Chris Cuomo to Keith Ellison: Are You The Right Messenger To Call Trump An Anti-Semite?


At Wednesday night's CNN DNC Leadership debate, Rep. Keith Ellison spoke about his deep respect for the Jewish community after a question from CNN's Chris Cuomo about his record of allegedly anti-Semetic remarks.

"You have critics in your party that say that is the right message but you may not be the right messenger because you're dogged by your own questions about potential anti-Semitism," he asked.

CHRIS CUOMO: Congressman Ellison -- on Tuesday, you criticized President Trump on Twitter for not speaking out sooner about anti-Semitism. You have critics in your party that say that is the right message but you may not be the right messenger because you're dogged by your own questions about potential anti-Semitism. What do you say to your critics?

ELLISON: Well, these are false allegations. And that's why I have 300 rabbis and Jewish community leaders who have signed a letter supporting me. Five of my colleagues -- they said, look, I don't have anything to say about this race, but we know Keith and he is a good man and always has been. That's why a week ago I was in New York City with HIAS (ph), which is an organization, a Jewish organization, which stands up for refugees. They're saying, we were once refugees, and they stood out in New York and demanded that we have respect for refugees now.

And when I spoke at that, I invoked the memory of the St. Louis, where Jews fleeing Third Reich were turned away in Cuba with the knowledge of our government and sent back. Many of them ended up perishing in the Holocaust.

I have a long, strong history of interfaith dialogue, interfaith communication, and that's why in my own community, I have strong support from the Jewish community. So these are smears and we're fighting back every day, but we're fighting back with people who know us. I just want to say, it is critical that we speak up against this anti-Semitism because right now, you have Jewish cemeteries being defaced and desecrated. Right now, you have Jewish institutions getting bomb threats. We have to stand with the Jewish community right here, right now, four square, and that's what the Democratic Party is all about.

CUOMO: And if you are the Chair of the party, President Trump has made the relationship with Israel central to his understanding of that region of the world. That criticism from your critics will come in that, Keith Ellison, who's the head of the DNC, if you get this job, he was someone who said that Israel could not be the only lens, that all foreign policy was seen through the lens of 7 million people. Said it in 2010. What do you say to your critics that say that that's not who should be the head of the DNC?

ELLISON: Well, here's what I say, I voted for $27 billion in bilateral aid to Israel over the course of about six or seven votes. I have been to the region many times and sat down with members of the Knesset and worked with them.

I've been a stalwart champion of the two-state solution, which means that we've got to have Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security. And I have made that a very key cornerstone of my advocacy.

And so, look, I believe that the U.S.-Israel relationship is special and important. I've stood for that principle my whole service and my whole career. And you can trust when I'm the DNC chair that that relationship will continue. We will maintain the bipartisan consensus of U.S. support for Israel if I'm the DNC chair.

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