Democrats Must Scrutinize Keith Ellison’s Antisemitic Past and Ties to Radical Islam
Despite the furor over Trump aide Steve Bannon’s alleged antisemitism, there’s been virtually no media attention paid to the person likely to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN).
The man poised to head the Democrat Party was a spokesman for the Nation of Islam (NOI) well into his 30s, who publicly spewed antisemitism and, later in life, as a Congressional candidate, knowingly accepted $50,000 in campaign contributions given and raised by Islamic radicals who openly supported terrorism and were leaders of front groups for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
And once in office as a congressman, Ellison more than hinted that 9/11 was an inside job carried out to create a pretext for war against Muslims – a trope often pushed by antisemites who claim Israeli or “Mossad” complicity, by comparing the toppling of the Twin Towers to the Reichstag Fire, the infamous 1933 arson of the German Parliament building, which the Nazis pinned on Communists to gain majority control of the government.
To be clear, Ellison has never genuinely repudiated his past antisemitism or his close association with the terror-tied Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) or its co-founder, Nihad Awad, who has publicly supported Islamic terrorism.
Because Ellison’s record has received precious little attention in the mainstream media – especially compared to the ad nauseam repetition of a few nuggets about Bannon – it seems necessary to give a highlight reel that demonstrates the judgment and decisions of the man poised to run one of the two main political parties in America.
Though Ellison acknowledged in a deeply dishonest letter of “apology” to the local Jewish community during his 2006 run for Congress that he had been “involved” with Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, he falsely minimized his past role as a leader in a religious organization rife with overt antisemitism and hateful bigotry.
For nearly a decade, from law school through his first run for state representative in 1998, Ellison openly identified with the NOI. This was not simply a question of religious observance. He was dedicated to slamming “Zionism” and Jews, while repeatedly and vocally defending Farrakhan. As a law student and proud NOI member in 1990, Ellison helped sponsor a speech, entitled, “Zionism: Imperialism, White Supremacy or Both?”– according to the respected Scott Johnson of the Power Line blog, who also noted that “Ellison reject[ed] the appeal of Jewish law students to withdraw sponsorship of the lecture.”
In 1995, Ellison wrote in a local Minneapolis newspaper — under his nom de guerre, “Keith X Ellison” — a stirring defense of the NOI’s repugnant and unabashed antisemitic leader, stating emphatically, “Farrakhan is a role model for Black youth.” He even went the extra step of denying decades of evidence, saying, “[H]e is not an anti-Semite.”
But that was just the warm-up for Ellison’s own antisemitism. Although in his May 2006 letter of apology to the Jewish community, Ellison claimed that “at no time did I ever share [the NOI and Farrakhan’s] hateful views or repeat or approve of their hateful statements directed at Jews,” he actually did espouse antisemitism – and quite publicly, at that.
In 1997, a local Minneapolis “anti-racism” panel was embroiled in controversy because one of its members, Joanne Jackson, had reportedly said, “Jews are the most racist white people I know.” Even though she later denied making the comments, Ellison rather curiously stepped forward to defend her at a public hearing held after she had disavowed her antisemitic comments. According to a news story about the hearing, the local paper of record, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reported that Ellison “read a statement supporting Jackson.” Acting as a spokesman for the NOI, a 33-year-old Ellison read aloud that he was there to “support the truth” of her alleged comment that “Jews are the most racist white people.” One of his pieces of evidence was that “in some Black areas, some exploitative shopkeepers are, yes, Jewish.”
It should be more than a little concerning that he felt the need to defend and expound upon the antisemitic remarks attributed to a woman who had already disclaimed any connection to them.
If Ellison’s troubling judgment had ended in the 1990’s, that would be one thing. But he continued to exhibit tight bonds with people whose views are, if anything, more disturbing than Farrakhan’s, right up until he entered Congress.
During his 2006 campaign, which ultimately won him his first term in the House, Ellison received roughly $50,000 in campaign contributions that were given or raised by CAIR, a spin-off of Hamas front group the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). Several senior CAIR employees have been jailed and convicted for ties to terrorism, and IAP apparently shuttered in 2004, after its was found liable in a civil court case of supporting Hamas.
