Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), June 23, 2020. (AP/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File) (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)
Jamaal Bowman

The Democratic Socialists of America group dissolved its BDS working group, which represents a major failure for the anti-Israel movement.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

The Democratic Socialists of America faces an organizational rift after it dissolved its anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions working group.

According to the New York Post, the move reflects the DSA’s inability to address internal protests after Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) visited Israel and met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in November.

The visit was organized by J Street. Other lawmakers who joined the trip were Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Rep. Marc Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Cal.), Rep. Melania  Stansbury (D-NM) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

Bowman is a member of “The Squad,” a group of Democratic lawmakers sharply critical of Israel. Its most well-known members include Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Bowman has accused Israel of withholding COVID medication from the Palestinians, which Israel did not do, and spoke at the DSA ‘s annual convention, which honored former British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He also opposed the Abraham Accords, which represented a major milestone in Israel-Arab peace.

However, Bowman broke with The Squad and voted for $1 billion in supplemental funding to help Israel replenish its stock of Iron Dome interceptor missiles. The freshman lawmaker also refuses to endorse BDS.

After the J Street visit, there was widespread speculation that Bowman would be expelled from the DSA and face some kind of backlash from The Squad.

Instead, the DSA suspended the BDS working group’s Twitter account which had criticized Bowman, and then afterwards dissolved the BDS working group.

Explaining the working group’s Twitter suspension, the DSA said in a March 18 statement, “On February 18 the [National Political Committee] … asked the BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group to take down a thread on Twitter. The reason for asking the thread to be taken down was that it contained misinformation about what Bowman’s office told DSA in an an off-the-record meeting.”

The statement added, “It is not appropriate — especially for an official DSA body — to violate agreements to respect the confidentiality of sensitive information, misrepresent those facts and make accusations.”

The Socialist Alternative Caucus denounced the DSA for shutting down the BDS working group. The organization’s leadership, the Caucus claimed, “Chose a bureaucratic maneuver in an attempt to shut down debate.”

A member of the DSA’s National Political Committee was quoted by the Post as saying the issue is causing a significant rupture.

“This level of vitriol in our organization, especially targeted against people largely on our side, is what has caused members of The Squad to indicate to us that they have felt alienated from DSA, and have felt pressured to distance themselves from us, or worse,” NPC member Gustavo Gordillo said.

Bowman represents New York’s 16th congressional district, where 740,000 Jews live.