AOC-backed Bowman’s likely victory over Engel bodes ill for Israel supporters

Bowman has made troubling comments about Israel. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

One more old-school pro-Israel Democrat looks to fall to a young, more progressive (read anti-Israel) up-and-comer as Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is projected to lose a seat he has held since 1989 to Jamaal Bowman, 44, a former school principal.

Bowman has already declared victory, although mail-in ballots had not yet been counted. According to Bowman, the Board of Elections awarded him 61 percent of the vote, with Engel taking only 34 percent, The New York Daily News reports. The challenger was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Engel is a powerful Democratic leader in the House, serving as chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He is also a vocal pro-Israel stalwart.

His likely replacement on the other hand has made worrying statements for Israel supporters. For example, Bowman has tweeted that Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are not anti-Israel. The two have made anti-Israel statements so harsh that major American Jewish groups have condemned then as touching on anti-Semitism.

He endorses Sanders’ view that aid to Israel should be leveraged to pressure the Jewish State. Bowman told Jacobin Magazine that “we should seriously consider placing conditions on the billions of dollars of military aid our government provides [Israel] in order to make sure that the rights and dignity of both the Israeli and Palestinian people are respected.”

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There are indications he is taking the Palestinian side in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

On his website he says, “Palestinians are entitled to basic human rights, safety from violence, and self-determination in a state of their own.” However, he makes no reference to Palestinian terror.

Bowman also repeats the charge that Israel has committed human rights abuses, an accusation hurled at it by its enemies. He told Jewish Insider, “This is not about singling out Israel and targeting Israel. This is about any country that we provide aid to that’s committing human rights violations — we need to have a conversation about conditioning some aid if those violations continue.”

Rabbi Avi Weiss, who lives in Bowman’s district, says in a JTA article that “the positions on Israel he has shared publicly are troubling.”

“I am alarmed that he made no mention of the threats facing Israel, including murderous acts that have not even spared our own district. Just a year and a half ago Ari Fuld, son of Rabbi Yonah Fuld, a past principal of SAR Academy, one of the largest schools in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, was knifed to death by a Palestinian terrorist,” Weiss writes.

Bowman’s projected win is more evidence of a marked move away from Israel support within the Democratic party. The Republican Jewish Coalition said it demonstrates “the shift in the Democrat[ic] Party away from support for Israel [accelerating] dramatically,” JNS reports.

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B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS that Bowman’s projected upset would mark the end of an era.

“Eliot Engel had been a longtime friend of the community, a strong advocate for close relations between the U.S. and Israel, and an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime,” said Mariaschin. “To say he will be sorely missed would be an understatement.”

Ultimately, Engel’s loss may have had more to do with demographics than anything else. New York’s 16th Congressional District has become less Jewish and more Hispanic and black. Bowman, who is black, may have been easier to identify with for these voters.