(December 7, 2016 / JNS) By Abraham H. Miller/JNS.org
Haim Saban is wrong when he says Minnesota’s U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is unqualified to head the Democratic National Committee. Ellison’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic lineages do not disqualify him from the position. They more than qualify him.
It is Ellison, not Saban—the Israeli-American mega-donor to both the Democratic Party and pro-Israel causes—who represents the Democrats’ true colors. The party has been abandoning support for the Jewish state for well over a decade. Recent studies by Brookings, Gallup, and Pew reveal a growing gap of support for Israel between Democrats, independents, and Republicans. Israel, an issue that should never be partisan, is strongly supported by Republicans and independents. Democrats? Not so much.
When there are anti-Israel demonstrations and anti-Semitic activity on our college campuses, it is not the Young Republicans declaring allegiance to the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas. Progressives are chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This call for the destruction of Israel and murder of the Jewish people comes from leftist groups, not Christian organizations.
This is the party that generates more sackcloth and ashes over a Jew building an extra bathroom in eastern Jerusalem than an Iranian building a nuclear device in Tehran. Democrats remain silent over the murder of gays in Iran and inhumane treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, while condemning Israel when they defend their citizens from rocket attacks launched from Gaza.
President Barack Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood while it forcibly imposed a sharia law-oriented government on the Egyptian people. This is the party that was virtually silent as the Islamist government of Mohammed Morsi persecuted and murdered Coptic Christians. This is the party that wanted Morsi’s regime restored after millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand his removal.
When the Egyptian military, under former military leader and now President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, took control of the government from the Islamists, the Obama administration still clung to the Islamists.
This is the party that overthrew the stable government of Libya and gave us a failed state that now serves the interests of the Islamists and has become an open door for Muslim refugees fleeing to Europe.
On Jan. 21, 2009, Agence France-Presse reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, quoted the newly elected President Obama as saying, “This is my first phone call to a foreign leader and I’m making it only hours after I took office.”
In view of the palpable anti-Israel and anti-Semitic vitriol that permeates large segments of the Democratic Party, the question that I am most commonly asked by intelligent, politically astute gentiles is, how can Jews continue to vote for the Democrats?
The answer is complicated. Most American Jews are leftists first and Jews second. There is also a mistaken Jewish notion of tikkun olam, the responsibility to repair the world, which is invoked most frequently in Reform and Conservative denominational circles. In today’s America, tikkun olam has come to mean following Democratic policies of redistributing wealth.
Ellison’s bid to become chair of the DNC would be entirely fitting. He embodies the growing anti-Semitism and prevailing anti-Zionism of the real Democratic Party, not the one Saban tells himself exists so he can sleep at night.
Perhaps, with Ellison at its head, Jews will no longer be able to deny what the Democratic Party really stands for when it comes to issues that are crucial to their very existence as a people with both a spiritual and Zionist identity.
Saban is correct in his assessment of Ellison as an anti-Israel anti-Semite. But would Ellison really be a “disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party,” as Saban predicts? No. It would be more of wake-up call for a stiff-necked people.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on Twitter @salomoncenter.