Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a longtime Democrat, has promised to leave the Democratic Party if Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) is elected the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Dershowitz committed in an op-ed published Friday in the Hill to end his 60-year association with the Democratic Party, and urged other liberals to do the same, if the DNC chooses Ellison as its next leader.
The DNC is set to elect its next chair in Atlanta on Saturday, and Ellison is the frontrunner to come out on top. Several prominent Democrats, including Dershowitz, have not gotten behind Ellison's candidacy, citing his past controversial remarks and associations.
"There has been powerful push from the hard-left of the Democratic Party, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), to elect Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) chairman," Dershowitz wrote. "If he is elected, I will quit the party after 60 years of loyal association and voting."
"I will become an independent, continuing to vote for the best candidates, most of whom, I assume, will still be Democrats. But I will not contribute to the DNC or support it as an institution," the law professor continued.
Dershowitz called electing Ellison a "self-destructive" choice for the Democratic Party and castigated the congressman's alleged anti-Semitic past.
"My loyalty to my country and my principles and my heritage exceeds any loyalty to my party," wrote Dershowitz, who is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel.
Ellison has come under fire for previously defending anti-Semitic leaders and strongly criticizing Israel, arguing in the past that American foreign policy in the Middle East is dictated by the Jewish state.
Dershowitz wrote that Ellison has defended people who are anti-Semites, including political activists Louis Farrakhan and Stokely Carmichael. The Harvard professor also said, citing "a prominent lawyer, with significant credibility," that Ellison once told a female law student that she should not be in law school and could not respect her because she was Jewish and a woman.
According to one of Ellison's old classmates, the Minnesota Democrat has argued that "an oppressed group could not be racist toward Jews because Jews were themselves oppressors," according to Mother Jones.
On a 2008 trip to Saudi Arabia, Ellison met with the president of a bank used to pay the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Ellison's voting record on Israel did not please Dershowitz either.
"With regard to Israel, Ellison was one of only a small number of Congress people who recently voted against funding the Iron Dome, a missile system used by Israel to protect its civilians against rocket attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah," Dershowitz wrote. "His voting record with regard to the Nation State of the Jewish people is among the very worst in Congress."
"The Democrats must choose between electing Ellison or keeping centrist liberals, who support Israel, like me and many others in their party," Dershowitz wrote.
"I hope they choose wisely. But if they do not, I have made my choice."