Anti-Semitic? Disqualifying? Keith Ellison’s views on Israel are the same as most U.S. Jews - Opinion
It would be tragic if a smear campaign espoused by the Jewish community kept Keith Ellison from the leadership position Democrats desperately need him to fill.
When my grandmother, a Polish Holocaust survivor, passed away in 1998, my family set up an annual memorial lecture in her honor at her Cincinnati synagogue. When I was twelve years old, my father’s close friend and then-colleague in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Keith Ellison, flew from Minnesota to Ohio to support our family and attend the lecture.
After listening to the story of my grandmother’s life and hearing from groups fighting hate speech in the United States, my dad, Keith and I took a trip to the newly opened National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum on the other side of town.
I remember Keith telling me of his ancestors’ history from slavery to the Civil Rights movement. He spoke about how his connection to his family’s history of survival and resistance motivated him to dedicate his life to fighting for justice for all people.
Our generational histories of trauma are very different, but our trip to Cincinnati has stayed with me as I participate in the fight for social justice, grounded in my own Jewish community and history.
In the fourteen years since, Congressman Keith Ellison has remained a close friend to my family, and a supportive mentor and role model to me. As a rabbinic student, I have therefore been baffled and deeply disturbed that claims of Congressman Ellison’s anti-Semitism have gained traction within the Jewish community and beyond.
The Anti-Defamation League’s accusation that Congressman Ellison made anti-Semitic statements (based on out of context quotes), coupled with Haim Saban’s recent claims that he is “clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel person” could not be farther from my own experiences with Congressman Ellison over the past decade and half.