To Those Who Criticize the Jamaal Bowman Vote
Jamaal Bowman beat Elliot Engel in a primary to win his seat. Engel was an unquestioning supporter of whatever the government of Israel did, along the lines of AIPAC. He never found a reason to criticize anything Israel under Netanyahu did.
Bowman distinguished himself as a supporter of Palestinian rights. During the war in May, he (and AOC) took on neighboring Congressman Ritchie Torres, who has continued the Engel tradition. In response to Torres, Bowman wrote (https://www.yahoo.com/now/u-rep-bowman-disputes-fellow-142010274.html):
My brother Ritchie, this is not about a Twitter mob,” Bowman tweeted. “This is about justice, humanity, and equality. This is about Palestinians deserving peace, land, and self-determination, like everyone else.”
He continued in a thread, writing: “This is about Palestinians having their land and homes taken from them and our ignorance of Palestinian pain. That is the truth, my brother. The Palestinians are an occupied people. They are an oppressed people. Innocent people and children are suffering as America supports the occupation and denies Palestinians freedom.”
“Let us build a world,” he concluded, “where not another person dies senselessly and where we recognize and respect the humanity of all.”
This is not just a rhetorical stance. Bowman has taken votes in Congress on Israeli aid -- and taken heat for them -- that went against the AIPAC line. (https://forward.com/fast-forward/469039/jamaal-bowman-defends-support-of-bill-to-regulate-aid-to-israel/)
To characterize Bowman as "voting for the IDF," as was done here, is a gross misrepresentation of his record, and a serious misunderstanding of the Iron Dome vote, which went down 420 to 9 and had been framed as protection against the Hamas practice of indiscriminately firing missiles into civilian centers inside Israel.
The call for Bowman's "discipline" by DSA is not only a direct attack on him, but a calculated shot across the bow of AOC, given her vote on the Iron Dome legislation. It is targeting two of the most courageous leaders for Palestinian rights in the U.S. Congress, both of whom represent districts with significant numbers of voters who care about Israel's survival, in the name of Palestinian rights. It is imposing a moral purity test of the most absurdly sectarian sort.
I don't doubt for a second that a number of the people who signed that letter did so because they are opposed on principle to DSA supporting democratic socialists who run and are elected on the Democratic Party line. Purity tests on Israel and Palestine are just a bonus for them.
But if they are successful -- either by having the NPC entertain their proposal or simply in a war of attrition against DSA electeds that makes them decide that the tsuris is not worth it -- they will have destroyed DSA as an organization with political value, and remade it into a sectarian shell.
The defense of Bowman and AOC against such attacks is where we must make our stand.
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.
North Star caucus member pages
antiracismdsa (blog of Duane Campbell)
Hatuey's Ashes (blog of José G. Pérez)
Authory and Substack of Max Sawicky
Online University of the Left
The Washington Socialist
In These Times
Black Agenda Report
Working Families Party
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Progressive Democrats of America
Democracy for America
Black Lives Matter
Movement for Black Lives
The Women's March
Jewish Voice for Peace
National Abortion Rights Action League
National Organization for Women
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights