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Jamaal Bowman Claims AIPAC Has 'Full Control' of Congress

AP Photo/Nathan Howard

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) is facing tough prospects ahead of next month's primary, and his recent comments about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) likely won't help his chances of winning his primary against Westchester County Executive George Latimer. On Monday, Bowman used an antisemitic trope as he claimed that AIPAC has "full control of this district, just like they now have full control of Congress--as they fund everyone in Congress."

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During a call for "Vote Save America 2024," Bowman acknowledged that he is "going up against a viable, well-known, well-liked opponent," and said Latimer "is the top recipient of AIPAC money in the country.

The Squad member then went on to mention talking points heard ad nauseum from those Squad members who are facing primary challengers and their supporting organizations. "AIPAC is funded by MAGA, racist, right-wing Republicans," Bowman insisted, as he went on to lambast Republicans and tie them to AIPAC. 

"My so-called, uh, lifelong Democratic opponent is partnering with these people to take me out," Bowman said about Latimer, who has indeed run only as a Democrat. "Why? Because I'm speaking for human rights and humanity and freedom and justice and equality for all people! Black, brown, LGBTQ, marginalized, poor, Palestinian, wherever they're from, if they're going through oppression, we are here to support and uplift them!"

His rant got even more unhinged from there, as he said this is "because we have to save ourselves as a human race, we are literally destroying ourselves because we are thirsty and drunk with power, power over each other! Maintaining a caste system of the white male supremacy system that we have to get rid of! That's why we're here! That's why I attempt to govern myself in a way that aligns myself with working people, marginalized people, poor people, people who we often forget about. We govern with them because they need a seat at the table, a voice at the table, and they need to help me make sure I'm governing on their behalf."

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It's at this moment that Bowman referenced AIPAC once more to call the group out by name. "That's not what AIPAC wants," Bowman claimed, gesturing for emphasis. "AIPAC before me had Eliot Engel," he said, referring to the pro-Israel Democratic incumbent whom Bowman beat in the 2020 primary. "Next to me they had Nita Lowey," he continued, referring to the pro-Israel congresswoman who represented New York's 17th Congressional District. "Thirty years each! So they have full control of this district, just like they now have full control of Congress as they fund everyone."

CNN's Edward-Isaac Dovere shared the clip, also linking to his lengthy coverage of the state of New York's 16th Congressional District primary race.

"The war in Gaza is reverberating all the way through north Bronx and Westchester County, defining the most competitive primary an incumbent House Democrat is facing anywhere in the country," the CNN report began.

From there, some points don't reflect too well on Bowman, including when it comes to his own words: 

Now even many of Bowman’s fellow New York Democrats in Congress say privately they doubt he will win – but more than that, when asked by CNN, several pointedly refused to say that they want Bowman to win, or that they would support him as the race enters its final month ahead of the June 25 primary.

While Bowman says antisemitism is “abhorrent” and that his criticism is targeted at the way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is conducting a war he believes could constitute genocide, in some parts of his district, his response to October 7 is top of mind. Even Bowman supporters acknowledge he was already in deep trouble holding on to his seat by October 6.

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Shelley Mayer, a state senator whose district largely overlaps with the congressional district, initially backed Bowman. Bowman’s response to the Hamas attack convinced her to switch to endorse Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

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Bowman’s response to the war crystallizes larger problems, including  pulling a fire alarm in a House office building last fall and public shouting matches with Republican colleagues, who say he has gotten caught up in “Squad”-style politics.

It’s a reaction, though, that has made him so identified with the opposition to Israel that, within the space of three minutes last week on Capitol Hill, Bowman was first pressed by a Fox News reporter to call people who broke into university buildings “domestic terrorists” (“Do better,” he scolded), and then praised by a young protester with a keffiyeh wrapped around her shoulders as one of the few members who gives her hope.

Bowman said he knows people have called him anti-Israel because of moments like these, but, “what they don’t understand is us being critical of an ally, makes our allies stronger and safer in the long term.”

“If we are not critical in a healthy way, it leads to the cycle of violence that we’re in right now,” he added, telling CNN, “It’s not criticism for criticism’s sake, it’s about how do we govern from the perspective of human rights and diplomacy and justice and … a free Palestine?”

“We’ve been talking about a two-state solution for how long, man, where’s the Palestinian state?” Bowman asked. “Let’s do the work.”

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In a section of the article on "Arguing about AIPAC’s influence," there's mention of J Street pulling their endorsement of Bowman, as well as how other groups are getting involved. "The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) has endorsed Latimer and is expecting to spend to boost him. A local group, Westchester Unites: Jewish Voters in Action, says it is spending six figures directly reaching out to thousands of Jewish voters and will amplify that with direct mail, digital ads, field organizers and grassroots events. The National Black Empowerment Action Fund is pledging six figures to mobilize Black voters against Bowman. AIPAC and DMFI are expected to be by far the biggest spenders."

A DMFI poll from last month showed Latimer leading Bowman by 52-35 percent. 

Throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, AIPAC was posting over social media about their success rate in this primary cycle, specifically when it comes to "pro-Israel Democrats!" A post from Wednesday morning also called to mind how Bowman claimed last November that it was "propaganda" and "a lie" to say that Hamas terrorists raped women when they perpetrated their terrorist attack on October 7 against Israel. Testimony and reports have confirmed that such horrific rapes did occur.

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