House Dem. leaders endorse Israel critic Jamaal Bowman after Jewish Dems’ group backs challenger

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The three top Democrats in the US House of Representatives endorsed Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a fierce Israeli critic, days after the party’s leading Jewish group endorsed his primary challenger.

The endorsement is not unusual — House leaders in both parties routinely favor incumbents facing tough primary races — but it comes as the New York lawmaker is facing a challenge from a popular local elected official, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who has blasted Bowman’s Israel rhetoric and recently gained the backing of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.

The endorsement Friday, distributed by Bowman’s campaign, emphasized his local bona fides and did not touch on his condemnations of Israel, which he has accused of “genocide” in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

“Congressman Bowman’s life experiences — raised by a single mom in public housing and founding a public school serving low-income children in the Bronx — have shaped him into a public servant who fights for economic justice and in defense of historically underrepresented communities,” said the statement by Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar of California.

Part of “The Squad”

Bowman was first elected in 2020 and is part of the Squad, the group of progressive Democratic representatives who are broadly critical of Israel. He represents a district that spans Westchester and part of the Bronx in New York City, and is home to a sizable Jewish community.

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) speaks prior to U.S. President Joe Biden delivering remarks on the federal government’s debt limit during a visit to SUNY Westchester Community College Valhalla in Valhalla, New York, U.S., May 10, 2023. (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

The Israel-Hamas war has become a focus of the campaign. Latimer has been firmly supportive of Israel since Hamas’ October 7 attack. In addition to the “genocide” charge, Bowman recently walked back a statement last year casting doubt on claims that Hamas committed rape in its October 7 attack on Israel, which launched the war. He has also lost the endorsement of J Street, the liberal Israel lobby.





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