By Ben “Dr. Ben” Chouake MD
have been involved in federal elections for about 50 years. I recall as
a student advocating first for Humphrey and then McGovern when they ran
against Nixon. Still vivid to me is when I got the news that Nixon won
on the radio of my old Dodge Dart, I gripped the steering wheel in
disbelief. I worked on the election of Bill Clinton and the candidacy of
the Gore/Lieberman ticket. I remember speaking at length with
then-long-shot-candidate for Senate, Barack Obama, in a bar across the
street from the AIPAC convention about 11 years ago and how he was
pledged to the safety and security of Israel. In later years, I expanded
my advocacy to become bipartisan.
consistent thing I have found in all these years, among the hundreds of
congressional members and the leaders of the Democratic Party I have
worked with, is their commitment to U.S.-Israel relations. This
partnership between the pro-Israel American community and the Democratic
Party has been steadfast and beneficial to our nation, to our ally
Israel, and consistent with the sentiments of the vast majority of
Democratic Party’s historic support for Israel has been rewarded by
receiving the Jewish voting plurality and immense financial support to
Democratic candidates for office. It is well-known that the pro-Israel
voters make their donations both in greater amounts and more
consistently than most other groups; this goes for both the Jewish and
Christian Zionist voters and donors. America loves Israel and Israel
loves America. There is a natural connection between America, the
greatest force for good in the history of mankind, and Israel,
miraculously brought back after 2,000 years as a light in the most
troubled part of the world. The Democratic Party and its leadership have
made this a pillar of their platform since Truman recognized Israel in
1948, minutes after Israel declared its independence.
legacy of the Democratic Party is at risk with the candidate for the
2017 chairperson for the Democratic National Committee, Congressman
Keith Ellison. Given his troubling voting record on Israel and
disturbing past affiliations, the pick of Rep. Ellison for this top
position could spell disaster to the Democratic Party and the bipartisan
nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
has served in Congress since 2007, but his controversial actions
preceded his term in office. During the 1990s, he served as a local
spokesman in Minnesota for Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam movement.
Ellison had publicly claimed in 1995 that Farrakhan “is not an
anti-Semite.” Although Ellison acknowledged to the local Jewish
community during his run for Congress in 2006 that he had been
“involved” with Minister Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, he minimized his
past role as a leader in the religious organization that was rife with
overt anti-Semitism and hateful bigotry.
his successful 2006 congressional campaign, Ellison received roughly
$50,000 in campaign contributions that were given or raised by officials
of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was spun off
of the group Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) that was found to
have ties to Hamas.
2009, although the majority of Congress—including Democrats—rejected
the heavily biased Goldstone report, Ellison harshly criticized the
House of Representatives’ decision to reject it, arguing that the report
“only presents facts and raises recommendations for the future.” Even
the author of the report had serious regrets about it in hindsight.
was the congressman who initiated the 2010 “Gaza 54” letter, asking the
administration to pressure Israel to ease the blockade of Gaza. He has
gone on Twitter and publicly compared the treatment of Palestinians
under Israel to “apartheid.”
2012, Keith Ellison came to northern New Jersey mosques to campaign for
Representative Bill Pascrell in the Democratic Primary. Pascrell was
running against fellow incumbent Steve Rothman, the lone Jewish
Representative from NJ in a reconfigured district. His efforts to unseat
Rothman, a fellow Democrat, were unusual given it was a Democratic
Primary between two incumbents and given the great lengths Ellison went
through to campaign in a district halfway across the country.
2014, during the summer Israeli conflict with Gaza, Rep. Ellison was
one of only eight members in the House to vote against a bill to provide
emergency funding to Israel for the Iron Dome anti-missile defense
system. This was a critical time to bolster Israel’s defense as it was
being bombarded by a constant barrage of rocket fire from Hamas.
year, Congressman Ellison was appointed to the Democratic platform
drafting committee by Senator Bernie Sanders. As a member of this
committee, he expressed favor for removing language condemning Iran in
the Democratic platform and adding language recognizing Israeli
“occupation” of Palestinian land.
person who heads the DNC will be responsible for the party’s platform
stance on issues such as America’s response to the Iranian nuclear
weapons program and our relationship with Israel and its neighbors. It
can be fairly stated that Keith Ellison has one of the worst records on
U.S.-Israel relations in Congress. The clear disdain for Israel and its
close relationship with America that Rep. Ellison has demonstrated is at
odds with the party and the nation.
Democrats have been traditionally pro-Israel, as has their leadership.
Keith Ellison is at the fringe of his party and the nation in his views.
His nomination to chair the DNC is a poor choice for the party and our
candidacy of Rep. Keith Ellison should be strongly and duly scrutinized
by the Democratic leadership as they cast their votes for DNC Chair in
Ben Chouake, MD (Dr. Ben)
National President of NORPAC