New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat, is calling for a “clear distinction” to be made between Israel’s citizens and the country’s government as there has been a rising number of cases of antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world amid the war between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists.
Bowman explained that people can hold the Israeli government accountable while also standing with the Jewish people against hate and antisemitism.
“The Israeli government is not representative of the Jewish people. Those are two different things,” the congressman said in a video posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “And so when I criticize the Israeli government, I’m not criticizing Jewish people. When I’m criticizing the Myanmar government, I’m not criticizing Buddhists. When I’m criticizing Saudi Arabia, I’m not criticizing Muslims. When I criticize the U.S., I’m criticizing the U.S. government.”
“Because our governments have to do better for its people as opposed to using our people and our trauma and our grief and our suffering for their own power,” he continued.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against the Jewish State in decades on Oct. 7, leading to retaliatory action from Israeli forces. Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered.
Bowman is among several progressive Democrats who have been critical of the Israeli government since its war against Hamas began. A proposal to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., over comments critical of Israel failed to pass last week.
The New York congressman co-sponsored a resolution last month with more than a dozen other progressive House members calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Bowman was also one of the more than 20 House members, which included one Republican, who voted against a separate resolution calling on administrators at U.S. universities to condemn antisemitism on their campuses and to ensure that Jewish faculty and students can exercise free speech without intimidation.
In his video on Saturday, Bowman also urged the Biden administration to ensure that Israel is following international law in its war against Hamas.
“I think when we’re having the conversation about human rights and international law, we have to have honest conversations, and we have to hold even our allies accountable when they are violating international law,” Bowman said. “I think the U.S. hasn’t done a good enough job of that.”
The Biden administration has strongly supported Israel in its war against Hamas, including backing its right to defend itself and pledging billions in aid. Last week, the administration called for a “humanitarian pause” in the war to assist civilians in Gaza.
“Yes, we want [Israel] to be our allies. Absolutely. They have a right to defend themselves and to self-determination,” Bowman said. “The Palestinians have that same right.”