Al Hawadeth for Arab Americans

اليوم :
  • :
  • :

A Historic Win

Publish Date: 6/29/2020 8:52:47 PM


By Dr. James J. Zogby

President of Arab American Institute

On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Jamaal Bowman made history by winning the Democratic Party primary in New York State’s 16th Congressional District. Here’s why his victory is so significant.


Bowman beat Eliot Engel, a 16-term incumbent Congressman who served as Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and had the backing of nearly the entire Democratic Party establishment, including former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and ran on an unabashedly progressive platform that included support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. He was outspent by a margin of two to one. And because Bowman had taken positions calling for justice for Palestinians, “dark money” pro-Israel super-PAC’s spent an additional $2,000,000 in independent expenditures in an effort to tear down his character and defeat him. Despite all of these challenges, Jamaal Bowman won, sending the message that change is on the way.


Bowman’s victory against an entrenched incumbent came on the heels of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 unseating of 10 term Congressman Joseph Crowley in the nearby 14th District of New York. There were similarities between the two races and some important differences.


Both Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman are young people of color who defeated older white men whose constituents in their congressional districts are majority minority voters. And because both of the young winners were community activists who had developed strong grass roots networks and the incumbent Members of Congress they were challenging had grown lazy and entitled, assuming their victories were assured, Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez represented both generational change and the importance of maintaining direct contact with the voters one seeks to represent.


Both of these upstart candidates were members of the DSA, running on a progressive agenda that promoted universal health care, a quality education, a decent job, a clean environment, and affordable housing as fundamental human rights. Both were endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders (Bowman was also endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren), while Crowley and Engel had the support of the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives. As such, they represent the insurgent left’s victories over the party’s centrist establishment.

While both of the defeated Members of Congress relied largely on large donations from big donors or political action committees to fund their campaigns, Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez raised their campaign funds from individual small donors – replicating the approach taken by Sanders in his 2016 and 2020 presidential runs. Their wins were victories for campaign finance reform.

These similarities aside, there were two fundamental differences between the Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman victories that contribute to making the Bowman win historic. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory was a shock that caught both Crowley and the Democratic establishment by surprise. Determined that it wouldn’t happen again, New York State’s Governor, its two Senators, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Clinton (in her only endorsement of the 2020 election) all lined up behind Engel. By winning against this formidable line-up, Bowman demonstrated that the progressive wave isn’t a fluke.

And then there’s the role played by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Ocasio-Cortez’s position on justice for Palestinians matches those of Bowman, it never became much of a factor in 2018, largely because Crowley hadn’t made it an issue and because Ocasio-Cortez’s race was run largely under the radar. She didn’t come under attack from pro-Israel groups until she was in Congress and came to the defense of her sister freshmen members, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. 

Because Bowman was running against the very pro-Israel Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the party’s establishment and the pro-Israel lobby didn’t want a replay of the Ocasio-Cortez win, they invested heavily in the effort to defeat Bowman.

Engel had long been an AIPAC point person in Congress. In 2018, as he was poised to become the HCFA Chair, speaking at an AIPAC conference he pledged to use his position “to make sure that Israel continues to receive support... I want tell you that I sit down with AIPAC on every piece of legislation that comes out.”

Protecting Engel was important. One AIPAC-allied group, Democratic Majority for Israel (DMI), spent more than $1.5 million in the Engel/Bowman race. And not unlike the $1.4 million they spent earlier this year to attack Bernie Sanders, their ads were largely personal attacks on Bowman’s character. The DMI was smart enough to know that there were no votes to be won by supporting Israel – since Democratic voters were so alienated by Netanyahu’s policies nothing was to be gained by selling spoiled goods.

Despite the money spent against him, Bowman never wavered. A week before the election, he was challenged by a rabbi from Riverdale, an affluent neighborhood in his district. In an “open letter” published in the Riverdale Press, the rabbi expressed his concern that Bowman was espousing anti-Israel views and made a number of rhetorically inflammatory charges – with Palestinian terrorism mentioned in seven consecutive paragraphs.

