(New York Jewish Week) — George Latimer, the Westchester County executive, on Wednesday announced a Democratic primary challenge against Rep. Jamaal Bowman, after the congressman repeatedly sparked controversy over his approach to the Israel-Hamas war.
Latimer made the announcement following a visit to Israel late last month, and after local Jewish leaders urged him to mount the primary challenge against Bowman for the 16th congressional district, which is located north of New York City and covers a small part of the Bronx.
Bowman, a progressive, had strained ties with some Jewish constituents before Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel. But his decision to join just a handful of fellow Democrats in Congress in calling for a ceasefire on Oct. 16 inflamed tensions further.
A video released by Latimer’s campaign on Wednesday touched on Israel, with the challenger decrying Bowman for the recent controversies.
“Unfortunately, instead of working for us, our congressman is making news for all the wrong reasons,” Latimer says in the video, as the footage shows a news clip about Bowman voting against a resolution backing Israel and condemning the Oct. 7 attack.
The campaign video mainly focused on other issues, such as infrastructure, property taxes and the environment, and criticized Bowman for his attention-grabbing statements.
“It’s time for Washington to stop bickering and start working for us. Let’s deliver real progressive results, not rhetoric,” Latimer said.
These are difficult times. NYers need a Congressmember who will listen to every voice, not just those who agree with him, & who will deliver on the issues that matter.
— George Latimer (@LatimerforNY) December 6, 2023
The war has divided Democrats, with progressives voicing criticism for Israel’s counteroffensive and demanding a ceasefire, in opposition to the Biden administration and more centrist party members, who are more supportive of the Jewish state. Bowman is a member of the progressive camp, while Latimer is among the centrists. The 16th district is home to a significant Jewish population and is around half Black and Latino.
Latimer visited Israel on a trip organized by the Westchester Jewish Council. The popular county executive visited Kfar Aza, a community ravaged during the Oct. 7 attack; visited Hamas victims at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center; spoke with families of hostages; and met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, the Westchester Jewish Council said in a statement after the visit.
Nine days after the Hamas attack, more than two dozen rabbis in the congressional district wrote a letter to Latimer urging him to challenge Bowman due to the incumbent’s “effort to erode support for Israel on Capitol Hill and within the Democratic Party.” Several dozen Jewish community members calling themselves “Jews for Jamaal” wrote a counter letter, expressing support for the congressman and urging Latimer against running.
Bowman held a meeting with Jewish constituents focused on antisemitism early last month. There was a small protest ahead of the event, but two participants told the New York Jewish Week at the time that the meeting was productive and Bowman appeared attentive to their concerns.
Ahead of the meeting, two prominent rabbis in the area said most of the community had dismissed the event. Bowman’s relationship with the Jewish community had long been strained, and tensions boiled over after the outbreak of the war, they said.
In one decision that frustrated the Jewish community, Bowman co-sponsored an Oct. 16 resolution with fellow progressive Rep. Cori Bush calling for an “immediate ceasefire.” The resolution did not mention Hamas, terrorism or Israeli hostages, and Bowman’s backing drew condemnation from the Westchester Board of Rabbis, which said the resolution denied Israel the right to defend itself while Hamas held hostages and drew false equivalence between the two sides.
Last week, Bowman drew further criticism when he accused Israel of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” at a protest calling for a ceasefire outside the White House. He is a member of the “Squad,” the group of progressive Democrats that has directed harsh criticism at Israel both before and since Oct. 7.
Bowman also landed in hot water for pulling a fire alarm inside a House building in October. He agreed to plead guilty to a false fire alarm charge and pay a $1,000 fine.
Bowman, a former school principal, won the district from longtime Jewish incumbent Eliot Engel in 2020. Bowman’s current term ends on Jan. 3, 2025. Congressional primaries in New York typically take place in the summer.
Can a Decent Pro-Palestinian ‘Left’ Exist?
A recent Guardian column by Nesrine Malik (“In Gaza, there’s a war on women. Will the west really ignore it because they’re ‘not like us’?”) is typical of the outlet’s content over the past four months. Here, however, Malik is speaking as a woman who’s putatively particularly incensed by war crimes committed against her own sex — except, well, not quite.
