Ellison’s dual loyalty charge against American Jews fits a pattern.
It has not been a good couple of weeks for Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison in his quest for Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Ellison was fast out of the gate, with major endorsements from Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi and many others.
But then some inconvenient facts came out about Ellison: His past support for Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam during college and after; once proposing a separate country for blacks; his flirting with tutherism by claiming 9/11 was Bush’s Reichstag Fire; his cozy relationship with some of the worst anti-Israel groups at the Democratic National Convention last summer and generally being the go-to congressman for that segment of the Democratic Party; and most recently, release of a partial audio clip of 2010 comments at a Muslim community fundraiser in which he questioned why the U.S. has such a special relationship with Israel considering it’s only 7 million people and the Arab world is 350 million.
All of this was documented by many people, including by us in the following posts:
- Keith Ellison blames “right-wing smear campaign” for his Farrakhan and Israel controversies
- 2010 audio: Keith Ellison complains U.S. Mideast policy turns on “what is good or bad” for Israel
- Keith Ellison’s troubling relationship with anti-Israel groups
- Soros-funded groups fight scrutiny of Keith Ellison’s Nation of Islam past
Ellison’s past has become a topic not only in conservative media, but also mainstream outlets. Chris Cillizza at WaPo wrote on December 4, 2016, Keith Ellison’s coronation as DNC Chair is over:
Rep. Keith Ellison seemed to be on cruise control in his campaign to be the next head of the Democratic National Committee. The Minnesota Democrat had won endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer for the job and had emerged as the liberal favorite in a party that has become increasingly controlled by its progressive wing in recent years.
Then last week his past came back to haunt him.
Ellison has a long history of controversial remarks, many of which he has disavowed. Like the time he compared George W. Bush to Hitler. Or his defense of the Nation of Islam. Or his characterization of his 2012 opponent as a “lowlife scumbag.”
But last week another Ellison controversy emerged — and this from the much-more-recent past.
In 2010, Ellison gave a speech at a fundraiser hosted by a past president of the Muslim American Society. In it, he says he wants the “U.S. to be friends with Israel” but adds: “We can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM.” Then he said this:
The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.
The Anti-Defamation League quickly condemned those views as “both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” Haim Saban, a major Israeli American Democratic donor, said Friday that Ellison was “clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual,” adding that having the congressman as DNC chair “would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.”
It looks like Democrats will elect Ellison, despite all this, because Howard Dean has dropped out of the running, and the two other people running are relative unknowns (NH Dem Party Chair Ray Buckley and SC Dem Party Chair Jaime Harrison).
The reaction from Ellison supporters has been to accuse those who exposed the FACTS about Ellison of engaging in a smear campaign.
Keith Ellison is being smeared like so many before him. If you're Muslim in public life or even sympathetic to Muslim concerns, watch out!
— Faiz (@fshakir) December 3, 2016
— Arjun Sethi (@arjunsethi81) December 5, 2016
The “smear campaign” accusation focuses on Ellison’s alleged youth when he supported Farrakhan, and claims that the 2010 audio clip was misleading. And of course, because Ellison is Muslim, the Islamphobia Card is being played to shut people up.
An author at HuffPo wrote that Journalists Are Enabling A Smear Campaign Against Keith Ellison:
Of course, it’s fine if people object to Ellison’s heading the DNC because of comments he made about Israel. But it’s important to read the actual comments and decide for yourself, rather than relying on journalists who muse about whether he is already “toast.”
The particular comment that made waves was excerpted from remarks at a 2010 fundraiser dug up by the right-wing organization, the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The group is headed by ex-journalist Steven Emerson, who the Southern Poverty Law Center includes on its list of “anti-Muslim extremists.”
…. The full context of Ellison’s comments ― as well as his statements afterward ― confirm that he does, indeed, just want the Muslim Americans he is addressing to become as active in support of Palestinian rights as American Jews are of Israel. At the 2010 fundraiser, he acknowledged the high level of organization shown by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, whose dinner he attends, implying that Muslim Americans would do well to follow their Jewish counterparts’ example of well-coordinated activism.
Israel, Ellison argued, “has mobilized its Diaspora in America to do its bidding in America. The question is, with all of us here, we ought to be able to do at least as much.”
Glen Greenwald makes similar claims, The Smear Campaign Against Keith Ellison Is Repugnant but Reveals Much About Washington:
EVER SINCE HE announced his candidacy to lead the Democratic National Committee, Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, has been the target of a defamation campaign that is deceitful, repugnant, and yet quite predictable. At first expressed in whispers, but now being yelled from the rooftops by some of the party’s most influential figures, Ellison is being smeared as both an anti-Semite and enemy of Israel — the same smears virtually any critic of the Israeli government reflexively encounters, rendered far worse if the critic is a prominent American Muslim….
To get a sense for just how prohibited the most benign and basic debates are when it comes to Israel, consider the quotes from Ellison’s college days dug up by CNN as supposedly incriminating. In 1990, while a law student at the University of Minnesota, Ellison blasted the university president for condemning a speaking event featuring the anti-Zionist civil rights icon Kwame Ture (also known as Stokely Carmichael); Ellison’s argument was that all ideas, including Zionism, should be regarded as debatable in a college environment:
The University’s position appears to be this: Political Zionism is off-limits no matter what dubious circumstances Israel was founded under; no matter what the Zionists do to the Palestinians; and no matter what wicked regimes Israel allies itself with — like South Africa. This position is untenable.