Bowman refused to accept the bait and instead responded in a deeply respectful “open letter” of his own in which he made clear his views on foreign policy, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “are rooted in the values of human dignity” and his life experiences. In one moving passage, he noted:

“The uprising across the country against police violence also makes me empathize with the everyday experience and fear that comes with living under occupation. Just as the police force is an intimidating force in so many black communities, I can connect to what it feels like for Palestinians to feel the presence of the military in their daily lives in the West Bank. I can also understand the crushing poverty and deprivation in the Gaza strip. I believe Palestinians have the same rights to freedom and dignity as my Jewish brothers and sisters. I will fight for their liberation just as hard as I will fight for yours.”


In the end, not only did Jamaal Bowman win, he won by a decisive margin carrying all areas of his district and all major demographic groups. Interestingly, from vote tallies I’ve seen, he also beat Engel in precincts that were heavily Jewish.

This is yet another reason why Jamaal Bowman’s victory was historic.

For decades, the pro-Israel lobby was able to carry the day in Congress because Members feared the repercussions of criticizing Israel. That tide is turning. Polls show that a majority of Democrats now support greater balance in US policy, oppose Netanyahu’s behavior, and believe that aid to Israel should be cut because of violations of Palestinian human rights. That’s why AIPAC was forced to “allow” Members of Congress to condemn Israel’s plans to annex West Bank lands. And now their efforts to hurt Jamaal Bowman and save Eliot Engel failed.


This isn’t the first time that AIPAC has lost in their effort to defeat an “enemy” or save a “friend.” And it may be too much to hope that Bowman’s win will finally shatter the myth of AIPAC’s invincibility. The most extreme elements of the pro-Israel lobby will not give up easily, so we must remain vigilant. But as Jamaal Bowman’s win demonstrates, change is coming and that is what makes his victory so historic.

Source: Washington Watch- June 26, 2020


Read Too

All school districts in NY state are permitted to open this fall

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, in his email newsletter dated August 7, 2020 said: “Based on our infection rate of about one percent, New York State is in the best possible situation right now. If anybody can open schools safely, we can.” And he added “The infection rate statewide—in every region—is below the established threshold and therefore all school districts ...

#COVIDTimes : Malls in Phase 4 Regions and Jones Beach Activity Area are #NYReopening

Old photo for the beach on 2010 by Chanilim714 - COVIDTimes: While the Covid-19 cases surge in many states especially in Taxes and Florida, the State of NY already flattened the curve steadily. The state on July 09, conducted 73,558 tests, of which 786, only 1.06% were positive and total hospitalizations fell to 826 and 8 deaths, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo circulated email...

A Historic Win

By Dr. James J. Zogby President of Arab American Institute On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Jamaal Bowman made history by winning the Democratic Party primary in New York State’s 16th Congressional District. Here’s why his victory is so significant. Bowman beat Eliot Engel, a 16-term incumbent Congressman who served as Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and had the ba...

NY City still in phase 2, NY and NJ states carefully reopening in phases

Alhawadeth, by Adnan Khalil In NY the Executive Orders of reopen New York State gradually through 4 phases, to be implemented in smart way depending on the New Yorker counties degree of success in fighting COVID-19. For help determining whether or not a business is eligible to reopen, you can use the reopen lookup tool. Unfortunately NY C...

14-day quarantine for any visitors to NY,NJ and CT

14-day quarantine for any visitors coming from coronavirus hotspot areas to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut In a joint Press Conference, through TV, on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont declared the new restriction for travel to avoid returning any increase of coronavirus cases in the region, es...

JuneTeenth, Celebrations in Paterson

Alhawadeth – Paterson: By Adnan Khalil: In Paterson, New Jersey, at 9 a.m. on June 20th, hundreds of Patersonians marched to Islamic Center of Passaic County, The Broadway Mosque, where group prayers were held in the courtyard of the mosque, and then they headed to the park east of Paterson, where the main ceremony attended by Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, and the ceremony was attended...

