Friendly Advice to AIPAC: Invite Rep. Keith Ellison to Annual AIPAC Policy Conference

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keith ellison oath.jpg
(Keith Ellison taking oath of office on Thomas Jefferson’s Quran)
Why not arrange a “conversation” with the increasingly popular first Muslim Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Keith Ellison, at the upcoming annual AIPAC Policy Conference?
Representative Ellison is actually beginning to coordinate with Secretary of State Rice and other officials responsible for crafting American public diplomacy to “tell his story” as the first elected Muslim Member of Congress.
When asked about this “collusion” with the Bush administration, Ellison said “Hey, my country first. We can work out political differences later.”
If Ellison can walk that far, so perhaps too can AIPAC.
From a report my McClatchy News’ Kevin Diaz:

Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, had little good to say about President Bush’s foreign policy when he ran for office last year.
Now, two months in office, the Minnesota Democrat plans to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top State Department officials to talk about showcasing his story as part of their public diplomacy efforts in the Muslim world.
“Hey, my country first. We can work out our political differences later,” said Ellison, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war. “I’ve said I’m willing to do whatever I can to make some friends for America.”
Adding to the cachet he’s built since taking his oath of office on Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an, Ellison has been profiled three times by the State Department’s overseas press bureau.
On Monday he did a Voice of America interview from his office, where an American flag was placed conspicuously behind his desk for the cameras.
He’s scheduled to follow up on Thursday in a teleconference with Karen Hughes, the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy. The White House has asked that the teleconference promote American values and confront ideological support for terrorism around the world.

If it can work for Condi and Karen Hughes, then perhaps this outreach can be embraced by more in America — and the Middle East.
The AIPAC meeting which starts Sunday and runs through the first part of next week is chock-a-block with speakers, so one could suggest that there’s no room for Ellison in the full program.
This is from AIPAC’s press release:

In addition to the four top Democrat and Republican Congressional leaders — House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the Vice President, and Israeli Foreign Minister Livni, other conference speakers include: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (via satellite), Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Israeli Opposition Leader and Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Sallai Meridor, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, and many others of note.

My friendly suggestion is that someone yield some time to the freshman Congressman.
It could be the start of something productive — as long as “both sides” of the conversation make the effort to “listen.”
— Steve Clemons

Comments

25 comments on “Friendly Advice to AIPAC: Invite Rep. Keith Ellison to Annual AIPAC Policy Conference

  1. Nell says:

    I love the never-fail ‘tell’ of partisan affiliation in the AIPAC press release:
    “In addition to the four top Democrat [sic] and Republican Congressional leaders…”

    Reply

  2. ... says:

    Defense for Aipac Duo Says Groups Refuse To Testify
    http://www.forward.com/articles/defense-for-aipac-duo-says-groups-refuse-to-testif/
    The defense would like to call several high-profile witnesses, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and senior officials from the State Department, the National Security Council and the Pentagon. The goal would be to prove that the government routinely passed information to Aipac and that the practice was seen by all sides as legitimate.

    Reply

  3. ... says:

    German Jews Feud Over Criticizing Israel
    Fight Mirrors Similar Debates in Britain and Australia
    http://www.forward.com/articles/german-jews-feud-over-criticizing-israel/

    Reply

  4. ... says:

    poa- thanks for shedding light on an unevenly covered topic -israel/palestinian dynamics here at twn..

    Reply

  5. Winnipeger says:

    absolutely amazing, poa. i have rarely witnessed the likes or depths of your anger anywhere before. exactly what the world needs right now, right?
    and in response to the following:
    “But I am requesting that you do not attempt to directly engage me, because Steve has requested that I be less than sincere in the manner I respond to your irritating drivel. And I despise insincerity.”
    get a grip, man. you’re quite humorous, actually.
    directly engaging me to ask me not to directly engage you. that makes PERFECT sense. LOL!
    and i must apologize in advance, poa, for i reserve the right to respond to anything and anyone in this forum. although, you are incapable of resisting the (childish?) urge for ad hominem attacks, i will refrain from responding in kind.
    you’ve already done a good enough job of attempting to destroy this blog with profanity, invective, filibustering, and general incivility.

    Reply

  6. Pissed Off American says:

    Carter stands firm on apartheid accusations against Israel
    By The Associated Press
    Despite the storm it ignited, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter held fast on Thursday to his accusation that Israel oppresses the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza and seeks to colonize their land.
    Speaking at The George Washington University to a polite but mostly critical student audience, Carter offered no second thoughts on his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid that prompted 14 members of the Carter Center’s advisory board to resign and drew fire from Jewish groups and some fellow Democrats.
    He said he was not accusing Israel of racism nor referring to its treatment of Arabs within the country. “I defined apartheid very carefully as the forced segregation by one people of another on their own land,” he said.
    Advertisement
    Outside the university auditorium, some two dozen protesters gathered, a few carrying signs. “Carter is a Liar” read one held by a smiling demonstrator while the others chanted the refrain.
    “We were trying to tell Carter his lies are not helpful,” a local rabbi, Shmuel Herzfeld, said afterward. “It is very clear the lies are malicious, and it raises issues what his motives are,” Herzfeld said.
    “I believe Jimmy Carter is an anti-Semite and his intention is to hurt Jewish people,” said Herzfeld, rabbi at Ohev Sholom, in an interview.
    Continues at….
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/834962.html
    Now I ask you, does this Rabbi Herzfeld REALLY believe this horseshit he is drooling about Carter being “anti-semitic”? Anyone with even a cursury knowledge of Carter’s past record in regards to his efforts to encourage peace in the ME cannot with conviction accuse Carter of being “anti-semitic”.