In other words, Ellison — 26 years ago, while a student — simply argued that college campuses should not be deemed “safe spaces” in which debates over Israel are barred: an utterly mainstream view when the topic to be debated is something other than Israel.
Leave aside the bizarre attempt to use someone’s college-aged political activism against them three decades later. As my colleague Zaid Jilani very ably documented several days ago, even the most inflammatory of Ellison’s campus statements — including his long-ago-renounced praise for the Nation of Islam — were grounded in righteous opposition to “white supremacy and the policies of the state of Israel” and “show him expressing sympathy for the plight of underprivileged whites and making clear that he was not antagonistic toward Jewish people.” Writing about the smear campaign circulating on the internet against Ellison, The Forward’s Goldberg said he found “the evidence to be either frivolous, distorted or simply false.”
Greenwald’s analysis glosses over some inconvenient facts. Such as that Ellison didn’t just support Farrakhan in college, he continued that support into the mid-1990s, when he was in his 30s (born 1963), including a claim that Farrakhan was a good “role model.”
While Ellison, in a 2006 mea culpa to the Jewish community in Minnesota when he was running for Congress claimed that he didn’t fully appreciate the antisemitic nature of Farrakhan, that is just not credible. In my prior post, I set forth the widespread national attention to Farrakhan’s antisemitism BEFORE Ellison defended Farrakhan:
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) December 3, 2016
And let’s talk about that full audio posted by Steve Emerson after Ellison claimed the original partial clip was out of context. In fact, that full audio is even more devastating to Ellison than the original short clip:
“The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes. Can I say that again?”
Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism provided the following background to the event:
The fundraiser for Ellison’s re-election campaign was hosted by Esam Omeish, a past president of the Muslim American Society (MAS) who was forced to resign from a Virginia state immigration panel in 2007 after an exclusive IPT videotape showed him praising Palestinians for choosing the “the jihad way … to liberate your land.” Omeish was a candidate for Virginia’s general assembly the previous year, and Ellison spoke at a fundraiser for that losing effort.
In his 2010 remarks, he described Omeish as “my beloved brother and I love you and you are the best and your family is so beautiful and again, you know, you put it out there. You ran. And I hope you run again.”
Also present at the fundraiser was Nihad Awad, a co-founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)….
In the 2010 full audio, Ellison plays the dual loyalty charge very hard, as if Americans can’t disagree with Obama on Israel, as if that is somehow betraying out country. (Put aside his substantive position that Jews can’t even live in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, which was recaptured by Israel in 1967 after Jordan ethnically cleansed all Jews from the areas of East Jerusalem and the “West Bank” it captured in 1948-1949.)
What’s also interesting, is that Ellison was critical of American Jews advocating for Israel, but encouraged American Muslims in his audience to advocate against Israel.
Here is an excerpt from the full transcript (emphasis added).
“I want to let you know that over the past four years it’s been a pleasure to be in the Congress. It’s been an amazing time to be here, all kinds of things that have happened. Another interesting thing, development in the last 24 hours is that the American Israel Political Action Committee was on [laughter] Capitol Hill just today, and they were all over the place. And they had their dinner last night. Some of you might be a little upset to know that I went. But I always go and I am going to tell you why I go. Because I want to know what’s going on. [Laughter.] Correct? I want to hear what everybody has to say. Right? And I want you to know that the level of organization that they display is considerable. And you should be, you should watch that level of organization. You should know that they only got one issue – and that is to try to say that whatever Israel does is just fine.
“But I want you to know there is a growing awareness in the US Congress and in the executive branch that everything anyone does, including Israel, is not fine. Right? And there are real questions being asked. But let me just tell you, this effort to stop settlements throughout East Jerusalem and throughout the rest of Palestine cannot be something that only the President carries on his shoulders. The American people have got to stand up and say something. And who’s going to say something if you don’t say something? So today you know I am in a meeting with these folks. They live in my district, they are my constituents. I have a moral and legal obligation to meet with them. And they tell me what’s on their mind and I tell them, ‘Do you stand,’ I ask them, ‘Do you stand with the President on stopping settlements in East Jerusalem, because that is the policy of my president and I want to know if you’re with the President. Are you with the President?‘ [Laughter.] You know? You understand? And so the thing is, you could do the same thing. And then make them, ‘Err, I don’t know, we’re thinking about it. You know it’s not –’ Seriously. You know ‘Oh and you know East Jerusalem, everyone knows that you know it’s going to be part of the final status agreement anyway, and there’s going to be swaths.’ No, no, no, no, no. Freeze, freeze, freeze. And then they want to tell me, well you know the real issue is, the real issue is Iran. That’s what they want me to think the real issue is, and this, we need to not worry about East Jerusalem, we just need to worry about Iran. I said, ‘Well if East Jerusalem is a small thing it doesn’t really matter. Why don’t you suspend?’ Right? If it’s such, if Iran is such a big deal, is it a big enough deal for you to suspend your building houses, colonizing what will be the future state of Palestine? This is an important issue, and we should not let the President be out there by ourselves.
