WASHINGTON – The Democratic National Committee is having a big problem finding a new face to fill its critical vacancy as chairman in the wake of its loss of the presidency and its continued minority role in both houses of Congress in 2016.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first black Muslim ever to be elected to Congress, has emerged as the leading candidate, but has been entangled in a controversy over recent and older anti-Semitic public statements caught on recordings.
While the Anti-Defamation League had previously defended his candidacy, the recordings changed the minds of the leadership, which has since labeled them as “deeply disturbing and disqualifying” for the position.
To top it off, Ellison lied in writing to the ADL by telling the group his recorded statements were selectively edited and taken out of context.
“Confronted by his own words and facing a direct threat to his bid to become the next Democratic National Committee chairman, Congressman Keith Ellison flagrantly lied in a prepared statement on Thursday,” said Steve Emerson, the executive director the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The statement that changed the ADL’s position on Emerson was this one: “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. Can I say that again?” Emerson made the comment in a 2010 fundraiser for the state assembly candidacy of Esam Omeish, the former president of the Muslim American Society, a group created by Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States.
In 2007, Omeish was forced to resign from a Virginia immigration panel after the IPT produced a video of him praising Palestinians in 2000 for learning that “the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.” A second video, shot two months earlier, shows Omeish congratulating “our brothers and sisters in [Palestine] for their bravery, for their giving up their lives for the sake of Allah.”
An ADL statement said Ellison’s words, “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.”
Emerson points out Nihad Awad, the only executive director the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ever had, also attended the Omeish fundraiser. Court records show that Awad was a member of the Palestine Committee – a Muslim Brotherhood-created Hamas support network in the United States. So was CAIR, the organization he leads.
Awad attended a pivotal 1993 gathering of committee members in Philadelphia, which convened to discuss ways to “derail” the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords. Palestine Committee members opposed Oslo because it included recognition of Israel’s right to exist and because it empowered the secular Fatah movement over the Islamists in Hamas.
“We know this because the FBI secretly recorded the meeting,” said Emerson. “Six months later, Awad appeared in Miami, where he publicly stated that, after some research, ‘I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO.’”
Emerson continues: “When Keith Ellison stands before Omeish and Awad and asks whether it makes sense that America’s Middle East policy ‘is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people,’ or when he says ‘that country [Israel] has mobilized its diaspora in America to do its bidding in America,’ the context seems pretty clear.”
“Democrats should choose the candidate they think can best lead their party to success in the future.” says Emerson. “They might decide Ellison fits that description. But they do so armed with greater understanding of Ellison’s true feelings toward an issue pivotal for a lot of voters of all political persuasions.”