Why can’t Democratic leaders say they support Palestinian rights?

Keith Ellison, a congressional representative from Minnesota who hopes to win Saturday’s vote for Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, has once again abandoned Palestinian rights in his ongoing effort to secure the leadership of the Democratic Party’s top governing body.

During a debate for the candidates on Wednesday evening, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo challenged Ellison over support for Israel.

“President Trump has made the relationship with Israel central to his understanding of that region of the world,” Cuomo said. The CNN host asserted that if Ellison won, critics would be concerned that the new DNC leader is a person “who said that Israel could not be the only lens” through which “all foreign policy was seen” on behalf of “seven million people.”

Cuomo was confronting Ellison with a distorted version of comments he made in 2010 that were taken out of context by the widely discredited anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim extremist Steven Emerson as part of an effort to derail the congressman’s campaign for DNC chair.

Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Embracing party line

Despite surely knowing that Emerson’s smears lay behind Cuomo’s question, Ellison ran away from voicing any semblance of concern for Palestinian rights.

He emphasized his support for $27 billion in US aid to Israel that he had voted for as a lawmaker, aid that has undoubtedly been used to deepen Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian land. Ellison stressed his work with members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

He described himself as a “stalwart champion of the two-state solution” and insisted, “we’ve got to have Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security.”

Notably, Ellison failed to utter any word of criticism of Israel’s aggressive settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank that is intended to scuttle a two-state solution, or the fact that the Knesset continually passes laws to further curtail Palestinian rights and hamper the work of human rights organizations.

“Bipartisan consensus”

Trump recently upended decades of US policy by saying he was open to a one-state solution, but Ellison missed the opportunity to insist that if that were the case it would have to be a state in which Palestinians have full, equal rights.

Of the seven other candidates on stage, Ellison is the only one known for speaking out in the past about Israel’s abuses of Palestinians.

Yet in an ultimate embrace of Democratic Party orthodoxy Ellison said, “I believe that the US-Israel relationship is special and important. I’ve stood for that principle my whole service and my whole career.”

He vowed that as DNC chair he would work to “maintain the bipartisan consensus of US support for Israel.”

So if this was the line a one-time determined advocate for Palestinian rights was going to take at the debate, it is hardly surprising that neither Cuomo, co-host Dana Bash nor any of the other DNC hopefuls questioned why the US should continue its practically unconditional support for a country that has been violently subjugating Palestinians for decades.

Their silence meant that the surging progressive grassroots wing of the Democratic Party that sympathizes increasingly with Palestinians was effectively shut out of the discussion.

Ellison’s previous expressions of solidarity with Palestinians have been totally subordinated as Saturday’s vote for DNC chair by about 450 party officials looms.

At the previous DNC debate, the other frontrunner along with Ellison, former labor secretary in the Obama administration Tom Perez, was caught on camera fleeing from a reporter’s questions about Palestinian rights.

Breitbart News, the white nationalist mouthpiece formerly run by top Trump adviser Steve Bannon, noted that Ellison is endorsed by Charles Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, as well as by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Eric Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general.

Combining anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry in a single sentence, Breitbart asserted that these “left-wing Jews” were backing Ellison “in spite of his support for Islam.”

“Smears”

During the debate, Cuomo described Ellison as “dogged by your own questions about potential anti-Semitism.”

Ellison pushed back against what he termed “false allegations,” and pointed to the hundreds of rabbis and Jewish community leaders who have endorsed him.

“I have a long, strong history of interfaith dialogue, interfaith communication,” Ellison added. “I have strong support from the Jewish community. So these are smears and we’re fighting back every day.”

Before and during the debate, Ellison spoke much more forcefully about the recent surge in anti-Semitic incidents and threats than a reluctant President Trump.

“It is critical that we speak up against this anti-Semitism because right now, you have Jewish cemeteries being defaced and desecrated,” Ellison said during the debate. “Right now, you have Jewish institutions getting bomb threats. We have to stand with the Jewish community right here, right now.”

This exchange can be seen in the video at the top of this article.

Yet Ellison is the man labeled an “anti-Semite” by Haim Saban – the Israeli-American billionaire and Democratic Party mega-donor who admits that influencing US policy in favor of Israel is his number one priority.

Wednesday’s debate raises a question that is all the more urgent at a time when unrestrained bigotry is again widespread in American politics: why can’t would-be leaders of the Democratic Party stand both against anti-Semitism and clearly for Palestinians’ freedom in the face of rampant Israeli violations of their human rights?

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It's seldom surprising but shocking nonetheless to see how low an American politician will go to convince Zionists of his loyalty- even as they fling mud at him.

On hands and knees is one method. But Keith Ellison unveiled a personal variation. He managed to crawl across the stage on his tongue.

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All of which did him no good. He was beaten by complete non-entity backed by the party's big donors.

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Ellison denigrated himself to the Israel Lobby, thereby losing the respect of supporters of justice. And now the Lobby has humiliated him. It was about people like him that Khayyam said, "Fools, your reward is neither here nor there."

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What Keith Ellison has done in cowardly grovelling and, excuse the expression, ass-kissing to the Illegitimate Israel Lobby is nothing new.
But, massive and monumental American ignorance as to what actually goes on in Illegitimate Israel and Zionist actions towards Muslim Palestinians, and Arabs who are Christians and Druze, as well as toward Sudanese and Ethiopian refugees whether it is verbal abuse, physical assault, or--regularly--murder is nothing new.
American politicans' lust for power and money supersedes human rights of everyone else in the world, except if they happen to be Zionist Jews of course.
As George Galloway once said a number of years ago, the Israel Lobby is a paper tiger. Once a few politicians begin to speak up and tell the absolute truth, without fear, about what Israel is, and don't relent, the Lobby will collapse, as it is beginning to now.
I think the late Victor Hugo said it best, "There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come".
That idea now is the demise and dissolution of Illegitimate Israel, a racist, fascist, apartheid, imperialist, genocidal, illegitimate state. Oh, excuse me, I almost forgot, a parasite (to the tune of 38 billion American taxpayer dollars a year) Illegitimate State. And, the rise of a secular state, not called Illegitimate Israel but called Palestine.
We are now witnessing here in the U.S., it has already begun in the rest of the world, the demise and dissolution of Illegitimate Israel. It is now only a matter of time before a one state called Palestine will rise again.
Finally, the world be better off for it.

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Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune, TheNation.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.