Ellison’s contact with CAIR was not casual or incidental. At the time of his campaign, Ellison was in a nearly two-decade-long friendship with CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad, who declared in a 1994 speech at Florida’s Barry University, “I’m in support of the Hamas movement.” Hamas, of course, is a recognized terrorist organization dedicated to the mass murder of Jews and destruction of Israel.
Meanwhile, Awad’s CAIR co-founder, Omar Ahmad, explained his bizarre support for terrorism at the 1999 conference of the IAP, where both he and Awad served as senior officials before starting CAIR in 1994. In his speech, Ahmad praised suicide bombers who “kill themselves for Islam,” adding, “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam.” (Transcript provided by the Investigative Project.) Ahmad was glorifying suicide bombers at a youth session, where he was addressing teenagers and perhaps children even younger than that.
But, at a Minneapolis-area fundraiser for Ellison before the September 2006 primary, Awad was the headlining speaker. In a call at the time, this journalist was told by the Ellison campaign that the event raised upwards of $20,000. A month earlier, Awad had bundled $10,000 in contributions for the campaign (including his own $2,000 check). The month after my September 2006 reporting about this financial support from Awad and CAIR officials, Ellison traveled to Florida for yet another CAIR-hosted fundraiser, which netted more than $20,000.
Ellison also received $500 from Esam Omeish, former president of the Muslim Brotherhood front group, the Muslim American Society. Omeish has publicly defended the “moderate” views of the Muslim Brotherhood and reportedly pushed for the hiring at his local Northern Virginia mosque of the radical cleric Anwar al-Alwaki, who later took refuge in Yemen as a spiritual leader of and recruiter for al Qaeda. (In 2011, al-Alwaki famously became the first American targeted and killed by a drone strike.)
And Ellison did not put his radicalism behind him once he was elected – despite receiving positive press as the first Muslim congressman. In video footage that can be found on any number of websites, Ellison winkingly promoted that dangerous libel that 9/11 was an inside job, with the implication that it was done to justify war against Muslims.
Analogizing 9/11 to the 1933 arson of the German Parliament building believed by many to have been set by the Nazis, but blamed on the Communists in order for Hitler’s party to purge his political opponents and seize majority control of the government, Ellison told a gathering of several hundred atheists, “It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that.”
“After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted,” Ellison said.
Disturbingly, the atheists in attendance cheered his shocking reference to the Nazis, which essentially painted Bush as Hitler and Muslims as being subsequently victimized after 9/11 in the way that Communists were by Nazis after the burning.
To make clear that he was suggesting 9/11 was a giant conspiracy, Ellison sarcastically stated that he was not claiming such a thing, because “you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box – dismiss you.”
While Islamists are not the only “truthers” who believe that 9/11 was a massive conspiracy, one of the greatest recruiting tools employed by Islamic terrorists over the past 15 years has been the libel that the largest terror attack ever on US soil was carried out by some combination of the Bush administration and Israel in order to launch wars against the Muslim nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether Ellison picked it up from Islamist propagandists or from secular Leftist radicals who merely want to besmirch America doesn’t matter, of course.
And yes, he did apologize later having effectively compared Bush to Hitler and suggesting that 9/11 was an inside job, but is it comforting for the Democrats to choose as their leader a man who had to later acknowledge that he believed that Osama bin Laden was, in fact, behind the 9/11 attacks? Even with the apology, don’t Democrats worry about the belief system of a man who could propagate such a hideous libel as a member of Congress?
Before what appears to be a coronation of Ellison as head of the DNC is completed, Democrats ought to be asking themselves if they want to be represented by a man who never actually acknowledged, let alone apologized for, his antisemitism; who never apologized for his embrace of Islamic radicals; and who possesses the capacity in the first place to suggest 9/11 was a US government plan to murder 3,000 Americans to create pretext in order to launch wars against two Muslim nations.
Joel Mowbray runs a consulting firm that advises Silicon Valley tech companies and several Middle East-focused nonprofits. Joel is an award-winning former syndicated columnist and investigative journalist whose work led to major reforms at the US State Department, including the ending of the “Visa Express” program that allowed 3 of the 9/11 terrorists into the US. Joel was motivated by the 9/11 attacks to leave his tech career to focus on counter-terrorism. A version of this article originally appeared in The Daily Caller.