So extreme is her contempt for Israel and Israelis, that she devotes a 1,000-word column to the suffering of women during the conflict and focuses entirely on women in Gaza, while ignoring the systemic rape, murder, torture, and sexual mutilation of Israeli women and girls. Her piece does include five words mentioning sexual violence by Hamas, but the context is to accuse pro-Israelis of weaponizing such crimes to “void sympathy for those in Gaza.”
Unlike most columnists at the outlet, Malik doesn’t even attempt a proper moral throat-clearing – i.e., the act of clearly condemning Hamas’ violence before pivoting to the desired vilification of Israel.
Though her description of the challenges faced by women, particularly pregnant women, in the war-ravaged territory is harrowing, if you read the entire piece – which is framed as the Israeli “war against women” – it’s clear that Malik’s aim is to deflect attention away from Hamas terrorists who participated in indescribably cruel sexual violence against Jewish women and children by imagining that it’s Israelis who are engaged in a project of misogynistic brutality.
Malik, as we noted, isn’t alone.
In fact, the Guardian has been engaged in a de-facto editorial policy which we’d describe as a soft Oct. 7 denial — not outright denying that terrorist atrocities took place, as antisemitic conspiracy theorists do, but disseminating content day after day that changes the subject, obfuscating Hamas’ genocidal intentions and actions, while projecting the terror group’s inhumanity and racism onto Israel. The Jewish victims, and not the annihilationist antisemites, are framed as the true genocidaires.
A more cruel, immoral, and illiberal editorial line would be difficult to imagine.
Returning to Berkovitz’s piece, he writes that “in the death of Stalin, the Hungarian revolution of 1956, and the Prague Spring of 1968 disillusioned a lot of believers, prompting them to confess and to convert, and by the 1980s the Soviet bloc found itself without any substantial ideological backing by Western intellectuals.” As “the true oppressive nature of communism became evident,” he added, “more and more people started to doubt its principles, and, over time, periods arose where some more open-minded individuals and groups…who were once staunch supporters, began to question their own beliefs.”
He wasn’t drawing a direct parallel between Western idiots who supported Soviet totalitarianism and the pro-Palestinian left, but was arguing that there are historical precedents of extreme political movements changing course in reaction to cataclysmic events. Sadly, he concludes, by turning Hamas’ pogrom on Oct. 7th into a “non-event,” and by engaging in dissonance avoidance, obsessive Palestinian supporters at the Guardian and elsewhere — those who are engaged in an almost religious belief in the intrinsic righteousness of the cause — missed that opportunity.
Finally, the headline of this piece, “Can there be a decent pro-Palestinian left?” is inspired by a piece in Dissent written in the aftermath of 9/11 by Michael Walzer, titled “Can there be a decent left?” which pushed back against the reflexive anti-American and anti-Western fervor within the activist left after nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania were murdered by Al-Qaeda terrorists.
So, what would a decent pro-Palestinian left look like?
For starters, when protesting on the streets of London, Paris, New York City, and elsewhere, organizers would have a zero tolerance policy towards antisemitic chants and tropes; and they’d consistently condemn Hamas’ atrocities on Oct. 7 without qualification and make clear that their movement rejects all manifestations of Palestinian violence and extremism.
Similarly, truly decent pro-Palestinian media outlets would assign agency to Palestinians and, especially, their leaders; they’d cease contextualizing Hamas’s pogrom as an “understandable” reaction to Israel’s blockade and (non-existent) occupation; they’d use their platform to consistently denounce the genocidal antisemitic agenda of the group which carried out the Oct. 7 massacre; they’d refuse to platform columnists who celebrated the Oct. 7 attacks; and, in line with their putative concern for the rights of all women, would devote considerable space to documenting and condemning the vicious sexual brutality against Israeli women and girls by Hamas.
