We won’t get the official results for awhile, but progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman currently holds a double-digit lead over 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel in New York’s 16th district. Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is one of the most hawkish Democrats in the House. He supported the Iraq War, opposed the Iran Nuclear Deal, and has unequivocally supported Israel for decades. His campaign was fueled by donations from pro-Israel lobbying groups and a GOP super PAC.
In contrast, Bowman has called for cuts to Pentagon spending, an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and rejoining the nuclear deal. He also supports conditioning military aid to Israel, a position that Engel has dismissed as “one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.” Here’s what Bowman told Jacobin last fall:
As Netanyahu calls for expanding settlements and annexing the West Bank, we should seriously consider placing conditions on the billions of dollars of military aid our government provides him in order to make sure that the rights and dignity of both the Israeli and Palestinian people are respected. I just don’t understand why American taxpayers are subsidizing the detention of Palestinian children while Democrats are criticizing child detention at the Mexican border. The principles of the Leahy Law should be upheld.
It looks like Mondaire Jones will prevail in New York’s 17th district, where longtime congresswoman and staunch pro-Israel supporter Nita Lowey is stepping down at the end of her term. Although progressive on a number of domestic issues, Jones hasn’t shown any inclination that these views extend to Palestine. Here’s Alex Kane writing about his candidacy at The Intercept last year:
He told The Intercept that he did not get in the race to challenge Lowey’s foreign policy stances, has not studied Lowey’s record on Israel, and does not currently support imposing conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel. Asked by The Intercept about whether he believes there’s a human rights crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories, he did not give a straight answer and instead decried humanitarian conditions there. He also said he had no problem with the House condemning the BDS movement, calling the vote an exercise in free speech, much as advocating the boycotts of Israel is.
The loss of Lowey is a huge blow to pro-Israel forces nonetheless, as she’s been one of AIPAC’s favorite Democrats for decades now.
In New York’s 17th district, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made quick work of former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Caruso-Cabrera was previously a Republican and only left her Trump Tower Manhattan apartment to move to the district last year. “When I won in 2018, many dismissed our victory as a ‘fluke.’,” tweeted AOC, “Our win was treated as an aberration, or bc my opponent ‘didn’t try.’ So from the start, tonight’s race was important to me. Tonight we are proving that the people’s movement in NY isn’t an accident. It‘s a mandate.”