Friday, December 2, 2016

ADL v. Keith Ellison by Josh Marshall

With Howard Dean's withdrawal Keith Ellison is the odds on favorite to head the Democratic National Committee - the fundraising arm of the Party.  No one else speaks for the party the way its National Committee does.  Every candidate - even the leaders in Congress - is protecting his or her own electoral future.  Only the DNC speaks for the whole unwieldy coalition.

Unless you are Jimmy Carter who as a peacemaker accomplished more than every other President combined it is nearly impossible in the American universe of discourse to speak with candor.   Peace cannot come without recognition and resolution of the plight of the Palestinians.  (See Ben Ehrenreich - The Way to the Spring - Life and Death in Palestine.)  It is plain that Benjamin Netanyahu is not interested in finding that way. Donald Trump is incapable of it.

This awkward quote from Ellison is cherry picked by a notorious Islamophobe.   If you click through to his reply to the ADL you will find Ellison affirms in a dignified way the necessity of our commitment to protect Israel.
But there is a deeper issue  - because this quote - which will live in its current form - is a problem because it clouds the debate and raises fear that he will be careless in a position which requires the utmost balance.  - gwc

Keith Ellison
by Josh Marshall
I wanted to share a few thoughts about Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) who is running for DNC Chair and is now at the center of a growing storm of criticism in large part because the ADL put out a statement saying statements by Ellison recorded in 2010 are "disturbing and disqualifying." The latter, categorical word "disqualifying" is the key one. We reported the ADL comments yesterday.
Here are my thoughts.
Here is the Ellison quote, apparently from a Q&A at some event ...
“The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people," the ADL's statement quotes Ellison as saying at the time. "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.”
I find this whole development profoundly unfortunate.
The quote itself, dug up by one of the most scurrilous and tendentious Islamophobes in Washington, make me wince a bit. But the quote is also true to a significant degree. Do we really think US policy on Israel isn't significantly impacted by the activism of American Jews and even more in recent years by that of Christian evangelicals? Do we also think the Cuban embargo has nothing to do with the power of the Cuban emigre community? Ellison says the recording is edited and taken out of context - here's his reply to the ADL. (The guy who released it, Steve Emerson, is the dirtiest, most tendentious kind of player out there. He should release the entire recording.) But I'm talking about the quote as is. Ellison is not an anti-Semite. He's not anti-Israel. I think the ADL is wrong to call the comments "disqualifying" and wrong about how it's treating this entire issue.
I think this is profoundly unfortunate because truly the last thing the Democratic Party needs right now is a toxic internecine fight over Israel. And equally important, we are in an era when real anti-Semitism has been rearing its head in the United States in a way it has not done in 80s. That makes the ADL more important than it has been in a very long time. (Since the election, I've been reminding myself that I want to send checks to the SPLC and the ADL.) So it pains me in a very deep way to see a misfire like this.

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