR) at a Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel dinner, in Beverly Hills, California.
At the event, Madonna discussed the rumours that she had tested positive for AIDS:
“When the rumors surfaced that I was HIV-positive, I thought, well, someone’s really bored today . . . let’s make up a real juicy story. I tried to ignore it but it wouldn’t go away. . . .
Instead of pointing the finger at people and having witch hunts and ostracizing each other for lifestyles and sexual preferences, we should all be uniting to fight this disease . . . but we’re not. Because we’re afraid. We’re scared out of our skins to face the truth that AIDS is not a gay disease, it’s a human disease.
Now I’m not HIV-positive, but what if I were? I would be more afraid of how society would treat me for having the disease than the actual disease itself. If this is what I have to deal with for my involvement in fighting this epidemic, then so be it.
I’m not afraid to be associated with people who are HIV-positive, and I am not afraid to love people who are HIV-positive. Because their ordeal is more important than mine, because their courage is larger than mine, because what they’re facing is real. And if we can learn to deal with real, and our fears, then I’m hopeful that we can conquer this disease.”
The event drew 850 guests, and raised $750,000 for AmFAR. Performers included Patti Austin, k.d. lang, Barry Manilow, Michael McDonald, David Pack and Rosie O’Donnell, who did a hilarious send-up of the Madonna’s Vogue.