In the aftermath of the worst antisemitic atrocity since the Holocaust, the anti-Zionist left has responded by turning it to a “non-event” — not only avoiding any serious self-reflection, but doubling down on their first principles concerning Israel’s “intrinsic villainy.”
There may one day be a decent pro-Palestinian left, but that day is clearly a long way off.
Adam Levick serves as co-editor of CAMERA UK – an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), where a version of this article first appeared.
Obituary: Stanley Plotnick, 82, an e-commerce pioneer in Montreal—and a major philanthropist for Canadian and Israel-based projects
Stanley Plotnick, who played multiple leading roles for decades in the Montreal and Canadian Jewish community and was a major philanthropist for Israel-based projects, died on Feb. 19 at age 82. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Plotnick was a pioneering entrepreneur in the field of information technology, specifically e-commerce, and founded […]
Israel Denies UN Report Claiming Israeli Forces Assaulted Palestinian Women
Israel has denied allegations made by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) charging Israeli forces with rape, abduction and extrajudicial killings of Palestinian women in Gaza, labeling them “despicable and unfounded.”
The UN experts’ statement released on Monday said there were “credible allegations of egregious human rights violations” by the Israel Defense Forces against Palestinian women and girls.
“Many [Palestinian women and girls] have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten,” the statement from the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner said. “On at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food.”
“At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence,” the statement added.
The report did not mention how it carried out its investigation and neither did it provide any evidence of its allegations.
The Israeli government’s response was swift and stern.
“Israel forcefully rejects the despicable and unfounded claims published today by a group of so-called UN experts, including one who just days ago legitimised the massacre of October 7 in which more than 1,200 people were murdered, executed and raped, and another who publicly doubted the testimonies of Israeli victims of gender-based and sexual violence,” Israel’s mission to the UN in Geneva said in a statement.
The experts cited in the UN report include Francesca Albanese, the UN monitor who came under fire for justifying the Hamas-led attack on October 7 because it was “in response to Israel’s oppression.” Albanese also denied that rapes and beheadings against Israelis ever took place. Another of the experts listed, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls Reem Alsalem, likewise denied sexual violence against Israeli women, calling it “disinformation.”
“These [UN] mandate holders have remained silent on the horrific sexual violence and gender-based violence perpetrated by Hamas on and since October 7. It is clear that the co-signatories are motivated not by the truth but by their hatred for Israel and its people,” the Israeli statement said.
Israeli MK Danny Danon (Likud), who served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said that the statement was “nothing more than an endorsement of terror and genocide.”
“Where were these purported ‘experts’ when instances of violence occurred, such as when Hamas committed heinous acts against women, children, and families, raping, torturing and burning people alive?” Danon told The Algemeiner.
“Where are these ‘experts’ today to speak out for the innocent women and children and the remaining hostages, brutally kidnapped by Hamas and still held by the terror group with zero access to any form of humanitarian aid?”
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, lawyer and chairwoman of legal aid group Shurat HaDin who has in the past represented the families of Israeli terror victims in cases against Hamas, said Monday’s report came as “no surprise” given the UN’s anti-Israel bias.
“Hamas is losing the war, so its supporters rush to help it in its last dying moments. The sole weapon of Israel’s enemies is illusory slander plots against Israel,” Darshan-Leitner told The Algemeiner.
Darshan-Leitner went on to note that the accusations against the IDF were the same atrocities perpetrated against Israeli women on October 7.
“Since they want to keep symmetry between Israel and Hamas, they pretend everything that Hamas has done against Israel on a monstrous scale Israel has done also on a lower scale. But lies have to be proven,” she said. “Israel does not rape, Israel does not kidnap babies, Israel does not separate children from parents. Only the Hamas monsters do that as their go-pro cameras have proven.”
The UN statement also claimed that an “unknown number” of Palestinian women and girls had “reportedly gone missing after contact with the Israeli army in Gaza” and went on to say that there were reports of at least one female infant was “forcibly transferred by the Israeli army into Israel.”
The post Israel Denies UN Report Claiming Israeli Forces Assaulted Palestinian Women first appeared on Algemeiner.com.