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(63,060 posts)
Mon Jun 24, 2024, 02:56 PM Jun 24

NY-16: How Jamaal Bowman Blew Up His Own Coalition [View all]

The role of AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying organization, has dominated coverage of the race between Bowman and current Westchester county executive George Latimer. And it is true that AIPAC has ploughed a fortune into the race in hopes of defeating Bowman, who has staked out increasingly hostile positions since October 7.

But AIPAC also spent heavily against Bowman when he first ran and won, unseating longtime Israel champion Elliot Engel in 2020. The same reason Bowman overcame the impact of AIPAC spending four years ago, but faces an uphill struggle to do so now, is that he has moved significantly to the left on Israel. As a result of that continued shift, he drew an attractive challenger, Latimer, into the race, compounding his challenge.

The easiest way to measure the change is that in 2020, Bowman had J Street’s endorsement. J Street is a liberal pro-Israel group that has a fraction of AIPAC’s budget and also lacks its decades of institutional ties to the Jewish community. But J Street, which believes in the two-state solution and assigns Israel’s government a large share of the blame for its failure to materialize, represents a significant and growing share of Jewish opinion.

This year, J Street withdrew its endorsement of Bowman. That devastating move followed a series of comments Bowman had made that aligned himself with left-wing protesters rather than with liberal Zionists. The final straw was Bowman’s appearance with Norman Finkelstein, a hyperbolic critic of Israel and author of The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. That episode, which Bowman did apologize for, followed a long string of comments, including a podcast where he stated, “The money to Israel is part of supporting another settler colonial project, which Israel is.” The phrase “settler colonial project” evokes an antisemitic left-wing theory.


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