    Reply

  7. Pissed Off American says:

    The following is on today’s AIPAC webpage….
    “Gallup: Americans Solid in Support of Israel
    Nearly three-fifths of Americans side with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and 63 percent hold a favorable view of the Jewish state, according to an annual international affairs survey released this week by the Gallup organization. Israel’s high standing reflects trends recorded by Gallup since 2000, when the Palestinians began a campaign of violence that has taken the lives of more than 1,000 Israelis. Compared with Gallup polls conducted before 2000, the average American level of sympathy for Israel has risen by more than 10 points.”
    http://www.aipac.org/130.asp#2805
    Now, noting the stated Israeli death toll in the AIPAC piece, take note of the following….
    1,020 Israelis and at least 4,057 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.
    122 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 869 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.
    7,633 Israelis and 31,267 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000. (View Source)
    1 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 9,599 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.
    0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 4,170 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since September 29, 2000.
    60+ new Jewish-only settlements have been built on confiscated Palestinian land between March 2001 and July 11, 2003. There have been 0 cases of Palestinians confiscating Israeli land and building settlements. (View Source)
    http://www.ifamericansonlyknew.org/

    Reply

  8. Pissed Off American says:

    “thanks for posting the link above, poa.”
    I would prefer you just post links in my direction, if you must respond to my posts. I have no respect for you, or interest in your opinions about my posts. It is obvious you aren’t just going to go away, and thats a shame. But I am requesting that you do not attempt to directly engage me, because Steve has requested that I be less than sincere in the manner I respond to your irritating drivel. And I despise insincerity.

    Reply

  9. Winnipeger says:

    thanks for posting the link above, poa. i read the full story AND the entire thread. very interesting and balanced… and more importantly, those contributors on both sides of the issue (anti/pro israel) were respectful towards one another and didn’t employ the ad hominem attacks that have been so prevalent here in the past.
    i encourage others to read the thread in order to gain a broader understanding of the issue.

    Reply

  10. ... says:

    matthew, it seems everyone has to appear before aipac to get approval for financial support when they try to get elected… i don’t know who is visiting them today, but this is the main reason – financial support based on unwavering support for israel. it is pretty blatant, which i admire.

    Reply

  11. Matthew says:

    Why should Ellison degrade himself by appearing at the AIPAC convention? He’s a member of Congress, not the Knesset.

    Reply

  12. Pissed Off American says:

    can anyone believe the fact that a jew with an israeli stamp in his/her country’s passport is not allowed to even ENTER saudi arabia?!
    so much for constructive dialogue in the heart of islam.
    Posted by Winnipeger
    August 2, 2006
    Trouble at the Border
    By Daoud Kuttab, Ramallah, West Bank
    For about three hours on Tuesday, I was really concerned. My sister Grace and her four children were traveling from Jordan to see relatives in the West Bank using the northern Jordan-Israel crossing point. The source of my concern was a news item I saw on TV saying that a Hezbollah rocket had fallen on Bisan in northern Israel.
    Bisan, literally on the other side of the border crossing that the family was about to reach, is now called Beit Shean and is 100 percent inhabited by Israelis. I was debating whether to ask them to turn back or or let them take their chances.
    When I finally called Grace on her cellphone, she told me that they had almost reached the crossing point. I told her what was happening. She said that they wanted to continue on. I then advised her that once they crossed into Israel, they should drive quickly south towards Jerusalem. I never expected her to be denied entry by the Israelis for a completely different reason.
    Grace and her family, United States citizens who live in Brooklyn, N.Y., were excited about visiting our relatives in the Palestinian town of Beit Jala. Her husband, Khader El Yateem, Lutheran pastor of Salam Arabic Church in Brooklyn, who was required by Israeli authorities to travel a different route, has not seen his many relatives for over eight years. The last time he tried some four years ago to attend the funeral of his brother-in-law he was not allowed to enter. He was told by the Israelis that he could not use his American passport, only his Palestinian travel documents.
    This time, the El Yateem family was careful to play it by the book. Pastor Khader, with his Palestinian travel documents in hand, went to the Allenby Bridge, while the rest of the family went to cross in the north. My sister, like other Palestinians born in Jerusalem, has never had any Palestinian documents because Jerusalem was annexed by Israel and is therefore considered part of it.
    For two hours, my sister and her children stood in the hot sun at Israeli passport control. She later told me that she could see smoke billowing not far from the border. Without an explanation, an Israeli police officer came up to my sister with her and her children’s passport and told her that she was denied entry into Israel and that this denial applied to all crossing points. He turned around and left without giving an explanation and without responding to my sister’s repeated requests.
    When she opened her United States passport, my sister, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, saw that she was no longer allowed to return to her birthplace, not even with a passport of the world’s superpower and Israel’s best international friend.
    continues at…….
    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?referrerid=69527&t=180984

    Reply

  13. liz says:

    I think really and truly it is way past time for America to DEFINE ENEMY> everyone is an enemy when it is convenient. But who or what is really the enemy??

