Squad’s anti-Israel rhetoric spurs tough primary challenges

Members of Congress’ far-left “Squad” who have defended Palestinians during the Middle East conflict may lose their seats at Democratic primaries.

A surge of funding from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its political arm United Democracy Project has given momentum to the efforts of Reps. Cori Bowman and Jamaal Bush, both of New York.

AIPAC-affiliated organizations will likely spend $100 million in this election cycle. This money will be spent primarily on House races. This is four times what the United Democracy Project, which was founded in 2022, spent during the election cycle.

AIPAC made a statement in The Washington Times saying that they only evaluate candidates on the basis of their support for US-Israel relations.

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Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Council Member, said that AIPAC’s backing would increase his chances of winning the rematch against Rep. Ilhan Oma, whose antisemitic remarks have been widely criticized.

He told The Forward that increased support for pro-Israel groups like AIPAC would result in a “different race”.

AIPAC did not confirm its support for Mr. Samuels in the Democratic Primary over Tim Peterson and Sarah Gad.

Rep. Summer Lee from Pennsylvania has also seen her job approval ratings fall and faces a fierce primary challenge by borough council member Bhavini Pattel in Pittsburgh’s district.

Ms. Lee has a five-fold cash advantage on Ms. Patel when she enters the race.

All these races are dominated by the Democratic Party’s split over the Israel/Hamas conflict.

Ms. Bush, Mr. Bowman, Lee and Omar were three of the nine House Democrats to vote against a House resolution that expressed support for Israel while condemning Hamas following the terrorist attack on the Jewish State in October.

Bowman and Ms. Bush are the most endangered. Bowman is the most vulnerable.

After defeating veteran Rep. Lacy clay in the 2020 Democratic Primary, Bush, a defund-the police activist who gained fame during the Ferguson riots of 2014, won the liberal 1st Congressional District which includes St. Louis County.

In a recent survey, she is now up to 22 points behind St. Louis prosecutor Wesley Bell. According to Federal Election Commission documents, Ms. Bush raised over $924,000 in cash and has more than $215,000 on hand.

Mr. Bell also walked the streets of Ferguson, Missouri with protestors after the fatal confrontation between Officer Darren Wilson (a Black officer) and Michael Brown (an unarmed Black person), a Black man.

Mr. Bell was elected to the Ferguson City Council in 2014. He facilitated discussions between protestors and police officers. Early on, the young Black prosecutor distinguished her position on Israel and that of Ms. Bush.

He said, when he started his campaign to replace Bush, “I believe we must stand with our friends, and Israel has been an ally for many years, but we want to keep the doors open to a two-state resolution.” “But we can’t give comfort and aid to terrorist groups, and Hamas, is a terrorist group, and Israel, has the right of self-defense.”

AIPAC has contributed more than $167,000 to Mr. Bell’s fundraising total of $800,000. According to reports on campaign finance, he has nearly $410,000 in cash.

Ms. Bush faces a federal investigation over the use of campaign funds for her husband’s security. She has denied any wrongdoing.

AIPAC, and its affiliates, have been a target of Ms. Bush for her outspoken pro Palestinian views. She has gained support from the Democratic Party on the other side in the Middle East conflict.

IfNotNow (founded in 2014) and other pro-Palestinian American Jewish groups have rallied around Ms. Bush, as well as her fellow Squad members.

Ms. Bush urged her supporters to “reject AIPAC & defeat far-right extremism across the U.S.

Mr. Bowman, a Black Liberal known for his political antics, has taken a similar path in New York’s 16th Congressional District. This district covers the Bronx, as well as the suburbs of Westchester County.

He entered the political scene in a wave that included candidates from the far left and defeated Eliot Engel, a long-time Democratic representative.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer is Mr. Bowman’s main opponent this year. He’s a veteran politician who has won a number of elections and receives financial support from AIPAC.

AIPAC contributed more than $400,000. According to federal records, he has raised $1.4 million in total and $1.3 million in cash.

Bowman’s camp is taking potshots at Latimer because he accepted donations from “Trump Megadonors” via AIPAC.

The campaign of Mr. Latimer has retaliated by accusing Mr. Bowman has been accused of “praising antisemites known to be.”

Mr. Bowman has nearly raised as much money as Mr. Latimer. He has over $630,000 in cash.

J Street, an alternative Jewish advocacy group that is more liberal than AIPAC, has withdrawn its support for Mr. Bowman was suspended in January. It stated that his anti-Israel remarks had “crossed the line.”

Mr. Bowman was censured for his antisemitic remarks after he was criticized by the House of Representatives for pulling the fire alarm at the U.S. Capitol while it was in session.

In a TikTok video, he was seen in November in New York with pro-Palestinian protesters saying: “There were propaganda used at the beginning of this siege.”

“There is still no proof of women or babies being raped or beheaded.” “But they continue to use that lie as propaganda,” he said.

He and other legislators were invited to a screening of the Hamas assault on Nov. 14, just days earlier.

Mr. Bowman retracted his remarks later. He told Politico the attack on Oct. 7, by Hamas, was a war crime and called for Hamas’ release of hostages in the Gaza Strip.

He said: “The U.N. has confirmed that Hamas is guilty of rapes and sexual violence. This is a reprehensible act that I condemn completely.”