Progressive Jewish activism – the Selective Silence of Usurpers

On Tuesday the blogging website Daily Kos reported that 17 Jewish organizations sent an open letter demanding the dismissal of White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller. They classify Miller as a far-right figure but neglect to quote any of his statements and move to portray him as a puppeteer holding back President Donald Trump from working out an immigration agreement with Congress.

In this short diatribe against Miller, the author Leslie Salzillo omits three key facts:

  • Whether Miller has been involved or not, the White House offered to the Democrats in Congress on the same day as the Daily Kos article came out a final offer that protects up to 1.8 million illegal immigrants by offering to them a “path to citizenship”. In putting this forward, Trump compromises deeply from his campaign positions against illegal immigration.
  • Miller is in fact himself Jewish. The National Council on Jewish Women which was the primary group to release the letter purports to speak for Jews, yet does so while
  • The coalition of 17 Jewish organizations includes such groups as Americans for Peace Now, J Street, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) that are aligned with the far left. JFREJ for example is a hard-line anti-deportation group that has called for amnesty of ALL immigrants.

JFREJ former leader Dove Kent has said this: “There’s antisemitism on the Left, yes. There’s antisemitism at McDonald’s! It’s the water we swim in.” In other words, sure we know it’s here and we’re cool with it. Kent proudly pins to her Twitter page a photo of her smiling with Linda Sarsour, a radical Islamist activist and Women’s March organizer who has campaigned for the release of Islamic terrorist Aafia Siddiqui and condemned the celebration by Libyans of the death of Muammar Qaddafi.

Other members of the coalition are so amorphous and confusing that it’s difficult to determine what they are, even though it is obvious what they stand for. IKAR for example has claimed that they do not know if they are a synagogue, because the word “synagogue” can feel constraining. Thanks for the honesty, but based on the information on the website, it is clear that this is simply a progressive communal organization that is mainly advocating on behalf of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. What this has to do with Stephen Miller is anyone’s guess.

Other groups include the pro-Palestine Jewish lobbying group J Street, and the splinter group Open Hillel which demands that Jewish campus life organization Hillel not sanction pro-Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activism in their ranks. Open Hillel released a statement last year condemning the Israel Day Parade supporters for countering Palestinian protesters at the event. Then there’s Bend the Arc, an openly partisan Democratic organization of progressive Jews.

But if we were really honest we would admit that all of the major Jewish social organizations in the USA have drifted into a partisan sandbar that falsely purports to represent the views of all American Jews. The NCJW was formed in 1893 as a feminist Jewish organization and took part in many of the early causes of women’s suffrage and even non-women related civil rights causes. Most NCJW activists believe in an egalitarian role for women in Jewish worship. That’s why it is so ironically comical that they now participate in the Women’s March while its main figure Sarsour promotes the wearing of the hijab (a symbol of female modesty) and mocks the issue of female circumcision (FGM) concerning ex-Muslim women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Equality for Jewish women in Jewish life: “GOOD”. Equality for Muslim women in Muslim life: “Let’s talk about DACA”.

This type of sheepdog action regarding Jewish voters is one reason why I don’t associate with any Jewish organization, partisan or non-partisan apart from my local religious congregation. Recent history suggests that these groups are also silent when it comes to issues that one would think would matter most to a Jewish advocacy group.

Notably missing in the Daily Kos article, the open letter, or the NCJW website was any mention of two incidents that have been revealed in the past two weeks regarding senior officials in the Democratic Party.

