Partners for Progressive Israel rejects recent attacks on Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) claiming that he should be disqualified as a candidate for the position of Chairman of the Democratic Party because of his position on Israel and Palestine. PPI takes no position on who should be selected for Democratic Party Chairman. But we insist that the attacks on Ellison as anti-Semitic or an enemy of Israel are baseless, and nothing he has said or done should disqualify him from the position. Ellison has a long history of supporting a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and his support for an equitable resolution has been vouched for by many who know him well, in Minneapolis as well as Washington.
The Anti-Defamation League has attacked Ellison’s 2010 comments about Israel and the Middle East as “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” Accusations that Ellison is an anti-Semite (made explicitly by important people like Haim Saban) are completely groundless and disgraceful. Ellison’s record as Congressman does not show the slightest trace of anti-Semitism. His relations with Jewish organizations in Minneapolis and with Jewish politicians (including Sens Schumer and Franken) are excellent. Meretz MK Tammy Zandberg writes from Israel that Ellison’s position on Israel is the same as on every other issue: “a progressive position, peaceful, promoting justice and equality, opposing racism, Anti-Semitism, chauvinism and homophobia of any kind and from every direction.” The fact that Ellison was the first American Muslim elected to the House of Representatives only underscores the potential damage these unfounded accusations against Ellison could create in this difficult period.
At a time when we face an incoming administration in Washington that will likely give unprecedented support to the Israeli right and supporters of settlement expansion, it is crucial that the Democratic Party, and all who support a just and equitable solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, speak freely and frankly about the past strengths, weaknesses, and mistakes in American policy. The road ahead will likely be difficult. It will not be made easier by trying to intimidate legitimate critics of American policy. PPI, a longtime supporter of a just and secure peace in the Middle East for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, finds Cong. Ellison’s views to be wholly consistent with its own.