Ritchie Torres, Self-proclaimed 'pro-Israel Progressive,' Wins Congress Seat

The gay Black New Yorker says he doesn’t see himself as part of the Democratic camp that includes figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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Ritchie Torres speaks to the media on Election Day, November 3, 2020.
Ritchie Torres speaks to the media on Election Day, November 3, 2020.Credit: Adam Hunger,AP

NEW YORK – New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres is heading to Congress. The 30 year old, who has described himself as “the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive,” will be one of two first openly gay Black members of Congress when he takes office in January – along with attorney Mondaire Jones, who won the race in New York’s 17th congressional district.

Torres was well expected to win the seat in the 15th district, which covers the South Bronx, against Republican Patrick Delices. As of early Wednesday morning, results from in-person early voting and Election Day voting showed Torres wining with 88.3 percent of the ballots.

“Tonight, we made history,” Torres twitted on Tuesday night. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the essential borough, the Bronx.”

Torres has repeatedly distanced himself from other young progressive members of Congress. He told Jewish Insider in December that he doesn’t see himself as part of the Democratic socialist camp that includes figures such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“I am from the Bronx, I’m Afro-Latino, I’m Puerto Rican, I’m a millennial – but I’m also pro-Israel,” he said in the Jewish Insider interview. “The notion that you cannot be both progressive and pro-Israel is a vicious lie, because I am the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive.”

Torres also added that he opposes the boycott, divest and sanction movement against Israel, saying it “poisons whatever it touches” and is “an insidious form of antisemitism.”

The former consul general of Israel in New York, Dani Dayan, who has forged a close friendship with Torres over his years in the U.S., said the congressman-elect is “first and foremost an outstanding human being.”

“His personal story is incredibly inspiring and his love and support for Israel is heartwarming,” Dayan told Haaretz early on Wednesday. “We developed a close friendship and innumerable interactions for common causes.”