A prominent Jewish Democratic lawmaker in New York City is launching a petition to force Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to abandon his support for Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) to assume control of the Democratic National Committee, the Washington Free Beacon has exclusively learned.
Dov Hikind, a 34-year Democratic New York state assemblyman and leading pro-Israel voice, disclosed to the Free Beacon late Monday that he has started a petition meant to pressure Schumer into pulling his public support for Ellison, who has long been accused of holding anti-Israel positions that fall out of the mainstream Democratic party.
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Electing Ellison to head the DNC would send a message that the Democrats have embraced anti-Israel policies and no longer care about being a centrist party in touch with mainstream America, according to Hikind, who lashed out against Schumer and Ellison in a wide-ranging interview with the Free Beacon.
Hikind's public campaign against Ellison comes just weeks before the Democratic party is set to elect its new leader, with most polls showing that Ellison is the frontrunner.
"It's almost like the Democrats want to entirely destroy their party," Hikind said. "When someone like Ellison can be a leading candidate to be the head of a major party, we're in a lot of trouble."
Hikind, a prominent Democratic voice who has long advocated for bringing his party back to the political center, said that the Democratic Party has learned nothing from the election of President Donald Trump.
"The Democratic party has a serious Israel problem," Hikind said, explaining that Ellison represents a far left wing section of the party that advocates weakening ties with Israel.
"It's like sticking the knife in and twisting it," Hikind said. "After eight years of [Barack] Obama, where things between Obama and the Israeli government were not a very good relationship, what do they [Democrats] do? They stick the knife in and dig it deeper."
Hikind expressed further confusion as to why more national Democratic voices are not speaking out against Ellison.
"Democrats have been pretty silent on Ellison," he said. "And I mean national Democrats. It's very strange. For them to say, ‘We're starting a new chapter, let's not look back.' That's not true. If you have this guy who is the leading candidate … you are lying to the people. You are lying to the Democrats. Stop lying to me!"
Hikind said that he could not stand by while Ellison emerges as the next Democratic leader.
"After eight years of difficulty, we're going to put someone in who is so radical, so out of the mainstream, so off the charts?" Hikind said, adding that his new petition aims to show Schumer that his support for Ellison does not represent mainstream Democratic voices
The petition, hosted at the website Change.org, reads: "Senator Schumer: We urge you to withdraw your support for Keith Ellison to be the next Chair of the Democratic National Committee."
The petition goes on to highlight Ellison's record of voting against funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, which destroys terrorist rockets before they land on civilian towns. It also highlights Ellison's 2010 claim that American foreign policy "is governed by Israeli interests."
Ellison's "antipathy towards Israel and Jews is crystal clear," the petition states.
"Keith Ellison is someone with a record that is so radical and off the charts, why in the world Sen. Schumer in New York chose this guy to represent me and represent Democrats is beyond the pale," Hikind told the Free Beacon.
"It's just beyond comprehension to me and so many others, this is almost universal," he added. "I would say, except for the left, the so called progressives, that it's almost like nobody learned the lesson of the recent election. The more I read [about Ellison], the more I'm scratching my head trying to figure out where Schumer is coming from."