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US group seeks explanation for Congressman Bowman's trip to Israel

Congressman Jamaal Bowman in New York, 14 June 2021 [Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]
Congressman Jamaal Bowman in New York, 14 June 2021 [Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has issued a statement of support for Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign following concerns raised by some of its members over Congressman Jamaal Bowman's visit to Israel earlier this month. The Democrat lawmaker, who is a member of DSA, visited Israel and the occupied West Bank as part of a trip organised by the lobby group J Street.

Travelling with a small group of other Democrats in Congress, Bowman met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The same day, he met with Palestinian children in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Bowman tweeted about his visit where he criticised Israel's occupation of Palestine. "Had the honor of meeting with children today in the occupied West Bank city Hebron" said the representative from New York. "There are streets they cannot walk and places they cannot go, simply because they are Palestinian. When I asked about their dreams, their answer was simple: freedom. Bowman continued. "The occupation must end."

DSA said that it had received letters from several members about Bowman's trip. Responding to concerns raised within the letters DSA said that it "unapologetically stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their ongoing struggle for liberation."

The prominent socialist group went on to say that its platform "proudly" calls for "continued support for and involvement with the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and efforts to eliminate U.S. military aid to Israel, while resisting the 'normalization' of relationships between the Israeli government and other governments."

The statement stressed that raising the concerns of its members over Bowman's trip to Israel has become DSA's "highest priority". DSA has pledged to work with BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group and the congressman's local chapters to address this directly with Bowman. "We will be meeting with him in the next few days. We will update the members as soon as possible following that meeting."

Bowman was endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America in 2020, when he defeated longtime Representative Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary.

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