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False Allegations of Anti-Semitism Hurt Progress

Triangulation isn’t dead, and it’s coming for Keith Ellison

Democratic elite are stuck inside of a silo, perpetuating an agenda inconsistent with the needs of everyday people.

There is no evidence that Keith Ellison ascribes to anti-Semitism as a practice or belief. The statements being used to prove Keith Ellison is something he is not, have been proven to be false. With Howard Dean out and candidates like Jaime Harrison failing to gain steam, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is the clear front-runner to lead the Democratic Party and clean house. With his, and by extension, the Sanders wing of the party ascending, the establishment members of “Team Clinton” have gone back to an old trick from their triangulation playbook.  Democrats have spent nearly the last decade hemorrhaging seats at all levels of government.  Instead of building up state and local parties and looking to progressive leadership to help reinvigorate the “base”, democratic elites are doubling down on scare tactics and false rhetoric. 

Suddenly, in a suspiciously coordinated fashion, various publications have published articles or “investigations” which claim to reveal troublesome past ties Rep. Ellison allegedly has to radical black Muslim leaders, criticism of Israeli policy, and anti-Semitic rhetoric. To keen observers, a pattern may start to reveal itself. When a black liberal with progressive leanings begins to rise within the party these same attacks seem to be lobbed at them. From Ellison to Obama, and even all the way back through Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns, the democratic elites turn on them with claims of anti-Semitic rhetoric and anti-Israeli sentiment.

These types of repeated attacks are going to become more contentious over time as the generational shift on opinions regarding Palestine become more divided and millennials increase their vote share within the party. A pew study earlier this year discovered that millennial support for Palestine is increasing rapidly.  Among Sanders’ primary voters, support for Palestine was actually higher than for Israel. As the intra-left fight continues, this dispute over progressive leaders being pressured into showing deference to Israel could be a microcosm of the shifting ideology of the Democratic Party across different policy spectrums. We can expect more backhanded dirty tactics like the ones being brought back against Ellison to show up as the debate expands.

Despite the vicious accusations put for by the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Voices for Peace released a statement explaining why they supported Rep. Ellison and how his commitment to fairness and equity embodied their values. 

The reactionary forces attacking Representative Ellison do not support the civil and human rights of all people; they are hard-line supporters of Israel for whom any criticism of Israeli actions—such as opposing the expansion of settlements on the West Bank and denying Palestinians’ basic human rights—is “anti-Semitic.” This focus on false accusations of anti-Semitism against those who support Palestinian human rights is misplaced, and diverts attention away from the need to challenge the anti-Semitism that goes hand in hand with racism and Islamophobia. This is particularly harmful in the current context as hate crimes, harassment, and state violence against Muslims and people of color are on the rise, emboldened by the political climate.  Letter In Support of Keith Ellison” – Jewish Voices for Peace  


The measure of a man, of a good leader, is more than a few statements taken out of context.  A measure of a man, of a good leader, is the full review of his work on behalf of the people he has sworn to serve.  Rep. Ellison has diligently fought battles on behalf of many people and groups, despite differences in identity or ideology, for years.

It is highly suspicious that at a time when the U.S. Senate is fast-tracking legislation to squash the BDS movement and any vocal opposition to perceived shortcomings of the Israeli government, we have this attack on one of Congress’ leading progressive voices. Rep. Ellison is not beyond reproach. However, the smear of his character, content, and career is unparalleled in the wake of needed Democratic party unity and leadership void. It seems as though certain members of the Democratic elite are more wedded to maintaining power and influence than building the best possible party going forward. The Democratic party is in dire straits with massive losses at the state and local level, and there is only a sliver of hope at turning this around for the party. That cannot happen with these types of attacks on highly regarded leaders.  

Like Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson before him, Keith Ellison is being expected to jump through hoops and pass purity tests that do not exist for his white counterparts.  To be clear this is as much an attack on Rep. Ellison for his blackness as it is for how he came to his faith.  What is most bothersome and hypocritical is that Rep. Ellison is the third prominent African-American politician attacked for alleged anti-Semitism this year while nothing could be farther from the truth.  The Democrats, the alleged rainbow coalition, show extreme levels of intolerance to differences in opinion and lack the critical thinking skills necessary to move our country forward.  Donna Edwards (D – MD) and Dwight Bullard (D – FL), both strong public advocates in their respective states, were eviscerated for statements concerning support or sympathy toward the plight of Palestinians.  

Claiming Black leaders are anti-Semitic is a sure way to silence them and deny them access to power in this country.  When the Anti-Defamation League has a softer stance toward Trump supporter Steve Bannon, you know there is more than meets the eye to these attacks on Rep. Ellison.  This is supposed to be a time when “we” are coming together to fight the so-called evil that is Donald Trump and his cronies.  We need the best possible people on our side to do so.  False attacks only show the crony capitalist for who they really are and undermine any attempts for the Democratic Party to rebuild and begin regaining lost seats and ultimately the presidency in 2020.  Sadly Haim Saban, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC and others are willing to forsake all of us for their pet issue, which isn’t even really being addressed by the false attack against Ellison.  Besides Rep. Ellison has already pledged an oath of fealty to their singular interest swearing off the legitimacy of the BDS movement.  Yet because he does not completely conform to the particular view by these corporatist interest, he is being deemed unfit.  Even if there was some truth to the allegations against Ellison (which there isn’t) if Hillary Clinton can “evolve” in her stance on various issues, why can’t he?  

Bottom line, there is a problem with anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism etc in this country. However, the movement to address these issues is subverted when false accusations are leveled at the feet of noted allies in these areas. Accusing Keith Ellison of being anti-semitic undermines the battle against anti-Semitism and reinforces the power of certain interests who will distort people’s records without repercussion.  Mainstreaming such attacks within Democratic circles should be alarming for those who claim to abhor the “take this country/party” back type rhetoric. This is the time to reject demagoguery and false accusations.


Written by Anoa Changa

Mom 1st, Lawyer 2nd. Anoa Changa is Director of Political Advocacy and a Managing Editor of Progressive Army, as well as a member of its Editorial Board. She hosts The Way with Anoa, Wednesdays at 9pm ET on YouTube . Follow her on Twitter @TheWayWithAnoa. "Never tell me the odds." - Han Solo

Written by Solomon Russell

A progressive ready to build a movement fighting for more than just the vague notion of Hope & Change.

Solomon Russell has been a member of Progressive Army since 2015.

One Comment

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  1. The Machiavellian nature of the Clinton political machine becomes spotlighted whenever they go against someone they perceive as a political enemy. Rather than see a progressive Democrat become chair of the DNC, they will tell whatever lies they think will be useful in stopping him. Since he is black and Muslim, charges of anti-Semitism are in order. Their allies in the corporate mass media will cooperate. If they succeed in getting another neoliberal neocon as DNC chair, what progressive remain in the Democratic party should exit and leave the party to its terminal decay.

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Keith Ellison is running for chair of the DNC.

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False Allegations of Anti-Semitism Hurt Progress