Arab and Muslim Communities in Paterson participated in Juneteenth celebration

Alhawadeth – Paterson: This year's Juneteenth celebration is taking on a special significance following mounting protests in the United States after the death of black American George Floyd under the knee of the police officer in Minneapolis last month. In Paterson, New Jersey, the Islamic Center of Passaic County invited the Arab and Muslim community to participate in the group prayer...

ذكرى اعلان الاستقلال نبراس للتاكيد على حقوق البشر بالحياة والحرية والسعي نحو السعادة

يرتبط يوم الاستقلال الامريكي أو الرابع من يوليو عادةً بحفلات الشواء في المنازل وتسيير المواكب الاستعراضية الوطنية، وعروض الألعاب النارية. يُعتبر يوم الاستقلال عطلة وطنية، في كافة المدن تقام الاحتفالات وفي الصورة المرفقة تظهر بعض الاعلانات عن الاحتفالات التي ستقام في نيويورك ونيوجيرسي. إعلان الاستقلال الأمريكي هو وثيقة تبناها الكونغرس في 4 يوليو 1776، لتعلن أن المستعمرات الأمريكية الثلاثة عشر...

Civil Liberties & Community Groups Urge Governor Christie to Veto Bill Intended to Suppress Human Ri

Civil Liberties & Community Groups Urge Governor Christie to Veto Bill Intended to Suppress Human Rights Boycotts Earlier today, the New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill that is intended to suppress the right of New Jerseyans to engage in boycotts and divestment campaigns related to Israeli human rights abuses. Following strong opposition from civil liberties and community organizations, ...

The Social Good Summitمؤتمر قمة الاجتماعيات الجيدة

The Social Good Summitمؤتمر قمة الاجتماعيات الجيدة The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. Held during UN Week from September 27-28, the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. Our theme,...

Labor Day Parade موكب عيد العمال

Labor Day Parade موكب عيد العمال NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Thousands of New Yorkers and laborers march up Fifth Avenue in the annual Labor Day Parade in New York, on September 12, 2015. شارك الآلاف من العمال و سكان نيويورك في المسيرة السنوية في الجادة الخامسة في مدينة منهاتن – نيويورك في 12 سبتمبر 2015. ,ومن ضمنهم بل دبلازيو عمدة نيويورك ومحافظ الولاية كومو ، وهو تقليد درجت علية الم...

وقفة في التايمز سكوير في نيويورك تنديدا بالممارسات الإسرائيلية

دعوة لتفعيل المقاومة الشعبية لصد انتهاكات العدوان الاسرائيلي على الاقصى 18 سبتمبر- ايلول 2015 نيويورك – الحوادث : تجمع المئات من ابناء الجالية العربية والفلسطينية والامريكان المتضامنون مع الحق الفلسطيني وقفة في التايمز سكوير في نيويورك تنديدا بالممارسات الإسرائيلية في المسجد الأقصى المبارك. دعى للتظاهرة جمعية مسلمين امريكان لفلسطين وشارك فيها مركز الجالية الفلسطينية في كلفتون نيوجيرسي وم...

City to hold 9/11 Memorial مدينة باترسون تحي ذكرى 11 سبتمبر

City to hold 9/11 Memorial مدينة باترسون تحي ذكرى 11 سبتمبر FRIDAY, AT 8 a.m. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! The city will hold its annual September 11 memorial service on Friday at 8 a.m. at Railroad Plaza near the Paterson train station, officials said. The ceremony will be in recognition of Kenneth Lira of Paterson, a 28-year-old computer technician who was killed at the Twin Towers in the 2001 terr...

Famous Kiss In Times Square نيويورك.. المئات يتبادلون القبلات في ذكرى نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية

نيويورك.. المئات يتبادلون القبلات في ذكرى نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية WWII Veterans Recreate Famous Kiss In Times Square Marking End of World War II NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: A couple recreates the iconic Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph in Times Square on August 14, 2015 in New York City. The Williams, Navy veterans also celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary, recreated the kiss as part...