Ritchie Torres is expected to win the Democratic primary for Congress in New York’s 15 district. The openly gay, South Bronx councilman is a self-described “pro-Israel progressive” and the first post-election event he attended was the Embassy of Israel’s 5th Annual Pride Event.
The virtual event also featured Israel Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and Lt. Col. Dana Ben-Ezra, the first woman to command an IDF battalion.
Torres is one of three black candidates poised to win a Democratic primary in New York, but unlike the 16th district’s Jamaal Bowman, who ousted one of the most pro-Israel congress members and supports conditioning military aid to the country, Torres is to the right of many Democrats on the question of Palestine. Last year Torres told Jewish Insider, “I consider anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism, and I am not going to give consideration to antisemitic voices, voices that are dedicated to delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state.”
He also told the website that he wouldn’t court the endorsement of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) or any group supporting BDS because, “There is a deep rot of antisemitism at the core of BDS, and I view it as an insidious form of antisemitism. I am concerned about the normalization of BDS within the progressive movement, and I worry deeply that BDS has the potential to poison progressivism.”
Samelys López, a DSA-backed candidate who also ran for the 15th district seat, tweeted out a thread responding to Torres’s appearance at the Pride event. “Ritchie leverages his identity to gain power & do the bidding of military forces. He intentionally and unapologetically weakens the progressive movement fighting for the liberation of occupied Palestine,” reads one of the tweets.
“Ritchie Torres’s win in NY-15 on Tuesday was something of a mixed result for progressives. Torres calls himself a progressive; his record is less resounding. Needless to say, NY lefties are going to keep a close, skeptical eye on him, and this is a very bad start,” tweeted American Prospect staff writer Alex Sammon, “If Torres thinks he’s going to pull into his DC office and start giving the left the middle finger he won’t last long. The current NY left is way too organized for that.”
In his remarks at the Pride event, Torres refers to Israel as an “oasis of democracy” and praises the country for its commitment to LGBTQ rights. “Having been to Israel twice, I can tell you firsthand that I feel at home in Israel as if it were my own country..”