Participated in Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation event during Democratic National Convention
As reported the other day, Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota has the backing of several top Democrats to become Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Top Dems rally around radical Keith Ellison for DNC Chair:
The lesson Democrats are learning from the evisceration of the Democratic Party at the state level, the continuing loss of control of Congress, and the defeat in the presidential election is not that Democrats need to move back to the center.
No, it’s that Democrats need to move not just further to the left, but to the fringe left.
Several top Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer, are backing Keith Ellison, Democratic Congressman from Minnesota, as the next DNC Chair [as] Daily Kos reports….
Ellison’s Nation of Islam Past
Ellison was one of three Bernie Sanders’ representatives on the DNC platform committee who worked to turn the platform away from support for Israel.
Ellison was the first Muslim elected to federal office when he won his seat in 2006. Ellison also has had ties with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
Ellison repeatedly has been regarded as one of the most liberal members of Congress.
Since that post, Ellison has gained even more backing, including from Harry Reid. As Ellison’s status as possible DNC Chair increases, people have begun to pay more attention to his background.
Ellison’s 2006 run for his seat was plunged into controversy after the conservative PowerLineBlog.com found he had once identified with Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and in 1998 was referring to himself as Keith X Ellison and Keith Ellison-Muhammed.
The Washington Post reported that Ellison had defended Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism in 1989 and in 1990 had called affirmative action a “sneaky” form of compensation for slavery, calling instead for reparations.
When the controversy erupted in 2006, Ellison acknowledged he had worked with the group, but only for 18 months to help organize Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March. He distanced himself from both Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, and said he hadn’t scruitinized the group’s anti-Semitic positions appropriately.
“They were and are anti-Semitic, and I should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did,” he said.
Yet it isn’t the only controversy for Ellison. In 2007, Ellison made a comparison between Bush and 9/11 to Hitler and the 1933 Reichstag fire.
“9/11 is the juggernaut in American history and it allows… it’s almost like, you know, the Reichstag fire,” Ellison said, according to a Daily Telegraph report at the time. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”
He later clarified that he did indeed believe that Usama bin Laden was responsible for the terror attacks. But it wasn’t the only controversy for Ellison in 2007, as he also backed a movement to impeach then-Vice President Dick Cheney over his alleged fabrication of intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Scott Johnson at Power Line blog, based in Minnesota, has followed Ellison’s career as closely as anyone, and writes regarding Ellison possibly becoming DNC Chair, The Ellison Angle:
Ellison’s public agitation on behalf of the Nation of Islam extends back to his days as a law student at the University of Minnesota Law School through his first attempt to secure the Democratic endorsement for a state legislative seat. Over the years Ellison agitated on behalf of the Nation of Islam he operated under names including Keith Hakim, Keith X Ellison and Keith Ellison-Muhammad. I summarized this aspect of Ellison’s rise in the Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first Congressman” and the companion Power Line post “Keith Ellison for dummies.”
Ellison’s freedom from media scrutiny has served him well so far. Apart from an extremely misleading letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council in 2006, Ellison has never had to account, explain or apologize for his long-time membership in and advocacy of the Nation of Islam. Rather, Ellison has lied about it, minimized it and suppressed it. In his own memoir Ellison rewrites his past, presenting himself as a critic of the Nation of Islam for its bigotry and hatred. He does not confide in readers that the source of his knowledge is personal and that it comes from the inside. I don’t think much of the Democratic Party or its leaders, but I have to ask whether Democrats really know what they are buying with Ellison.
UPDATE: I just heard a radio news report indicating that Ellison denies he was ever a member of the Nation of Islam. This is a bald-faced lie for which I have the ocular proof in “Keith Ellison for dummies.”
Even The Washington Post has noted Ellison’s past, though soft-pedaling it as merely “controversial”:
Earlier in his career, Ellison apologized for and/or backed off a number of controversial statements and politically dicey moves, from likening George W. Bush’s consolidation of power post-9/11 to the rise of Adolf Hitler, to defending the leader of the National of Islam, to labeling his 2012 reelection opponent a “lowlife scumbag.” These comments have rarely been an issue for Ellison in his safe Minneapolis-based district, but now that he’s competing to lead the Democratic Party, they’ve resurfaced.
