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Politics & Policy

Keith Ellison’s Very Bad Week

From the last Morning Jolt of the week…

Keith Ellison’s Bad Week

You know that Minnesota Congressman and aspiring DNC Chair Keith Ellison has had a bad week when yesterday’s news about his imam’s views on homosexuality is only the third- or fourth-worst bit of news for him in the past day.

Admittedly, they’re tough to rank. Probably atop the list is the Anti-Defamation League statement declaring Ellison unacceptable as the head of the Democratic Party:

When Rep. Ellison’s candidacy to be chair of the Democratic National Committee was first reported, ADL did not rush to judgment.  Instead, we took a hard look at the totality of his record on key issues on our agenda. We spoke to numerous leaders in the community and to Mr. Ellison himself. ADL’s subsequent statement on his candidacy appreciated his contrition on some matters, acknowledged areas of commonality but clearly expressed real concern where Rep. Ellison held divergent policy views, particularly related to Israel’s security.

New information recently has come to light that raises serious concerns about whether Rep. Ellison faithfully could represent the Democratic Party’s traditional support for a strong and secure Israel. In a speech recorded in 2010 to a group of supporters, Rep. Ellison is heard suggesting that American foreign policy in the Middle East is driven by Israel, saying: “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.”

Rep. Ellison’s remarks are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.  His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests. Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S. 

Ellison says his remarks were “selectively edited and taken out of context.”

Then there’s the Free Beacon, finding unsavory details of Ellison’s 2008 trip to Saudi Arabia:

Ellison, now a leading candidate to head the Democratic National Committee, was brought to Saudi Arabia for a two-week trip by the Muslim American Society (MAS), a group founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood to act as its “overt arm” in the United States.

Details of Ellison’s religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia are scarce, but photographs discovered by the Washington Free Beacon show that Ellison met with controversial figures during the trip.

A photo album of Ellison’s hajj trip posted by MAS’s Minnesota chapter includes a picture of the congressman meeting with Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who was vice president of a Muslim Brotherhood-created group that in 2004 issued a fatwa urging “jihad” against U.S. troops in Iraq and supported the Palestinians’ Second Intifada against Israel.

Then there’s Rep. Tim Ryan, unsuccessful challenger to Nancy Pelosi, declaring that the next Democratic National Committee chair has to treat the job as a full-time job, a fairly commonsense perspective that would either eliminate Ellison as an option or require him to resign from the House.

Ellison is also sure to face questions about his younger years as a member of the Nation of Islam and defender of Louis Farrakhan for a decade. Ellison renounced his membership in 2006. Ellison’s imam, Makram El-Amin, is also a former member of the Nation of Islam. El-Amin’s father was a minister in the Nation of Islam and a bodyguard for Elijah Mohammad, the founder.

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