CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt specifically cited a 2010 speech in which Ellison knocked America's foreign policy for being to beholden to Israel, comments that bubbled up this week through conservative media outlets.
“The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people," the ADL's statement quotes Ellison as saying at the time. "A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.”
Greenblatt said that view dredges up "age-old stereotypes" about Jewish people and disqualifies Ellison from the chairmanship.
"Rep. Ellison’s remarks are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying. His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests," the statement reads. "Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S."
This is not the first time the ADL has taken issue with Ellison's past comments about Israel. Greenblatt noted that when Ellison first announced his candidacy for DNC chair, the organization "did not rush to judgment" but did express "real concern" about those other comments.
“We spoke with leadership in the Jewish community in Minnesota who confirmed what ADL and other national organizations have seen: that Keith Ellison is a man of good character,” Greenblatt's previous statement on his candidacy read. “We have seen him through his work in Congress as an important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism and for civil rights."
“However, the congressman also has made statements and taken positions, especially regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on the JCPOA, on which we strongly differ and that concern us,” it continued.
Ellison addressed concerns from the ADL and others in a Medium post Wednesday night, saying that he has learned from his past statements and disavowed leaders with anti-Semitic and homophobic views.
"These men organize by sowing hatred and division, including, anti-Semitism, homophobia and a chauvinistic model of manhood," Ellison wrote. "I disavowed them long ago, condemned their views, and apologized."
"I have always lived a politics defined by respecting differences, rejecting all forms of racism and anti-Semitism," he continued. "A politics based on inclusion, and diverse communities organizing together for economic justice for everyone."