Keith Ellison seeks to placate Israel lobby, by saying he is against BDS

US Politics
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A battle has begun inside the Democratic Party over Rep. Keith Ellison’s bid to be Democratic Party chair, and the Israel consensus is again the central question. Ellison is one of the few critics of Israel inside the party. The rightwing Israel lobby is quietly mounting opposition to Ellison; and Ellison has parried by telling his hometown Minneapolis Star and Tribune and other publications that he is against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel:

“I have long supported a two-state solution and a democratic and secure state for the Jewish people, with a democratic and viable Palestinian state side-by-side in peace and dignity,” Ellison said, in an emailed statement. “I don’t believe boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel helps us achieve that goal.”

Opposing BDS was of course a big part of Hillary Clinton’s march to the Democratic Party nomination last year, and her cultivation of donors.

Josh Kraushaar of National Journal says Israel is the elephant in the room:

Dems really don’t want to talk about Ellison’s record on Israel. “No comment” said one [Chuck] Schumer ally. Many stories avoiding elephant in room.

The JTA yesterday quoted Abe Foxman formerly of the ADL opposing Ellison and warning that the party is splitting over Israel, at last:

That he is being seriously considered now — and with the backing of the party’s foremost pro-Israel stalwart, incoming Senate minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. — is a signal of how far the party is willing to go in challenging the most influential pro-Israel groups, a relationship that not so long ago was hard to disentangle.

“It sends the wrong symbol for someone with those views to take a leadership role in the Democratic Party, especially since the party has been struggling with Israel,” said Abraham Foxman, the retired national director of the Anti-Defamation League, giving voice to what many establishment pro-Israel figures are saying without attribution. “Israel has always been a bipartisan issue; this makes it less of one.”

Steven M. Cohen, a professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion, said Ellison’s ascent is emblematic of a party seeking to attract younger voters likelier to identify with the Palestinians than with Israel, or at least to see the conflict from both sides. …

“One can imagine that young Democrats would have no problem with Ellison as chairing their party,” Cohen said. “The pressure is on the pro-Israel community to broaden the definition of pro-Israel to include people who oppose settlement expansion and who favor a far more inclusive approach that takes into account Palestinian nationalism.”

So it’s the same battle we’ve seen over Chuck Hagel, Chas Freeman and Bernie Sanders, too. And the critics of Israel are building their base inside the party, thanks to young Dems, women, people of color. Though the old guard is still the old guard, and opposed to BDS. President Obama opposed BDS. So did Bernie Sanders. They had no choice, politically.

In another elephant in the room report, The New York Times leaves the Israel lobby angle to the end of its story on opposition to Ellison– which includes bringing up his comments in support of Louis Farrakhan in the 90’s. Note the opposition by the ADL to Ellison:

Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, called Mr. Ellison “an important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism” but said he had taken positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “on which we strongly differ and that concern us.”

“We hope that all candidates for this post will make clear where they stand on these issues, and that the Democratic National Committee will make a choice that affirms the longstanding bipartisan consensus on a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” he said.

Aides to Mr. Ellison were going to make him available for a telephone interview, but then declined when informed that he would be asked about his past comments on Mr. Farrakhan. They emailed a list of his links to the Jewish community and a statement that said, “Democrats need an organizer who will energize the grass-roots across this country to build the party from the bottom up.”

The Minneapolis Star and Tribune notes the sources of the Farrakhan report (pro-Israel publications) and says Ellison is fighting back.

Rep. Keith Ellison said Tuesday he has a long record of fighting anti-Semitism and strongly condemns the Nation of Islam in light of several op-eds published this week that accuse the Minneapolis congressman of secretly supporting Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan….

This week, op-eds in the Weekly Standard and Tablet, a Jewish news website, touted quiet ties Ellison had with the Nation of Islam — a black political movement dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Ellison’s camp sent out a list of clarifications with the op-eds, saying Ellison has condemned the Nation of Islam and other groups that promote anti-Semitic statements. In 2003, Ellison helped prosecute Holocaust deniers in the state legislature, his spokesman said….

