Top Progressive Group Opts to Not Expel U.S. Congressman Over Israel Trip

Democratic Socialists of America's National Political Committee said it will reexamine its relationship with Rep. Jamaal Bowman due to his lack of support for the BDS movement, and as of now will not re-endorse him

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Rep. Jamaal Bowman speaking in front of the Capitol in Washington last month.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman speaking in front of the Capitol in Washington last month.Credit: Anna Moneymaker - AFP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON - The Democratic Socialists of America announced Thursday it will not expel Rep. Jamaal Bowman from its organization following weeks of internal debate over his recent visit to Israel and the West Bank.

However, DSA's National Political Committee said it will reexamine its relationship with the first-term New York Congressman and DSA member. The group is "strongly condemning" his "egregious" vote in favor of supplying Israel with a supplemental $1 billion in Iron Dome missile defense system funding, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and travelling to Israel with J Street, a pro-Israel lobby group.

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Bowman, who was on a J Street-organized congressional delegation alongside several other lawmakers who have been notably critical of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, met with senior Israeli officials as well as Palestinian activists and leaders and Israeli civil society organizations aimed at ending the occupation. Bowman highlighted his meeting with Palestinian children in Hebron, tweeting that “the occupation must end.”

DSA has held a fierce internal debate whether to expel Bowman over his participation on the trip, his consistent refusal to back the BDS movement, and his continued relationship with J Street following the trip despite pressure from a wide swath of DSA chapters.

"There is no excuse for Rep. Bowman’s decisions," DSA said, saying that it will hold its members who are elected officials to greater accountability moving forward, particularly concerning support for the BDS movement.

It said it opted not to expel Bowman after seeing "considerable movement from Rep. Bowman and his office, and a marked demonstration of interest in both accountability, and collaboration on an effective and strategic path forward to advance the Palestinian cause through progressive struggle on the congressional terrain."

However, the committee said it will not re-endorse Bowman "unless he is able to demonstrate solidarity with Palestine in alignment with expectations we have set." It added that "expelling Bowman would mean handing the perfect tool to the establishment to stoke divisions within the Palestine solidarity movement, the left and the working class, and play into the strategy of divide and conquer. It is exactly what our enemies want."

Moreover, it acknowledged that Palestinian DSA members and BDS backers have called to advance BDS principles that are "strategic in their given contexts....and to maintain a high degree of discipline about what we communicate publicly, lest we fuel Zionist media narratives."

"The Democratic Socialists of America are unwavering in our commitment to Palestinian solidarity, and liberation both here and abroad. We will not allow the difficulty of navigating the contradictions inherent in these struggles to undermine our progress or lead us astray," DSA's statement concluded. "We remain hopeful that Congressman Bowman continues to work with the NPC on using his office to demonstrate solidarity with Palestine."

Various leading Palestinian activists have since come out in support of Bowman following the backlash, including Arab American Institute Director Omar Baddar, who tweeted that Bowman "is among a fairly small group of principled people in Congress who are fighting for meaningful progress on both foreign & domestic policy. This includes relentlessly speaking up for Palestinian human rights in a context where that’s frequently punished."

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