Since his candidacy for DNC chair became official on Monday, conservative outlets have been quick to seize on the Hitler comments — often stretching them further than the words dictate. An Ellison spokesman is dismissing them as old attacks and emphasizes the congressman long ago denounced anti-Semitism within the ranks of the Nation of Islam. He also pointed to the congressman’s work with Jewish groups and support from the Jewish community.
Here’s what Ellison said back in 2007 during a meeting with a group of atheists: “It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”
Ellison didn’t say the name “Hitler,” but the arson attack on the Reichstag building — the home of Germany’s parliament — in Berlin in 1933 is remembered as contributing to Hitler’s consolidation of power. Hitler used emergency constitutional levers to crack down on the press and opposition groups, eventually extending the crackdown to even more civil rights.
WaPo even went into Ellison’s Farrakhan days:
The country’s first Muslim congressman has also backed off his involvement with the Million Man March in 1995 and his comments in defense of Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan. As the AP’s Patrick Condon wrote in 2006, when Ellison first campaigned for Congress:
Around 1990, Ellison — then a University of Minnesota law student known as Keith E. Hakim — wrote several columns in the student newspaper that are getting a second look.
One column defended Farrakhan against charges of anti-Semitism; a second suggested the creation of a state for black residents. In 1995, Ellison helped organize a delegation to Farrakhan’s Million Man March in Washington.
Ellison, 42, said he was never an enrolled member of the Nation of Islam. He got involved to help improve the lives of black men, he said, and did not fully grasp concerns about Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism until after the 1995 march….
The defense of Ellison by supporters is that the Louis Farrakan stuff was long ago, that he’s changed. And indeed, from much of what I’ve read about Ellison, he tries to play some of his activism when it comes to Israel to the left of center but not to the extreme.
Yet those words of reasonableness are called into question by his association with anti-Israel groups.
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
The U.S. Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation, recently rebranded as the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, is one of the most active BDS groups. As we have covered many times, the U.S. Campaign is active on campuses and in churches urging the boycott of Israel.
The U.S. Campaign is so uncompromising, so vitriolic and so biased, that the United Methodist Church assembly recently voted to seek withdrawal from the U.S. Campaign coalition.
The U.S. Campaign is so toxic that it could not find a single congressman or congresswoman to sponsor its planned event on Capitol Hill, as we previously reported, Report: Pro-BDS event on Capitol Hill canceled after nature of group exposed:
I reported yesterday how one of the most extreme BDS groups, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, was scheduled to hold an event on Capitol Hill on Friday.
The U.S. Campaign is behind a lot of anti-Israel efforts, such as the demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention this summer.
The event was first disclosed in an article in The Free Beacon, which noted that no Congressman would admit to sanctioning the event, which would have been necessary for the room to be reserved.
The impropriety of hosting such a group went beyond the pro-BDS position, which has close to zero support in Congress. The U.S. Campaign is particularly notorious for outrageous provocation, such as when its Policy Director used the anti-Semitic slur “Israel Firster” against Senator Chuck Schumer.
The issue escalated today as it became apparent that the event may have violated Congressional anti-discrimination rules, as The Free Beacon further reported in a follow up, Congressional Forum in Favor of Boycotting Israel May Violate Rules on Discrimination…
The sole sponsor of the event, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), backed out after the controversy erupted, claiming her office was tricked into being listed as a sponsor. Lacking any congressional sponsors, the Capitol Hill event was cancelled.
One of the problems with the U.S. Campaign was that its communication Director had openly attacked Sen. Chuck Schumer as an Israel Firster.
As as we reported, the “Israel Firster” slur is long associated with antisemitic accusations of dual loyalty, yet one of the leaders of the U.S. Campaign, Josh Ruebner, used it against Schumer, Policy Director of group holding Congressional pro-BDS forum used anti-Semitic “Israel Firster” slur against Chuck Schumer:
The U.S. Campaign at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Ellison received the highest ranking from this U.S. Campaign on its congressional scoring for 2009-2010, the most recent year in which I found such a ranking.
