Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the U.S. Congress’ first Muslim lawmaker, joined a delegation to Israel. Ellison, elected in November, is part of a delegation headed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, that arrived in Israel on Friday. Ellison is the only freshman lawmaker in the group, which also will go to Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Ellison was endorsed by leading Jews in his St. Paul constituency after he repudiated his mid-1990s association with the Nation of Islam. After his election, he pledged to visit Israel as soon as he could. “Congressman Ellison’s life has been committed to the promotion of peace,” said his spokesman, Rick Jauert. “His very presence on this important trip is a significant step in forwarding that agenda.” Others on the trip are: the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.); the Government Reform Committee chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.); the Rules Committee chairwoman, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.); the Natural Resources Committee chairman, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.); and Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio.). Waxman and Lantos are Jewish; Rahall is an Arab American.
Ellison on Israel trip