Since he won the DFL endorsement for Minnesota’s Fifth District congressional seat, no event has served the purposes of Keith Ellison more than the endorsement of the “American Jewish World” — i.e., the endorsement of its editor, Mordecai Specktor. A week after the endorsement, its still the top item on Ellison’s site. It serves to mitigate the difficulties created for Ellison in the Fifth District’s Jewish community by Ellison’s local leadership of the Nation of Islam, his defense of the “truth” of an attack on Minneapolis Jews as “the most racist white people” and his August 25 fundraiser sponsored by the United Chamber of Commerce and Muslim Coaliton for Keith featuring CAIR executive director and Hamas supporter Nihad Awad. Also featured at the August 25 fundraiser was former Guananamo Bay Navy Chaplain James Yee.
Among those who in the Fifth District Jewish community who know of Ellison’s record, there has been substantial pushback against Spector’s endorsement of Ellison. The op-ed page of the new issue of the AJW runs a short column by Amy Rotenberg, Dan Rosen and Marc Grossfield. It reads:
Although the American Jewish World has had a longstanding policy of not endorsing candidates for political office, the newspaper last week endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison in the DFL primary for the Fifth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
We were troubled to learn that AJW’s editor, Mordecai Specktor, made his endorsement secretly, and without any regard for the normal procedures of newspaper endorsements.
Specktor did not interview or even contact any other candidates in the race, other than Ellison. The AJW does not have an editorial board. Specktor’s research on the candidates consisted of attending the candidates’ debate at Temple Israel and studying the candidates’ positions posted on their Web sites and in press releases.
The appropriate role for the sole newspaper of our Jewish community is to inform readers of facts and events important to our community, not to become the partisan agent of a single political candidate.
Throughout this campaign, the AJW has failed to report important, easily available news about Keith Ellison’s background. The AJW has given short shrift to abundant, compelling public information about Ellison’s nearly nine-year association with the Nation of Islam. Specktor knew of members of our community with personal knowledge of the scope and length of Ellison’s associations with anti-Semites and hatemongers. He never interviewed them or reported what they know.
New information has come to light. On Aug. 25, a known supporter of Hamas, Nihad Awad, was featured at a fundraiser in Brooklyn Park, and personally contributed $2,000 to the Ellison campaign. Ellison’s campaign claims the event generated $50,000 in contributions.
What are we to make of AJW’s promotion of Keith Ellison now?
The Rotenberg/Rosen/Grossfield column elicits an amazing exercise in apologetics from Specktor. In his facing editorial, Specktor (again speaking as the instituional voice of the AJW) writes regarding the fundraiser featuring Awad, Yee and Ellison:
Awad has reportedly made some comments in the past favorable to Hamas; CAIR officials deny they support any terrorist groups.
According to Dave Colling, Ellison’s campaign manager, the Ellison campaign learned on the day of the fundraiser that Awad had been invited. Ellison asked both the controversial speaker and the fundraiser organizers that Awad not speak at the event in Brooklyn Park. In the end, Awad, who also has been an invited guest of the Bush White House, spoke briefly…
This attempt at guilt by association is clearly intended to impugn the integrity of Keith Ellison’s support for Israel and his denunciation of terrorism. We hope that thoughtful voters in the Fifth District will see through these self-serving partisan attacks.
Specktor’s credulity appears to be a match for the Ellison campaign’s mendacity. Unfortunately, Specktor leaves those inclined to ascertain facts beyond the word of Ellison’s campaign manager to fend for themselves. Herewith a few facts that Specktor does not share with his readers.
The fundraiser announcement on which I relied in reporting on the event was posted by Tamim Saidi on August 20. At the time of the announcement, the event featured “3 AMAZING speakers in MN to support Br. Keith Ellison.” The three featured speakers were Yee, Awad and Br. Keith himself. Immediately below the announcement of the fundraiser Saidi touted Ellison to opponents of Israel:
The Israel supporters (AIPAC + grassroots supporters) gave $56 MILLION to politicians. Can you spare $56?
Well, my suggestion is to support Br. Keith Ellison for Congress.
InshaAllah this can be the start of a change for all of us and at least one voice for us in congress.
As of a date no later than August 20, the fundraiser had accordingly booked and announced Yee, Awad and Ellison as featured guests, yet Ellison’s campaign manager claims that he did not know that Awad was to attend. By way of explanation of Awad’s presence at the fundraiser, Ellison’s campaign has also let it be known that Ellison and Awad are old friends, having been classmates at the University of Minnesota Law School. Ellison’s campaign manager to the contrary notwithstanding, I infer that Ellison knew Awad would be in attendance and wanted him there.
As for CAIR’s purported opposition to terrorism, Specktor is similarly credulous. Daniel Pipes, for example, has demonstrated that both CAIR and Awad have a number of links to Hamas and has shown that CAIR is a regular apologist for Islamist terrorism. This apparently comes as news to Specktor, as does almost every other relevant fact about his endorsed candidate for the Fifth District congressional seat.