The U.S. Campaign was the main organizer of anti-Israel activity at the Convention, including passing out signs for delegates to hold:
The U.S. Campaign worked with other anti-Israel groups to create protests inside and outside the convention hall:
The protests against Israel turned violent outside the convention hall, though the participation of anyone from the U.S. Campaign is not documented. Nonetheless, the U.S. Campaign did stoke and contribute to the anti-Israel atmosphere:
Ellison Appeared at The U.S. Campaign’s Main Convention Event
The centerpiece of the U.S. Campaign’s anti-Israel activism at the convention was a panel titled: Progressives for Palestine.
Ellison was one of the featured speakers, along with Linda Sarsour, New York delegate and co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, and Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute. The event was moderated by Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign, the person who called Schumer an “Israel Firster.”
Ellison appeared by video.
Ellison heaped praise on activities of the participants and event, and extolled the shift in the dialogue around Israel. He objected to the focus on Israeli security.
While Ellison’s comments themselves were not particularly inflammatory, he lent his name to an event and group that were inflammatory. When a Congressman lends his or her name to an event and to a group, it’s a big public relations boost for the group. It gives it credibility it otherwise would not have.
And that is what Ellison did for the U.S. Campaign last summer during the Democratic National Convention. The U.S. Campaign used Ellison’s appearance in its promotional material after the event.
Ellison’s Association with American Friends Service Committee
Ellison’s relationship with the U.S. Campaign is not isolated. The DNC event described above was co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee. AFSC works relentlessly to support the boycott movement, even running an anti-Israel BDS training camp.
Ellison also was a speaker at AFSC’s briefing on the Gaza war. While expressing concern for all children, by lending his name to AFSC, Ellison promoted a clearly anti-Israel group.
It is no real surprise that Ellison is a favorite not only of the U.S. Campaign and American Friends Service Committee, but also the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace.
Ellison’s vote against increased Iron Dome funding to protect Israel from Hamas rockets was nothing short of bizarre. Ellison appeared to argue that it was unfair to only protect Israel.
Ellison also argued to remove the blockade of Gaza during the 2014 war. The blockade is military, and even the U.N., which almost never agrees with Israel on anything, ruled the military blockade to be legal under international law.
In Op-Ed in The Washington Post, End the Gaza blockade to achieve peace, Ellison appeared to be supremely naive (at best) about the role of Hamas in causing civilian deaths by using them as human shields:
These people aren’t rocket shooters or combatants. For the past several years they have lived in dreadful isolation. The status quo for ordinary Gazans is a continuation of no jobs and no freedom. This is not an attractive future. Gazans want and deserve the dignity of economic opportunity and freedom to move. This can be accomplished only with an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which must be considered within the framework of a cease-fire. Israelis likewise deserve to live free of rocket fire and terror attacks. In order for Israelis to live safely and securely in their homes, Hamas must give up its rockets and other weapons.
I have traveled to Gaza three times since 2009 and have visited hospitals and schools there. As I have talked with ordinary Gazans, I have not encountered anyone representing Hamas….
Continuing to block goods and services to and from Gaza keeps the keys to opportunity away from the people who just want to live, work and travel.
The vast majority of Gazans do not support firing rockets into Israel or killing Israelis. In fact, the majority of people in Gaza are women and children.
Not surprisingly, this position which would have opened Gaza up to even more Iranian arms shipments, was applauded by JVP:
Ellison for DNC Chair?
There is a battle going on within the Democratic Party to determine its destiny. Having lost a presidential election, both houses of Congress, and most of the states, will the party turn hard left or drift back to the center.
As we saw at the convention, part of that battle is whether the Democratic Party will align with the overwhelming majority of Americans who support Israel, or will it seek to appease the anti-Israel left-wing of the party.
Ellison has become the personification of that fight.DONATE
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