To the editor:
(re: “Bowman to Weiss: We have so much to learn from each other,” June 18)
For the first time in decades, support for peace in the Middle East is spreading.
In New York’s 16th Congressional District, voters have a stark choice on many topics, including support for the state of Israel. The United States should continue to stand with Israel and encourage other countries to normalize their relations with the Jewish state.
In his June 18 letter in The Riverdale Press, Jamaal Bowman — one of the candidates for Congress — may have appeared supportive of Israel, but a careful reading suggests otherwise. He wrote that many of his Jewish friends “see Israel as the result of thousands of years of struggle for Jewish rights and security.”
He said he will stand with the Jewish community “to defend that achievement,” of Jewish rights and security.
He wrote “that all people, wherever they live, have the right to feel safe and protected — and I believe Jewish people are no different in deserving that right.”
Why isn’t Mr. Bowman willing to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland explicitly?
Mr. Bowman plays lip service to Israel’s security, but it is often qualified and seemingly filled with reservations. He spent much of his letter discussing his personal experiences, which have nothing to do with Israel. While he “personally” opposed the boycott-divestment-sanction movement, he didn’t commit to opposing it in Congress, and in fact attempted to change the subject to the First Amendment.
I will oppose the BDS movement as the NY-16 representative in Congress.
How can there be a moral equivalence between our democratic allies on the one hand, and terrorists who kill innocent people on the other? When Mr. Bowman could bring himself to affirm the right of Israelis to live in safety and peace, he connected the “violence and terrorism from Hamas and other extremists” with a Palestinian entitlement to “the same human rights, safety from violence and self-determination.”
Why didn’t he condemn the terrorists among the Palestinians? He wrote of “our government’s role in enabling the continued occupation of the Palestinian people.” Why didn’t he note that the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected or squandered opportunities for self-rule?
Wouldn’t Mr. Bowman’s concern for the Palestinian people be stronger in the context of advocacy for all people everywhere? Why isn’t he expressing concern for the Syrian people affected by civil war, the women in Saudi Arabia forced to live under a misogynistic dictatorship, the Uyghur Muslims suffering in China, and the North Korean people living in a country-sized prison?
On his website, Mr. Bowman includes Israel as part of a “far-right authoritarian movement” to which he says we must “stand up.” While categorically rejecting this characterization, I do believe we can have disagreements with Israel, as with any of our allies. However, the Palestinians must cease terror, recognize Israel, and hold free and timely elections.
We can have compassion for the Palestinian people and seek to help them while being steadfast supporters of Israel — this does not need to be an “either/or” issue.
I recognize that people may have differing views about the current leadership of the state of Israel, but that is irrelevant when it comes to Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.
I hope you will consider voting for me because of my commitment to civil discourse, empathy for all people, and unwavering support for Israel.
The author is a candidate for New York’s 16th Congressional District seat.