Rep. Jamaal Bowman lost a major Jewish endorsement this week after making a joint appearance with an accused antisemite who publicly celebrated Hamas’ Oct 7 attack on Israel.
J-Street, a politically left-leaning Jewish advocacy nonprofit, removed Bowman’s name on Friday from a list of 122 members of Congress it is backing in 2024.
“When the rhetoric, the framing and the approach go too far, that’s where we are going to hold our line,” J-Street boss Jeremy Ben-Ami told The Forward, which first reported the story. “And that’s when we felt that Bowman crossed the line here.”
“The rhetoric around genocide, the singling out of Israel, and at times Jewish people, that happens in some of these events — that needs to be called out in real time,” Ben-Ami continued.
The J-Street leader specifically cited Bowman’s recent appearance with Norman Finkelstein as the last straw. Finkelstein, who has been denounced by critics as an “antisemite” for decades, wrote the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre “warms every fiber of my soul.”
Though Bowman later claimed he wasn’t aware of Finkelstein’s notorious history, during the event in Yonkers he said he was “starstruck” at seeing him and “watched him all the time on YouTube.”
“The accumulation of statements and positions over the past three months have made clear the differences in approach are significant,” Ben-Ami said.
J-Street, which supports progressive lawmakers around the country, helped power Bowman’s career after he ousted Rep. Eliot Engel in 2020. The group raised more than $39,000 for him in 2022 and kicked an additional $100,000 over to him through its J Street Action Fund.
Bowman, who called for a ceasefire, just days after the Hamas massacre in Israel, has positioned himself as one of Hamas’ strongest allies in Congress and has become a top target of pro-Israel groups looking to oust him. He faces a well-funded primary by Westchester County Executive George Latimer.