“Now some of us might think to ourselves, ‘The President hasn’t done enough this, he hasn’t followed up on his Cairo vision enough.’ Let me tell you, all those things may be true, but we’re not talking about perfection. We’re talking about what we all need to be doing. And I am telling you that the Muslim community in America needs to be among the first to say the President’s right. Stop, you know why are we sending a mill-, $2.8 billion dollars a year over there when they won’t even honor our request to stop building in East Jerusalem? Where is the future Palestinian state going to be if it’s colonized before it even gets up off the ground?”
Male: ‘The capital of Palestine.’
Keith Ellison: “The capital. The capital. And where is it going to be? And who’s, and it can’t, and I know some of you might be thinking, well Keith you know we can’t really say anything because if we do then we’re going to get attention from the government we don’t want. I am telling you, I don’t believe that’s true because if we hang together and we do the right thing, we say the right thing, I think we can succeed, insha’allah.
“So it’s the right time. It’s the right time. Because now, all we got to do is stand up next to the President. We don’t have to even get out front on this issue. Now you got Clinton, Biden and the President who’s told them – stop. Now this has happened before. They beat back a President before. Bush 41 said – stop, and they said – we don’t want to stop, and by the way we want our money and we want it now. [Ellison laughs.] Right? You know, I mean we can’t allow, we’re Americans, right? We can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM. Right? And so we ought to stand up as Americans. Now some of us have affinity for other places around the globe. Some of us are new Americans and adopted America as our home. But whether you’re born here or whether you accepted America as your own voluntarily, this is our home. Right? All of our home equally, and we can’t allow it to be disrespected because some, by a country that we’re paying money to. So I am just saying if there was ever a time when we could stand up on this issue, we need to stand up on it now. We need to also, we need to also, so if we could get letters to the President saying, ‘Mr. President, I think what you’re doing is the right thing and we support you,’ that would be a benefit….
“I’m looking for public diplomacy. You understand what I am saying? Public diplomacy. And this is not to say that I don’t want the U.S. to be friends with Israel. I just want the United States to have a lot of friends. Right? And to be in a position with the friend to say – you are wrong and you must stop. But now we say it and it doesn’t happen even though our GDP is you know four times larger than the 2nd largest country. Right? It just doesn’t make any mathematical sense. But it makes all the sense in the world when you see that that country has mobilized its Diaspora in America to do its bidding in America. The question is, with all of us here, we ought to be able to do at least as much. You understand what I am trying to say? That we got a lot of work to do. I’m working on it. We’re working on it together, and by supporting with my campaign you’re keeping me in business doing this stuff….
But what I am saying is we can decide whether we are going to fight hard, right? And I am telling you, that with your help, we are able to take Muslim presence on Capitol Hill from zero to a real player. And this is what we’re trying to do and we got to do it in every state house in America, we got to do it in the Capitol Hill….
“We can see the changes already. We got more civil rights organizations than we’ve ever had before. The civil rights organizations that we have had to do a lot of tough fighting but they are still standing. CAIR has not fallen, they are fighting and struggling every day. Right? I am telling you that every Friday my brother calls the adhan in the Capitol. Is that right? [Male replies ‘Alhamdulillah.’] Under the Capitol dome. [Male says, ‘Yes sir.’] And whenever, is that right? [Replies of “yes” and “Alhamdulillah”]. And I am telling you that the Muslim Hill staffers are a group of high, highly, highly competent professionals. Brother Assad Akhtar, yeah, who did such a great job. And so when I go to the Muslim Hill st-, when I go to Jumuah, I can get an update on Sudan, on Pakistan, on the health care bill, on the financial services bill, and on what’s really going on in the Senate. And nobody really knows that. [Laughter]. So you know what I mean [Laughter.] Right, right. Nobody really knows that….
This sentence quoted above, which was not in the original short audio clip released, should be devastating to Ellison’s role as a leader of either major political party:
“that country [Israel] has mobilized its Diaspora in America [American Jews] to do its bidding in America”
This is the likely Chair of the Democratic National Committee speaking when he though only other opponents of Israel were listening six years ago. The 2010 audio is a continuation of a consistent pattern in Ellison’s life from his Farrakhan days in the 1980s and 1990s.
The overwhelming majority (over 60%) of Americans side with Israel over the Palestinians at a level near a historic high, but Ellison doesn’t accuse that 60% of dual loyalty, only Israel’s Diaspora (i.e., American Jews).
That pattern continues in 2016. While Ellison talks a relatively moderate leftist game on Israel now, his 2016 relationship with anti-Israel groups reflects his negative views of Israeli influence in the U.S. continue. Remember, Ellison appeared at an event last summer for the toxicly anti-Israel, pro-BDS U.S. Campaign To End the Israeli Occupation and American Friends Service Committee.
Those are facts, not a smear. Dems will own Ellison’s history if they elect him.DONATE
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