The first came out on February 7 when a photographer with the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) Final Call newspaper revealed that he had concealed for 13 years photos of a 2005 meeting of then-Senator Barack Obama with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) where NOI minister Louis Farrakhan appeared as a guest. Farrakhan’s past statements regarding Jews and whites are a melange of pseudo-science and fictional history that claim white people were created by a mad scientist 6,600 years ago. As a Chicago area community organizer in the black community Obama could not have been unaware of Farrakhan and his beliefs as that is the very city where the NOI is headquartered and has tens of thousands of members. As a supporter of free speech and freedom of religion I fully believe Farrakhan has the right to the same liberties that I espouse even though I believe he is a deceiver and disagree with everything he says. Obama, when faced with his own minister Jeremiah Wright’s similar views being made public in 2008 issued a milquetoast condemnation of Farrakhan but has never been forthcoming about any meetings with him. Obama has not responded to the revelation but another CBC congressman Danny Davis, also a Democrat from Chicago, defended Farrakhan calling him an “outstanding human being” in an exchange withThe Daily Caller.

For those that think that 2005 is ancient history, please consider the record of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a practicing Muslim himself and currently the Deputy Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Ellison was once a staff member of Farrakhan’s NOI and an organizer for it ahead of the 1995 Million Man March. In 2006 while running for Congress Ellison disavowed his prior association with Farrakhan claiming he was unaware of the minister’s bigoted views towards Jews (apparently his hatred of whites and gay people does not merit a disavowal). Ellison in a 2016 interview on MSNBC during the race for DNC Chair called allegations regarding his past with Farrakhan a result of “bad reporting”, complained that many of the quotes attributed to him were “from 1995”, and stated that he has a “10 year congressional record” to refute those claims.

However on February 8 it was revealed in the Wall Street Journal that Ellison had in fact attended a private dinner and meeting with Farrakhan and Iranian Pres. Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations. Farrakhan himself refuted Ellison’s statements disassociating himself from him in a Facebook video from December 2016 in which he condemned Jewish control of politics and media claiming that the two had met privately at Farrakhan’s hotel suite as recently as 2015. Who should we believe in this back-and-forth? I think that Minister Farrakhan, regardless of my deep difference of conviction from him, is the far more honest source of information than Ellison who he calls “poor fella” in the video. The meetings with Farrakhan are not what should trouble the reader – two other CBC Democratic congressmen attended the same meeting, Gregory Meeks of New York and Andre Carson of Indiana. If members of Congress want to associate with Farrakhan, it’s their right so long as they can live with the repercussions. The difference is that unlike Ellison neither Meeks, Carson nor even Davis have ever made a statement denying links to him.

The rest of the Democratic party typically makes hay with any association by a GOP official with a far-right figure as recently happened when blogger Bob Johnson attended the State of the Union with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. They typically like to cite the data from coopted liberal hate watch groups like the SPLC and the Aiding and Abetting Defamation League (A&ADL). But whereas Johnson is a recently discovered and little-known blossom of the internet “alt-right”, Farrakhan has a record of racism towards whites and Jews going back to the 1950s and the ADL has a convenient PDF of such statements going back to 1996.

To their credit, the A&ADL has issued their typical impotent statement in condemnation of Ellison’s meetings with Farrakhan and wagged some really convincing fingers at him. A&ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt even had the uncommon courage to call on Ellison and the other congressmen to condemn Farrakhan again. Instead of discussing the dubious associations of their serving congressmen in the Chicago area, the Chicago media and the broader national political media would prefer to focus on the GOP candidacy of Art Jones in Illinois’s 3rd District, a neo-Nazi who has literally no chance of winning in a district where incumbent Dan Lipinski ran unopposed in 2016, has never won less than 65% of the vote, and where Democrats have ruled since 1959 apart from two years.

Okay so if the mainstream media will not cover the issue of Ellison’s deception and Barack Obama’s duplicity regarding Farrakhan, shouldn’t Bend the Arc, NCJW, IKAR, and J Street take to the streets and demand Ellison’s resignation as DNC Deputy Chair? After all, they are so quick to drag Stephen Miller through the mud over illegal immigration policy, I assume they would be just as eager to stand up for the interests of their own community. Any minute Dove Kent, Sally Kohn, and Jonathan Greenblatt should be lacing up their tennis shoes and stretching for that march down 5th Avenue.

On second thought I won’t wait in the rain for this one.

About the Author
Ramón Epstein writes analysis of political and social issues from a libertarian perspective. He also writes for the Hard News Network.