    Reply

  14. ... says:

    there is no lobby group anything like aipac in the usa that is representing the other side, so as to hear or be influenced equally by ‘both sides’, but it is fun to fantasize@ keep it up steve.

    Reply

  15. Winnipeger says:

    and turnabout would be fair play:
    can anyone believe the fact that a jew with an israeli stamp in his/her country’s passport is not allowed to even ENTER saudi arabia?!
    so much for constructive dialogue in the heart of islam.

    Reply

  16. Pissed Off American says:

    Hell, if AIPAC was handing out constructive invites, I’d like to see them invite Carter, so they could apolgize to him, and admit that he speaks the truth.

    Reply

  17. Pat says:

    Aren’t they the “top four Democratic leaders”? AIPAC should not refer to them by perjorative “Democrat leaders”!

    Reply

  18. Brigitte says:

    Great that Congressman Ellison, regardless of his differences with administration’s policies, rises above those differences and is willing to help in the so-far ill-conceived and badly executed public diplomacy efforts in the Arab and Muslim world. Unlike some of the earlier posters, I cannot see why this must collide with the interests of Israelis and their supporters in the U.S.

    Reply

  19. Winnipeger says:

    great suggestion, steve. while we’re at it, i’d enjoy seeing both king abdullah’s address the AIPAC conference as well. the more dialogue the better.
    unfortunately, the reality of the ME is not as black and white as some people assume it is or would like it to be. his impassioned speech aside, the Jordanians have a lot of palestinian blood on their hands as well.

    Reply

  20. ... says:

    both sides, lol… i like that… so aipac is on one side and ellison is on the other? rof~!

    Reply

  21. PUBLIUS says:

    This is the promise which the power of American pluralism offers.
    PUBLIUS

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    I hope Ellison can make some inroads but I think he is really pissing in the wind with this adm and dem Israeli congress. Unfortunately the AIPAC’ers and too many in congress believe in “my country first” also, except their country is Israel, not the USA.
    I was wondering if you were going to mention King Abdullah’s speech to the joint meeting of congress yesterday and his plea for peace in Israel and Palestine…it was very touching and sincere to me.
    Later I was embarrassed as usual to see the news reports of the dems reactions to the King’s speech…..
    “Several lawmakers told FOX News that it was strange that Abdullah would discuss the Palestinians, who are a large minority in Jordan, without recognizing that the use of terror by Palestinian organizations.
    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he was “disappointed” in the king for not mentioning the “principle undermining factor in getting to peace,” namely, Palestinian terrorist organizations, as well as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda.
    “He should’ve talked about Hamas. … This is a forum in which he could have done that usefully,” said Hoyer, D-Md.
    “Profoundly disappointing … a missed opportunity,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said of the speech.
    In fact, during the speech, when Abdullah said, “The source of resentment and frustration … is the denial of justice and peace in Palestine,” a number of elected officials refused to applaud and shook their heads in disapproval.
    Major pro-Israeli politicians like Lantos, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Frank Lautenberg, all of whom are Jewish, were among the 20 or so elected officials to remain stone-faced.”
    >>>>>>>>
    Disgusting, the Lantos’s and Hoyer’s and their ilk are incapable of acting fairly or objectively in the Israel Palestine conflict and a major obstacle to any settlement of this conflict. Some day we will all look back on this period of Israeli fetish insanity in our goverment and circles of influence and wonder how we let it pervert America to this degree. This kind of foreign corruption is just as dangerous as the dictatorial mafia government Bush&Co represent.
    And this is NOT an issue on which the “reasonable people can disagree” dodge can be used. They are ruining this country and they all must go.

    Reply

  23. daCascadian says:

    I doubt any of the AIPAC crowd can manage to get off their high horses enough to listen to anybody except their echo chamber members.
    Such is junior high.
    “…We don’t have news, we have stories inspired by current events…” – Stirling Newberry

    Reply

  24. adam says:

    Steve,
    You’re deluding yourself if you think Ellison will in any way provide any fresh perspective.
    He was only elected after flying to Israel and passing the most stringent tests on his positions on Israel. He has learned to parrot the AIPAC line so well, that he will sound no different than any of the other parrots AIPAC will have on display that day.
    What we really need is for people like you to finally grow the balls to clearly say what you obviously know about AIPAC: it has too much influence, and its influence is aimed at helping Israel, but it extremely counter-productive to American economic, strategic and national interest, and is an enormous destructive force in the region.

    Reply

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