A number of outlets have called bullsh%$ on this most recently The Foreward, formerly known as the Yiddish Daily Forward, which declares that his so-called antisemitic speech is a result of deliberately deceptive editing:
If you’ve been following the uproar over Congressman Keith Ellison and his run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, you might recall hearing about a 36-second audio clip containing a snippet of an Ellison speech that, according to his critics, proves he’s anti-Israel and shouldn’t get the job. You may even have listened to the clip and been left wondering exactly what it means.While this is not an official OP/ED of The Forward editors, it is from its former editor-in-chief, Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg.
If so, you’re in luck. The other 22 minutes of Ellison’s speech are now available for your listening pleasure. You can listen and make up your own mind.
Some background: The audio file captures Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, addressing a 2010 campaign fundraising event for a fellow Muslim who was running (unsuccessfully) for the Virginia state legislature. Ellison is heard claiming that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is “governed” by “what’s good or bad” for a certain nation of 7 million. Translation: Israel’s welfare is a primary goal of American policy.
He goes on to say that American Muslims could wield their own influence on American policy if they got more involved in the political process. In other words, donate tonight and help the Muslim cause. More on that later.
I posted a piece on Friday morning dissecting various bits of evidence that Ellison’s critics cite to prove he’s anti-Israel, including the 36-second audio. I expressed skepticism about the case against him. Regarding the audio, I wrote that it could just as easily be understood as a description of plain fact: that Israel’s welfare ranks high among U.S. policy priorities and Muslims might have more influence if they were better organized. That Israel’s advantage is held up not for condemnation so much as emulation.
It’s worth noting that the first interpretation — the ADL’s reading — accords with the image of Ellison as an Israel-hater that’s popular in conservative Jewish circles. The second, more benign reading, on the other hand, jibes with the picture of Ellison portrayed by the Democratic leadership in Congress and virtually the entire leadership of the Jewish community in Ellison’s hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul, where he’s consistently described as a friend and ally of the community and a supporter of Israel.
Well, on Friday afternoon I got an email from Steven Emerson. He wrote that there was no intention to leave the audience dangling, and that the full speech, audio and transcript, was about to be released. And sure enough, an hour later the full speech appeared on the project’s website. Click here to read and listen to the full 22-minute speech.
Fifth, in case anyone thought he was advocating extreme action, he’s calling for “public diplomacy.” He says it twice. And, he adds, crucially: “This is not to say that I don’t want the U.S. to be friends with Israel.” (Having trouble sorting out all the double and triple negatives? Hint: He just said he wants the U.S. to be friends with Israel. To what he thought was a closed audience of Muslim activists.)
He continues: “I just want the United States to have a lot of friends. And to be in a position with the friend to say — you are wrong and you must stop.” (That is, Israel is and will continue to be a friend, but friends don’t let friends drive drunk.)
Finally, here’s his most conspiratorial-sounding statement: “That country” — Israel — “has mobilized its Diaspora in America to do its bidding in America.” Sounds ominous, right? He’s accusing AIPAC of doing a good job. But now he draws the lesson he wants to drive home to Muslims: “The question is, with all of us here, we ought to be able to do at least as much. You understand what I am trying to say? That we got a lot of work to do.” That is, the Jewish community does effective work on its causes. Muslims should learn from them.
Rather unsurprisingly, this is all about a battle power, control, and money among the party apparatchiks.
*One of the most vociferous condemnations of Ellison have come from Clintonistas and other members of the Democratic Party Nomenklatura such as Clinton megadonor Haim Saban.