Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, on a tour sponsored by the US State Department, told Egyptians the next president of his nation must be someone who is even-handed in dealing with Middle Eastern issues. “Because of our lack of being even handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflcit, a lot of people in the Muslim world have dooubted our commtment to democracy, doubted our commitement in promoting civil and human rights. The invasion of Iraq has done real damage to the reputation of the US.” Ellison emphasized the importance of respecting the right of Muslim nations to handle their own affairs.
Congressman Ellison discounted those who blame the “Israel Lobby” as controlling US Middle Eastern policy. He said American Jews are simply doing what other ethnic and religious groups have done in American history and it is important that factions within American society express their views.
Ellison’s comments will most probably be seized upon by right wing commentators as an example of a Barack Obama supporter revealing hostility towards Israel. Congressman Ellison said the obvious– there is need for an American president who approaches Israel-Palestinian issues from a fresh perspective and is not trapped in old arguments or events.