The Smear Campaign Against Keith Ellison Is Repugnant but Reveals Much About Washington

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The Smear Campaign Against Keith Ellison Is Repugnant but Reveals Much About Washington

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the University of Minnesota's Northrop Auditorium in October. (Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr/cc)

Ever since he announced his candidacy to lead the Democratic National Committee, Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, has been the target of a defamation campaign that is deceitful, repugnant, and yet quite predictable. At first expressed in whispers, but now being yelled from the rooftops by some of the party’s most influential figures, Ellison is being smeared as both an anti-Semite and enemy of Israel — the same smears virtually any critic of the Israeli government reflexively encounters, rendered far worse if the critic is a prominent American Muslim.

Three days ago, the now ironically named Anti-Defamation League pronounced Ellison’s 2010 comments about Israel “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” Other Israel advocates have now joined in. What are Ellison’s terrible sins? He said in a 2010 speech that while he “wanted the U.S. to be friends with Israel,” the U.S. “can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM.”

As the full speech makes clear, he was referring to the indisputable fact that while Israel continues to take billions of dollars every year from the U.S. — far more than any other country receives in aid — it continually disregards and violates U.S. requests to stop ongoing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, often in ways seemingly designed to impose the greatest humiliation on its benefactor:

Stop, you know why are we sending a mill — $2.8 billion dollars a year over there when they won’t even honor our request to stop building in East Jerusalem? Where is the future Palestinian state going to be if it’s colonized before it even gets up off the ground? …

… Now you got Clinton, Biden, and the president who’s told them — stop. Now this has happened before. They beat back a president before. Bush 41 said — stop, and they said — we don’t want to stop, and by the way we want our money and we want it now. [Ellison laughs.] Right? You know, I mean we can’t allow, we’re Americans, right? We can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM. Right? And so we ought to stand up as Americans.

Equally sinful in the eyes of the ADL was this statement on U.S. foreign policy:

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? [A male says “no.”] Is that logic? Right? When the people who, when the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.

As J.J. Goldberg of The Forward noted, Ellison wasn’t lamenting the insidious influence of U.S. Jews — as the ADL shamefully claimed — but rather was “plainly describing how American Muslims could have greater influence on American policy if they learned to organize.”

And agree or disagree with those positions, it is an indisputable fact that Israel receives far more in U.S. aid than any other country yet continually does exactly that which numerous U.S. presidents have insisted it not do, often to the detriment of U.S. interests. And many prominent foreign policy experts — including David Petraeus — have warned that excessive U.S. support for the worst actions of the Israeli government endangers U.S. national security by alienating Arabs in the region and fueling support for anti-American terrorism. The idea that a member of Congress is not permitted to debate these policies without being branded an anti-Semite is sheer insanity: malicious insanity at that.

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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