“Keith forcefully rejects anti-Semitism and other forms of hate or discrimination – values that define the foundation of his public service and his vision for America,” an Ellison spokesman said.

Here’s some of that opposition: Scott Johnson, the “Trouble with Keith Ellison,” in The Weekly Standard

The case against Ellison that should concern all Americans is moral. To borrow a term, he is a bad hombre.

Ellison’s key backer is NY Senator Chuck Schumer, a pillar of the Israel lobby. In a signal of that establishment support, Steve Rabinowitz, longtime Democratic Party consultant on Jewish constituencies, touts Ellison in the Jerusalem Post and cites Alan Dershowitz, who has called Ellison “a decent, good person.” Along with a bunch of other rightwing Jewish supporters of Israel:

The next DNC chair needs to focus first on grassroots organizing and winning elections. And Jewish Democrats should put our efforts into ensuring that Democrats come out to vote in 2018 and in 2020.

Yes, of course the J Street Left supports Ellison, and well they should. And American Jewish World Service, Bend the Arc, Americans for Peace Now, Senators Sanders and Al Franken and others are all advocates and allies. But for me, it’s much more noteworthy – and no disrespect intended – what the Alan Dershowitzes and the Chuck Schumers, the Marshall Bregers and the Michael Latzes, the Marc Schneiers and the Religious Action Centers and the Jews of Minnesota all say.

Meantime, no worries about Donald Trump’s pick to be the US ambassador to the United Nations. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Jewish Insider reports Sen. Lindsey Graham’s assessment:

“Governor Haley is a strong supporter of the State of Israel.  Her presence as Ambassador will be reassuring to all those who are concerned about the increasing hostility of the United Nations toward Israel.”

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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20 Responses

  1. DaBakr
    November 23, 2016, 2:39 pm

    PW can’t decide if his feared lobby, aipac, is the elephant in the room or the shrinking violet he has been beaming about in the past post election week. His head must hurt with all the spinning around

  2. joemowrey
    November 23, 2016, 2:43 pm

    What passes for a “Progressive” these days is absurd. Ellison is a war-mongering toady for the Corporate Dems. He’ll fold on any issue if it benefits him. But of course, that is the definition of just about any member of the so-called progressive caucus.

    Here’s a good look at the illustrious co-chair of that caucus. Pretty disgusting.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/17/the-skeletons-in-keith-ellisons-display-case/

  3. Bandolero
    November 23, 2016, 2:44 pm

    Keith Ellison ist also an Original Cosponsor of the Israel lobby’s H.R.5732 – “Let’s start a war with Russia” Act of 2016

    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/11/22/us-house-seeks-syria-war-escalation/

    So, what they are doing now, that’s how the Israel lobby, the Neocons and the pro-Israel war hawks thank him for supporting their war efforts? As a muslim he’s not realiable enough?

    For me it looks just like the opposite: Keith Ellison looks like just another pro-Israel war hawk in the pocket of the lobby.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 24, 2016, 2:01 pm

      bandolero, dems are going to keep losing elections if they don’t drop this pandering to the lobbies, people are fed up.

  4. John Douglas
    November 23, 2016, 2:51 pm

    What a horror. A foreign country using American supporters to influence elections and policies in the US. Oh, the country is Israel. Never mind.
    Seriously, this is a disappointment. The first of many steps to come that reduce the chance of the Democratic Party’s taking clear, moral positions for workers and for people oppressed by those with greater clout. And it’s the first public lie. Ellison knows he’s lying when he says that BDS will not help produce a two state solution.
    By the way, I don’t believe Schumer wanted Ellison to head the DNC. He backs him to gets credits with the Bernie people knowing that the lobby will kill it.

  5. Atlantaiconoclast
    November 23, 2016, 3:49 pm

    President Obama opposed BDS. So did Bernie Sanders. They had no choice, politically. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/11/ellison-placate-against/#sthash.Tkq1J0FB.dpuf

    Really? Does Trump not have a choice either? Time to call a spade a spade. Obama and Sanders are cruel hoaxes. At least Trump never pretended to be even handed.

