Jewish and pro-Israel US congressman announces Democratic primary challenge to President Biden

US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) on Friday announced his candidacy to challenge President Joe Biden in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary.

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

Phillips, 54, filed to enter the New Hampshire primary on Friday morning and said in his announcement that he did so as a Democrat and supporter of Biden but that it was time for younger political leadership.

“I am running for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States because it is time for a change, and I am ready to lead our great nation to a secure and a more prosperous future,” Phillips said. “I do so not in opposition to President Biden, who has my affection and my gratitude, rather with two core convictions: That I am the Democratic candidate who can win the 2024 election, and second, it is time for the torch to be passed to a new generation of American leaders.”

While Phillips has a 100 percent record of voting with Biden’s initiatives in Congress, he has expressed skepticism of Biden administration policy on issues like border security and Iran, including the president’s decision to release $6 billion in funds to Iran as part of a prisoner exchange deal in September.

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“On the surface, I understand the questions about the $6 billion,” Phillips said at a congressional hearing. “It is my hope, it is my expectation, that this is a baby step — a carrot, if you will — to reduce this behavior, to provide an incentive to modify behavior moving forward.”

Phillips, who describes himself as a “fierce defender of Israel” in the House of Representatives, supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has been vocal in his support of Israel in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of more than 1,400 people in Israel.

“We need a two-state solution. We need peace and prosperity and opportunity for both Palestinians and Israelis living side by side. But right now it is black and white,” Phillips said in an interview with Minnesota public radio on Oct. 12. “We need the United States to continue to support Israel. We need to eradicate Hamas. And we need to encourage Palestinians to elevate a leadership that can sit at the table with principle, with good character, and with the intention for peace.”

Phillips has also previously defended his fellow Minnesota Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, accusing Republicans of weaponizing charges of antisemitism against her.

“Why will 90 percent of Jewish members of the United States House of Representatives vote to maintain [Omar’s] committee assignment [on the House Foreign Affairs Committee]?” Phillips asked during a House floor debate on expelling Omar from her seat in February. “Quite simply because we believe in the human capacity to make amends and that atonement should be rewarded, not punished … This is the very weaponization of antisemitism that I, as a Jewish person, find repulsive, dangerous, and shameful.”

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Omar, one of the fiercest critics of Israel in Congress, was subsequently expelled from the committee in a party-line vote by the Republican majority.