U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's 2010 comments about Israeli political influence, first reported Tuesday by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, are "deeply disturbing and disqualifying" to his bid to become head of the Democratic National Committee, the Anti-Defamation League announced in a statement Thursday afternoon.
In remarks given at a private fundraiser, Ellison, D-Minn. implied Israel enjoyed disproportionate and inappropriate control over U.S. foreign policy. The IPT obtained a recording of those comments:
"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?"
In Thursday's statement, ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said Ellison's comments expose a belief that American policy is driven not by the country's best interests, but by "religiously or national origin-based special 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."
Greenblatt defended Ellison last week against criticism of his past association with the Nation of Islam and his close relationships with Islamist groups like the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), both of which were created by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ellison "long ago ... disassociated himself from the [Nation of Islam] and apologized for its anti-Semitism," Greenblatt wrote. And, "we have seen no concrete evidence of any link between Ellison and the Brotherhood."
"He has been outspoken about anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in his role as a congressman. Local Jewish leadership in his district speaks highly of him," Greenblatt wrote.
But the 2010 comments exposed by the IPT changed all that. Bipartisan support for Israel, "our most important ally in the region, a democracy whose emphasis on equality and commitment to the rule of law stands in stark contrast to the anarchy and authoritarian regimes that prevail in much of the Middle East" is vital, Thursday's statement said. The next head of the Democratic Party should "have fidelity to these timeless ideals at all times."
The DNC is expected to choose its next leader in early 2017.