Originally published December 8, 2021
Congressman Jamaal Bowman is under fire from the Democratic Socialists of America. His great crime? He went to Israel and visited with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The reaction from the extreme Left over this seemingly normal act opens up the question: Is the American Socialist movement competing with regimes like Iran in seeking the total annihilation of Israel?
Bowman is no great lover of Israel. He is from the same mold as fellow New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and is part of the same “Squad” that consistently attacks Israel – both in the media and on the floor of the House of Representatives. He, along with Black Lives Matter activist-turned-Congresswoman Cori Bush, joined AOC, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Presley, and Rashida Tlaib among “the Squad” upon his election in 2020.
Bowman primaried and defeated longtime Representative Eliot Engel, one of the strongest supporters of Israel in the Democratic Party. Bowman would openly call for the end of the “occupation” of the Palestinian people by Israel and would refer to Israel as a “far-right authoritarian” government. While not going so far as to endorse the BDS movement, he affirmed Americans’ right to boycott.
Bowman is also a member in good standing of the Democratic Socialists of America, one of only four in Congress. Unlike Bowman, the DSA makes its positions on Israel and the BDS movement very clear. During their 2017 national convention, the DSA refused to even allow “a substantive, structured and transparent debate within the organization” over whether or not to endorse BDS. The motion to support BDS “passed heavily” and was immediately followed with a loud chorus of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” DSA members openly advocate for the genocide of the Jewish people.
Bowman has been upsetting the DSA since his election. Representing a district that is 11% Jewish, he broke with the rest of the “Squad” and voted for Iron Dome funding. He then had the audacity to take up J Street’s offer for a trip to Israel to meet PM Bennett. J Street is no right-wing organization by any stretch of the imagination, yet the anti-Israel lobby group that poses as a pro-Israel lobby group was too “Zionistic” for the DSA.
The DSA debated how to punish Bowman, weighing the decision to expel him from their ranks. In their Twitter thread about the issues, the DSA wrote, “Following his egregious Iron Dome vote, the Congressman met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on his recent trip to Israel with J Street. The NPC strongly condemns these actions by Congressman Jamaal Bowman. There is no excuse for Rep. Bowman’s decisions.”
The “egregious” vote the DSA was referring to was to fund the Iron Dome after it greatly depleted its stock of defensive batteries when tens of thousands of rockets were fired from Gaza into civilian populations this past May. Iron Dome is a missile defense system; it does not attack. Were it not for Iron Dome, an untold number of Israeli men, women, and children would have been hurt and killed. Not only that, but Israeli casualties in those numbers would have forced the Israeli government to invade Gaza, which would have killed many more Palestinians. The DSA does not care about Palestinian lives; they only seek to end Jewish lives. Israel, to the DSA, has no right to exist. It must be Palestine, a true apartheid state where no Jew is allowed, “from the river to the sea.”
The DSA statement deciding to not expel Bowman is enlightening on how they feel Bowman will support their cause going forward. “We recognize the threat that Bowman and other members of the “Squad” pose to the Zionist lobby and the important role DSA can play with them in advancing Palestinian rights and anti-imperialist struggle at the federal level. Already, we have seen considerable movement from Representative Bowman and his office, and a marked demonstration of interest in both accountability, and collaboration on an effective and strategic path forward to advance the Palestinian cause through progressive struggle on the congressional terrain…Bowman could play a vital role in the fight for Palestinian liberation by linking it to liberation movements closer to home.”
Morton Klein, the President of the Zionist Organization of America, appeared on Newsmax’s “Wake Up, America,” proposing a different tactic. As long as he remains a Democratic Socialist, Bowman is certainly a danger to the bipartisan support that Israel deserves in Congress. The socialist wing of the Democratic Party grows stronger every year. It is incumbent on his constituents, both Jewish and not, to demand that he leave the organization. As long as he’s willing to display “considerable movement” for them, they will gain and grow. If he leaves the organization over their actions against him, that would go a long way in showing that he truly wants peace in the region.