I have been involved in national elections for about 50 years. I recall as a student advocating first for Hubert Humphrey (1968) and then George McGovern (1972) when they ran against Richard Nixon.
I worked for the election of Bill Clinton and the candidacy of the Gore/Lieberman ticket. I remember a long-shot Senate candidate named Barack Obama, in a bar across the street from the AIPAC convention, telling me of his commitment to the safety and security of Israel.
In later years, I expanded my advocacy to take on a more bipartisan character. But one consistent thing I found in all those years and among the hundreds of congressional members and leaders of the Democratic Party I worked with was a strong commitment to U.S.-Israel relations.
This partnership between the pro-Israel American community and the Democratic Party has been steadfast and beneficial to our nation, to our ally Israel, and consistent with the sentiments of the vast majority of Americans.
America loves Israel and Israel loves America. There is a natural connection between America, the greatest force for good in the history of mankind, and Israel, miraculously brought back to life after 2,000 years as a light in the most troubled part of the world.
The Democratic Party has made that connection a pillar of its platform since Harry Truman recognized Israel in 1948, minutes after the new nation declared its independence.
This legacy of the Democratic Party has, however, been placed at risk with the candidacy of Congressman Keith Ellison for Democratic National Committee chair. Given his troubling voting record on Israel and disturbing past affiliations, Rep. Ellison’s ascension to that position could spell disaster for the Democratic Party and the bipartisan nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Ellison has served in Congress since 2007, but his controversial actions preceded his election. During the 1990s, he served as a local spokesman in Minnesota for Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Ellison publicly claimed in 1995 that Farrakhan “is not an anti-Semite.”
During his successful 2006 congressional campaign, Ellison received roughly $50,000 in campaign contributions that were given or raised by officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was spun off from Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a group that was found to have ties to Hamas.
In 2009, although the majority of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress rejected the heavily biased UN Goldstone Report, Ellison argued that it “only presents facts and raises recommendations for the future.” (Even the author of the report had serious regrets about it in hindsight.)
Ellison was the congressman who initiated the 2010 “Gaza 54” letter, asking the administration to pressure Israel to ease the blockade of Gaza. He has gone on Twitter and publicly compared the treatment of Palestinians under Israel to “apartheid.”
In 2014, during that summer’s outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Ellison was one of only eight members in the House to vote against a bill to provide emergency funding to Israel for the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system – this at a time when Israeli towns were under a constant barrage of Hamas rocket fire.
The person who heads the DNC will be responsible for the party’s platform stance on issues such as America’s response to the Iranian nuclear weapons program and our relationship with Israel and its neighbors. It can be fairly stated that Ellison has one of the worst records on U.S.-Israel relations in Congress. The clear disdain for Israel and its close relationship with America that Ellison has demonstrated is at odds with the party and the nation.