Baltimore, MD, Sept. 19, 2017 — The Coalition for Jewish Values, representing hundreds of rabbis across America, called today for Rep. Keith Ellison to resign, and said that others, including leading Democrats, must demand this as well.
Recent news reports note that Ellison was one of three Democratic congressmen who attended a private dinner with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, in 2013. Ellison responded to news coverage by saying that “This was not a private dinner, I didn’t know in advance who else would be there, and my decision to attend was not an endorsement of the political views of other attendees.”
Then, however, video evidence emerged proving that this was but one of several social occasions Ellison shared with Farrakhan since his election to congress — one of which was an event in Farrakhan’s hotel room.
When running for the chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, Ellison insisted that any association with Farrakhan was “something that happened in 1995.” He reiterated his condemnation of Farrakhan’s “hatred and division, including anti-Semitism, homophobia and a chauvinistic model of manhood,” and said that “I disavowed them long ago, condemned their views, and apologized.”
The editor of Farrakhan’s newspaper, The Final Call, said that condemnations during Ellison’s run for congress were ‘pandering’ and that Ellison, once known as Keith X Ellison, clearly supported Farrakhan until his run for Congress.
Farrakhan himself indicated that he believed Ellison was still an ally, who was condemning him due only to “white control and specifically Jewish control of politics, economics, Hollywood, music, (and) media.” He indicated that he did not resent Ellison’s condemnation of his hateful views, because it was only political and not heartfelt: “In order to get something that you want, you trash someone that they don’t like… if he has to bash me in order to get a job, help yourself brother.”
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, issued the following statement:
“Farrakhan seemed certain that Ellison was merely acting out of political necessity, and now we see why: away from the media, contact between them continued. And now that he was caught in Farrakhan’s close company multiple times, Ellison cannot even repudiate him by name in his statement. He supported this hateful individual for years, joined him on multiple occasions as a congressman, and has been dishonest about their relationship. He has disqualified himself.
“All those who condemned the President for not forcefully denouncing the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville must now demonstrate that this was not merely partisan politics. They must denounce Ellison’s dishonesty and continued contact with one of America’s leading anti-Semitic hatemongers, and call upon him to resign both his seat in Congress and as Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee.”