eligious leader Louis Farrakhan gives the keynote speech at the Nation of Islam Saviours' Day convention in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 19, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK)
NEW YORK – Jewish Democrats on Monday praised Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison after he issued a strong statement denouncing antisemitic hate preacher Louis Farrakhan.
“Ellison’s statement leaves no ambiguity that he does not accept Farrakhan’s hateful and divisive preaching and we appreciate him reiterating this conviction,” The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) told The Jerusalem Post.
“We expect our politicians to disavow him, as part of their commitment to equality and the fight against antisemitism,” the statement added.
Over the past several weeks, the Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota’s Fifth District has come under heavy criticism from “factions on the Right,” who he claims are attempting to “smear” his reputation and divide both the black and Jewish communities.
A number of “political opponents have been pushing the narrative that I am somehow connected to a man named Louis Farrakhan. It’s not true,” Ellison wrote in a statement published on the open-forum website Medium earlier Monday.
“I do not have and have never had a relationship with Mr. Farrakhan, but I have been in the same room as him,” he added, explaining that they had a brief encounter a decade ago.
Accusations relating to Ellison’s alleged relationship with Farrakhan began soon after the congressman took office in 2007, when it was revealed that he had an affiliation with the Nation of Islam that lasted about a decade.
Soon after his election win, Ellison – the first Muslim to ever serve in Congress – condemned Farrakhan and antisemitism, and renounced the Nation of Islam.
In 2013, Ellison said that he “attended a meeting in New York City with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and nearly 50 others, where I advocated for the release of an American political prisoner.”
“I didn’t know Mr. Farrakhan would be there and did not speak to him at the event,” Ellison states in the Medium article. “Contrary to recent reports, I have not been in any meeting with him since then, and he and I have no communication of any kind.”
Farrakhan made headlines in the US last month after he delivered a speech at the annual Savior’s Day event in Chicago where he made numerous antisemitic statements.
Speaking to thousands of followers, Farrakhan railed against the US Jewish community’s supposed influence over the media, an antisemitic trope that has long been a popular talking point for the black nationalist leader.
In one part of the address, Farrakhan said that the “Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men.”
“White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew – and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through,” he added.
Saviours’ Day is a holiday of the Nation of Islam commemorating the birth of its founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad.
The JDCA, which defines itself as “the voice for Jewish Democrats” with “socially liberal, pro-Israel values,” also welcomed Ellison’s commitment to fighting against antisemitism and other forms of hatred.
“As an organization and wider community, we strive to reach across religious and racial divisions to work for mutual understanding and social justice,” the council said.
“American Jews and African Americans are long-standing partners in the fight to create a more equitable and inclusive country. JDCA will continue to build on this legacy, and is pleased that Rep. Ellison and other members of Congress are equally committed,” the organization added.