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Israel Included in Westchester Ballot as Activists Criticize Incumbent From ‘Squad’ Over Alleged Photo Controversy

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a member of the left-wing “Squad” in Congress, faced controversy over his position on the Israel-Hamas conflict. The situation escalated when local Jewish leaders expressed their opposition to his re-election, citing his criticism of Israel and his interactions with the Jewish community. Bowman, who is in a tough political battle against a more moderate Democrat, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, lost support from some fellow progressives and faced backlash from Jewish activists.

A Jewish Insider piece titled “No More Bridges to Burn in Westchester” highlighted Bowman’s attempts to rally support for his election, including asking a local Jewish leader for photographs of them together. The leader had images from an event where Bowman had promised to support a House bill favoring former President Trump’s Abraham Accords Mideast peace deal. However, Bowman later withdrew his support for the legislation, causing discomfort among Jewish leaders. StopAntisemitism founder Liora Rez condemned Bowman for his hostile views toward Israel and the Jewish people, calling for him to find a new job.

Despite the backlash, Bowman’s office did not respond to the Jewish Insider piece. Rabbi Evan Hoffman expressed support for Latimer, emphasizing the Jewish constituents organizing a “Vote Shabbat” drive to oppose Bowman. The incumbent has been vocal about his support for the BDS movement against Israel as a nonviolent protest opportunity, while pro-Israel activists view it as antisemitic. Bowman’s opponent, Latimer, received significant support from AIPAC, leading to accusations from Bowman of attempts to buy the race.

Former Rep. Mondaire Jones chose to endorse Latimer, highlighting their differing views on Israel. Jones’ endorsement was aimed at standing up for his Jewish constituents, who have reportedly shown opposition to Bowman’s views on Israel. Despite the criticism, Bowman has garnered support from various sectors, such as the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority and endorsements from New York’s Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America. The Republican contender in the race, Dr. Miriam Flisser, faces an uphill battle in the heavily Democratic district, rated D+20 by the Cook Partisan Voting Index.

Overall, Rep. Jamaal Bowman found himself embroiled in controversy over his stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, which led to backlash from local Jewish leaders and activists. While facing criticism for his criticism of Israel and interactions with the Jewish community, Bowman’s supporters praised his efforts in Congress, particularly his work on legislation to establish a rent ceiling for certain families on government assistance. As the political battle heats up between Bowman and his opponent George Latimer, the outcome will determine the direction of representation in the district with a heavy Democratic leaning according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index.