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November 17, 2021 1:47 pm

Democratic Socialists of America to Meet With US Rep. Bowman Over Israel Trip: ‘Our Highest Priority’

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Jamaal Bowman speaks at a watch party as he takes an early lead in the democratic primary for New York’s 16th Congressional District in Yonkers, New York, U.S., June 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) said Tuesday it had demanded a meeting with progressive New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman in the coming days, amid backlash among members over his recent trip to the Jewish state and support for US aid to Israel.

A member of the “Squad” of progressive House Democrats who has been endorsed by DSA, Bowman visited Israel on a tour organized by the liberal group J Street, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as well as Palestinian leaders and activists.

In 2020, Bowman captured the Democratic nomination for New York’s 16th District by beating veteran pro-Israel Congressman Eliot Engel, touting his support for both Israelis and Palestinians. Vocal in his criticism of Israel during its May conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Bowman has also faced pressure from the left for backing US aid to Israel — including a recent call by a Wisconsin DSA chapter for his expulsion from the group for voting to fund Israel’s Iron Dome missile system.

“The National Political Committee is aware of the trip that DSA member and Congressman Jamaal Bowman took to Israel this week, and has received letters from various DSA chapters and members about the situation,” DSA said in a statement.

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“DSA unapologetically stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their ongoing struggle for liberation,” it continued. “Our platform proudly states continued support for and involvement with the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and efforts to eliminate US military aid to Israel, while resisting the ‘normalization’ of relationships between the Israeli government and other governments.”

“The NPC is treating this as its highest priority right now; to work with the DSA BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group and the Congressman’s local chapters to address this directly with Representative Bowman,” the group said. “We will be meeting with him in the next few days. We will update the members as soon as possible following that meeting.”

The DSA says it counts over 92,000 members, with chapters in all 50 states.

The group’s Madison, Wisconsin chapter had called for Bowman’s expulsion as a DSA member over his July vote to approve $3.3 billion in US aid to Israel, and a later $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system, which passed overwhelmingly in the House. Fellow DSA members Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Cori Bush (D-MO) voted against the measure, with DSA member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) voting present.

“Career aspirations should not be allowed to compromise DSA’s strong stance of support for Palestinian national liberation,” the group said of Bowman’s votes. “On multiple occasions since his election, Representative Jamaal Bowman has used his office and public stature to work against the political positions of the Democratic Socialists of America and the principles of socialist internationalism.”

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