Keith Ellison, the frontrunner for Democratic National Committee chairman, denounced hate crimes against Jews Wednesday and pushed back against accusations of anti-Semitism ahead of a vote to lead the party.
Ellison, who is facing a weekend election pitting him against ex-Labor Secretary Tom Perez and others, stressed “a long history of interfaith dialogue” during a CNN interview.
“It is critical that we speak up against this anti-Semitism …. We have to stand up for the Jewish community right here, right now, foursquare,” Ellison said.
He said Democrats should keep on demanding action to counter the current wave of bomb threats to Jewish community centers along with a Jewish cemetery desecration in St. Louis.
“That’s what the Democratic Party is all about,” said the Minneapolis congressman, who was a key backer of liberal Bernie Sanders in the Deomcratic presidential primary battle.
Ellison, who embraced the Nation of Islam years ago as a young man, dismissed accusation of anti-Semitism as groundless “smears” — and pointed to backing from 300 rabbis and Jewish leaders.
“I have a long, strong history of interfaith dialogue and that’s why, in my own community, I have support from the Jewish community,” he said.