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On November 17th, our working group released a statement calling for Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s expulsion from DSA if he did not meet our basic demands to uphold support for the BDS movement, joining a growing list of grassroots accountability calls happening across DSA — including over 35 DSA and YDSA chapters.
Representatives from DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC), NYC, Lower Hudson Valley, and our working group met with Rep. Bowman and his team on Friday November 19th. Since that meeting, Rep. Bowman’s office communicated that they were not ready to accept our most significant demands, including refusing to rescind participation in the J Street U Town Hall and discontinuing his relationship with the Zionist lobby, equivocating on supporting the Defend the 6 Resolution, and no clear commitment to opposing any future funding for the state of Israel. For this reason, in conjunction with his other recent actions, we call for the NPC to formally begin the process of expelling Jamaal Bowman from the DSA.
This formal call for expulsion comes as the culmination of a months-long, three-fold accountability process by our working group dating back to Spring of this year, in which we:
- Sought to establish what motivated the harmful actions Bowman took against Palestinians (i.e. was it due to a lack of education or cynical political calculations?),
- Directly offered political education and electoral support on the issue of Palestine, and
- Explored mechanisms to hold Bowman accountable to DSA’s principles, policies, and resolutions that call for active support of Palestinian civil society’s BDS call and demands.
In May, Bowman publicly slandered and opposed the BDS movement in an interview with the Jewish Commtunity Relations Council of New York, saying that he does not align with BDS-supporting organizations, of which the DSA is one.
Following this, our steering committee in concert with working group members of the New York City and Lower Hudson Valley DSAs, initiated an accountability process with Bowman’s office. Since our first meeting in the Spring, this process has included meeting with his Legislative Director, outreach to his Chief of Staff for meetings with Bowman himself, statements condemning his actions, all of which eventually escalated to the delivery of our basic demands of all endorsed candidates to Bowman himself on the Nov. 19th meeting. We subsequently concretized these demands in an email to Bowman’s Chief of Staff on Nov. 22.
In that email, we explicitly told Bowman that just like the propaganda trips sponsored by Zionist groups, Zionist propaganda events are carefully constructed to validate Zionism by advancing certain narratives that normalize Israeli apartheid and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from historic Palestine.
Tonight, Rep. Bowman has once again crossed what we communicated is a hard line for our working group and our movement partners by attending a J Street U Town Hall to talk about his propaganda trip sponsored by J Street — a Zionist lobby organization.
This decision, as well as his Iron Dome vote, were not matters of lacking education, but matters of political calculus. As it was communicated to us, although Bowman desires to be good on Palestine, he is not ready to take on the Zionist lobby yet and principally stand by his stated values.
Therefore, it is clear to us that Bowman’s shortcomings on Palestine, unfortunately, are not matters that can be corrected solely through political education. Instead, he and his team continue to place political expediency ahead of Palestinian humanity.
Despite insisting that he is sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people, he has continued to show that he simply is not in solidarity with Palestinians, nor that he is willing to do what solidarity would actually necessitate. Building real solidarity and social bonds with Palestinians requires more than just recognizing and feeling bad for their plight. It requires following the lead of Palestinian civil society, and further, it also means empowering Palestinians everywhere to meaningfully change their own circumstances.
These are basic principles of solidarity that all socialists should extend to all liberation struggles — domestic and international — including Palestine. The NPC has stated many times that our organization not only supports Palestinians, but that DSA stands in solidarity with them.
Countless Palestinians have communicated with DSA where they stand on this matter. A number of Palestinian DSA members — within and outside of our working group — support expulsion. Two of the largest Palestinian grassroots organizing bodies in America (i.e. National Students for Justice in Palestine and Palestinian Youth Movement) along with many more Palestinian-led groups have endorsed our call for expulsion as well. The BDS National Committee re-stated publicly just last week that politicians who travel to Israel with Israel lobby groups are crossing Palestinians’ BDS picket line and are harming the Palestinian struggle.
In our previous statement, the BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group called on the NPC to not shirk its responsibility to its membership, Palestine Solidarity partners, and Palestinians everywhere. The calls for accountability coming from these groups have only grown louder since then. Despite months of accountability efforts, Bowman continues to choose not to live up to the expected values, principles, and actions of a DSA member and endorsed candidate.
Thus, in line with our Working Group’s overwhelming vote, we call on the NPC to immediately begin the expulsion process for Rep. Bowman in line with Article 1, Section 3 of the DSA Bylaws. In doing so, the NPC has the opportunity to set an important precedent going forward for how DSA will continue to build electoral power. Will we be a socialist organization that builds electoral power that is accountable to our socialist values, or will DSA devolve into a congressional advocacy organization that trades out its values for access to anyone on Capitol Hill offering us crumbs?
NPC’s actions in the days to come will be important indicators for where DSA leadership wants to take our organization, but regardless of their chosen course of action, where DSA goes next rests with all of us.
DSA BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group