Alan Dershowitz Clearly Libels Keith Ellison [Opinion]

On Friday, Alan Dershowitz clearly libeled Keith Ellison in his piece for the Hill. While Dershowitz made a career out of law, his passion is Zionism and he has become a prominent advocate of Zionism and Israel. The 78-year-old attorney, unsurprisingly, seeks to paint Ellison, a Muslim, as being anti-Semitic and threatens to leave the Democratic Party if Ellison – whom the Washington Times reports as being backed by Bernie Sanders — were to be elected the DNC chair. This placed a stark choice for Democratic Party leadership to choose between the youth of the nation, which overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders and his return to New Deal policies which have been dismantled in recent decades since neoliberals took over the Democratic Party, and old neoliberal/neoconservatives like Alan Dershowitz who can be expected to pass away of natural causes within the coming decade.

I have written extensively before about how the Democratic Party is being controlled by people who are willing to put democratic rule aside to keep to the ideological purity of neoliberalism over compromising and remaining relevant. Ellison, whom the Observer has reported as being criticized by Ralph Nader for shifting his stance on Israel and having caved into wealthy donors in the course of the race, could never be allowed to be DNC chair and his ascendance to the position would be blocked at all costs. The Democratic party would rather die than abandon failed policies that are hated. Ultimately, as CNN reports, neoliberal former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was chosen to lead the Democratic party, who then tried to hide the fact that the New Deal Democrats would be denied any actual power by appointing Ellison the deputy chair, a powerless position.

Keith Ellison and two others

Dershowitz, himself, points out that Sanders had been pushing for Ellison to be chair and mischievously mischaracterizes the New Deal Democrats as being “hard-left.” Though Bernie Sanders mischaracterizes himself as a democratic socialist, something he hasn’t been in decades, the movement he leads is centrist on the political spectrum, perhaps slightly center-right, supporting capitalism, not socialism — the collective ownership and control of the means of production, or economic democracy — or even a mixed system. Forbes had previously laid out how Bernie Sanders is firmly capitalist.

He starts his libel, however, by tying Ellison to Louis Farrakhan, whom, indeed, the Southern Poverty Law Center confirms is an anti-Semite. Farrakhan is a leader of the Nation of Islam, a black supremacist group that teaches that God created humans black and an evil scientist, Yakub, created white people. Farrakhan himself pushed the idea that Jews were responsible for the slave trade, a theory that has no basis in evidence.

We are not provided with evidence that Ellison defended Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, but rather a loose connection that is painted as solid. Despite being a supremacist group, the Nation of Islam is also promoting the supremacy of a group that is oppressed pretty much world-wide, and so its rhetoric often takes the form of fighting injustice rather than illuminating the supremacy portion of its ideology, so it is going to seem attractive to a black Muslim like Ellison who may be much more aware of the just positions than the unjust positions that the Nation of Islam is adopting. He defended leaders like Farrakhan, and Kwame Ture (previously known as Stokely Carmichael), not on their Anti-Semitic remarks, but on their legitimate remarks.

CNN covered his past defense of such leaders, giving details on the defense of Kwame Ture. Ture had made a speech at the University of Minnesota where he accused Zionists of collaborating with Nazis — the University president had attacked the comments as being unacceptable without giving any “factual refutation,” as Ellison put it. Indeed, as reported by the Independent when a British Labour Party official made much more out of it than it suggested, the Haavara Agreement of 1933 did show Hitler working with Zionists in an attempt to have Jews leave German territory. Collaboration may be too strong of a word, but he did work with Zionists in an area where they had mutual interest and Ellison’s claim that it stifled intellectual freedom was on par.

Dershowitz, of course, did tie in Ellison with accusations of defending Kwame Ture as well, in which he offensively deadnamed Ture. Ture had been celebrated by such controversial and threatening figures as Jesse Jackson after his death, according to the Chicago Tribune. If you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic about Jackson’s controversy and threat.

Esam Omeish speaking

Of course, while CNN could not find evidence of Ellison making anti-Semitic statements, Dershowitz had no problem. An unnamed source told him that Ellison, while a law student decades ago, went up to the unnamed source and told her that he could not respect her because she was a woman and a Jew and didn’t belong in law school. I wish the person had gone on record with the story, because the behavior described of Ellison is not believable behavior. Someone who has the audacity to walk up to someone and tell them they don’t respect them because they’re a woman and a Jew should have a plethora of misogynistic and anti-Semitic statements on record — even members of the KKK bother to wear hoods to hide their identity when spouting their racist audacity or speak in coded language. I suspect Dershowitz made this story up because it doesn’t match Ellison’s behavior throughout the rest of his career.

He also attacks Ellison for fundraising for Esam Omeish in 2009, an Arab Muslim who speaks out against Israel. Dershowitz points out Omeish’s comment that “the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.” The Washington Post covered the remarks in 2007 and concluded the context was unclear because the video they could find was too short. A longer, better quality video uploaded in 2010 of the speech shows many in attendance, including Orthodox Jews who were also anti-Zionist, shows Omeish calling for peace and making statements that I would hope Dershowitz would not object to.

We all stand united against the violence and killing in the holy land, the violence and killing in the Middle East, the sanctity of human life must be honored and preserved and held in the highest regard. There is no difference between Muslim life, Christian life, or Jewish life.

This newer video does not include the phrase, likely in the section that was cut out. However, it is safe to say that the comments were not calling for violent jihad, but rather for a purely spiritual jihad, based upon a context of the parts of his speech which are clearly seen. His 2009 primary opponent, John Carroll, as reported by FOX News, claimed to have seen the entire video and thought he was “about as nice a guy as you can meet.” Dershowitz is either uncaring about the truth or willing to outright misrepresent it.

Dershowitz dismisses Ellison’s claim that he has no more contact with the Nation of Islam, which the first CNN article quotes Ellison as saying the following.

“I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam due to its propagation of bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements, as well as other issues.”

However, it should not be hard to believe that he may have distanced himself from the Nation of Islam after becoming aware of their problematic remarks. If anyone recalls Malcolm X’s final speech, he left the Nation of Islam because he saw white Muslims praying in Mecca and saw with his own eyes that white people aren’t naturally wicked, but it was just the white people he saw in America during a time of extreme overt racism in the country. People, even prominent people within the group, see past the dangerous philosophy of the Nation of Islam.

Dershowitz then proceeds to his finishing narrative with a poor analogy about Jeremy Corbin who is trying to ressurect the roots of the Labour party — overturning the neoliberalism and once again fighting for the people, and to Sanders’ left. Just past the analogy, he suggests that selecting Ellison would ensure that the rust belt will stay out of the hands of the Democratic Party — despite all evidence available that shows that Sanders, with his message, performed better in those states. In my rust belt state, Michigan, Sanders won the primary and projected better in the general election than Clinton. He also won Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The Washington Post covered how Bernie would have won the rust belt.

However, in this ending, we see what the real purpose of this piece was. Dershowitz did not seek to point out some deep anti-Semitism by Ellison, but rather to keep the neoliberal agenda ticking right on. Despite his 2003 book The Case for Israel making the flawed argument that criticism of Israel is only anti-Semitic when it focuses more on Israel than other countries doing similar — Israel of course is much more prominent as a key ally with interest groups in the United States and with massive aid from the United States – Dershowitz consistently treats any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic in this article. He complained that Ellison didn’t vote to pay billions to Israel for a missile defense system — clear anti-Semitism by not doing everything possible to aid a completely separate political state. Dershowitz has been intellectually dishonest to keep neoliberalism at the forefront of the Democratic party.

[Featured Image by John Lamparski/Getty Images]