    People of color and other DNC obedient groups are not going to deliver freedom for Palestinians. Convincing millions of Americans across different sectors of society, that Israel is bad for the US, would.

    • echinococcus
      November 23, 2016, 6:36 pm

      People of color and other DNC obedient groups are not going to deliver freedom for Palestinians. Convincing millions of Americans across different sectors of society, that Israel is bad for the US, would.

      Very well said, Atlanta. Why else would “non-Zionist” tribals try everything bar physical violence to stop If Americans Knew? Why else would so many Palestine solidarity sites look like partisan politics clubs?
      On the other hand, dismissing minorities as outside the mainstream is not helpful, either. Identification of different oppressed minorities with the Palestinians is extremely helpful (while calling them “people of color” is undeniably idiotic.)

    • captADKer
      November 24, 2016, 11:44 am

      “Time to call a spade a spade. Obama and Sanders are cruel hoaxes. At least Trump never pretended to be even handed.”

      trump limited his racial innuendo to “hombre”.
      your racist colloquialism- “to call a spade a spade”, insults every BLM proponent of the palestinian cause

      • Keith
        November 24, 2016, 3:59 pm

        CAPTADKER- “your racist colloquialism- “to call a spade a spade”, insults every BLM proponent of the palestinian cause”

        There is no racial inference in the phrase “to call a spade a spade.” From Wikipedia:

        “To “call a spade a spade” is a figurative expression which refers to calling something “as it is”,[1] that is, by its right or proper name, without “beating about the bush”—being outspoken about it, truthfully, frankly, and directly, even to the point of being blunt or rude, and even if the subject is considered coarse, impolite, or unpleasant. The idiom originates in the classical Greek of Plutarch’s Apophthegmata Laconica, and was introduced into the English language in 1542 in Nicolas Udall’s translation of the Apophthegmes, where Erasmus had seemingly replaced Plutarch’s images of “trough” and “fig” with the more familiar “spade.” The idiom has appeared in many literary and popular works, including those of Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, W. Somerset Maugham, and Jonathan Swift.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_a_spade_a_spade

      • Mooser
        November 24, 2016, 4:51 pm

        Thanks, Keith!

  6. broadside
    November 23, 2016, 4:51 pm

    Just called his office to rant; mailbox is full.

  7. pabelmont
    November 23, 2016, 5:03 pm

    My email to Keith Ellison ( campaign@keithellison.org )

    Keith Ellison:

    The website MondoWeiss reports that you’ve spoken AGAINST BDS:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2016/11/ellison-placate-against/

    “I have long supported a two-state solution and a democratic
    and secure state for the Jewish people, with a democratic and
    viable Palestinian state side-by-side in peace and dignity,”
    Ellison said, in an emailed statement. “I don’t believe
    boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel helps us achieve
    that goal.”

    This is shocking. Perhaps you were asleep? How will Israel ever “come to
    the table” to negotiate peace unless and until some pressure is put on
    it? Since 1967 there’s been no pressure and no peace. Since 1967, Israel
    has moved about 10% of its Jewish (and of course only its Jewish)
    population into the occupied territories (West Bank and Golan Heights).
    Israel now says it is AGAINST 2SS. The present system is aparheid and
    will remain so until Israel is pressured to end it with 2SS or a
    democratic 1SS.

    There will never be justice or peace until there are sanctions
    threatened or imposed on Israel.

    If you so easily cave in on BDS (as it seems you have), how will you
    avoid caving in on all other issues of international-justice,
    economic-justice, environmental-justice, etc., that Bernie Sanders and
    his voters (I was one) think America (and the folks who normally make up
    the Democratic Party “base”) need, deserve, and demand.

    Why do you think Clinton lost, anyhow? It was because the
    democratic-oligarchic-aparatchik-establishment-neoliberal-elitist-imperialist-party-bosses
    IGNORED “the people” — the working people who’ve lost jobs, lost homes,
    lost faith, lost out in America.

    The USA needs a new party, a progressive party that cares for and fights
    for “the people” and not for the 1%. It is not necessary for that party
    to be called “The democratic Party” but that would be convenient. But
    that party must be progressive.

    And not PEP — Progressive Except for Palestine.

    Get with it! Get a backbone. If not now then after you are elected.

    — Peter Belmont

    • JJOR
      November 24, 2016, 12:31 pm

      “Why do you think Clinton lost, anyhow?”
      Lets see, Trump has 62,004,178 votes & Clinton has 63,757,077 votes, 1,752,899 more votes then Trump. The Republicans cheated again! See: http://www.gregpalast.com/heres-now-personal-note-greg-palast/
      The American People have spoken, Republicans can’t say that they know what Americans want.

      • Mooser
        November 24, 2016, 12:57 pm

        “Why do you think Clinton lost, anyhow?”

        She conceded much too soon, for one thing.

  8. Kay24
    November 23, 2016, 5:11 pm

    I guess we should not be surprised. Eventually, they all capitulate and kiss up to that great big behind. For a moment there I did have some hope that he will have the spine to be different.
    Let us not kid ourselves, we will never, ever, see an American leader have the courage to defy the establishment, and reject the zionist influence that has permeated into our system making it too toxic for us to cope with.

  9. Maghlawatan
    November 23, 2016, 6:37 pm

    Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, called Mr. Ellison “an important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism” but said he had taken positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “on which we strongly differ and that concern us.”

    The ADL cannot coherently simultaneously whine antisemitism and support Israeli Policy against the Palestinians.
    Nobody is sacred unless everbody is sacred.

  10. JLewisDickerson
    November 24, 2016, 6:23 am

    RE: Here’s some of that opposition (to Ellison): Scott Johnson, the “Trouble with Keith Ellison,” in The Weekly Standard — ‘The case against Ellison that should concern all Americans is moral. To borrow a term, he is a bad hombre’. ~ Weiss

    MY CONTRIBUTIONS:

    ■ A HOT, NEW COLOGNE FOR MEN

    ■ ARTICLE: “Here’s Why Trump’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Comment Was So Offensive”, by Carolina Moreno, HuffingtonPost.com, Updated Oct 26, 2016

    [EXCERPT] When Donald Trump uttered the words “bad hombres” during the final presidential debate last night, I shuddered.

    Not just because he mispronounced it as “bad hambres” (or “bad hungers”) but because he dared to use my native language and the language of Latinos’ ancestors to demean undocumented immigrants.

    On Wednesday night, when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump about immigration policy and reform, he began, as he often does, painting undocumented immigrants as violent criminals. (Despite research repeatedly proving native born citizens are more likely to be linked to violent crime than immigrants.) Then the GOP nominee moved on to drugs, drug lords and, again, the need to deport “bad people”:

    We’ll get them out, secure the border, and once the border is secured, at a later date we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.

    Politics aside, the language Trump uses is just as important as what he is, or rather isn’t, saying. Sure he’s repeatedly spoken about immigrants as if they were a biblical plague of sombrero-wearing, mustachioed criminals yelling “arriba! arriba!” as they run across the border with taco bowls filled with drugs. But on Wednesday night he turned to Spanish to make his point. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY/EDITORIAL – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/heres-why-trumps-bad-hombres-comment-was-so-offensive_us_5808e121e4b0180a36e9b995

    • JJOR
      November 24, 2016, 12:39 pm

      The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative opinion magazine, Talk about Fake News, these guys are lying all the time.

  11. Sassy
    November 24, 2016, 9:52 am

    If Ellison is against BDS then I’m against him. Find someone better, more courageous, more moral.

  12. Shura
    November 24, 2016, 2:14 pm

    Not so fast Keith, if you were a Palestinian waiting in line for hours at the checkpoint to go visit your brother you would not be saying that. Both of us fought apartheid of Dr. Voerword in South Africa. There is no place for apartheid anywhere else on this planet

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