Carol Green Ungar

Another Take on the Jamaal Bowman Defeat

For the past few days, the Jewish world has been celebrating antisemitic Congressman Jamaal Bowman’s primary election defeat by the  AIPAC-sponsored pro-Israel candidate Tom Latimer.

AIPAC recruited Latimer, a Westchester County politician without a foreign affairs track, and backed him up with mega bucks. According to mainstream media reports, AIPAC may have poured as much as 24 million dollars into Latimer’s war chest, making this the costliest primary campaign in US history and attracting nationwide attention to what should have been an obscure local race.

Granted, Bowman did do some awful things. Shortly after October 7, he called for a ceasefire–while the blood of massacre victims was still hot. Later on he called Israel’s war tactics genocide, and he denied the rapes.

While Bowman’s margin of defeat was in the double digits, the victory was far from sweet.  Mainstream media outlets told millions of  Americans that AIPAC bought the election. Echoes of Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Perhaps, but was this the only way to defang Bowman?

Maybe not.

While Jamaal Bowman is a crude and not an exceptionally bright politician, he’s not your usual Haman. He started as an African American Mr. Smith, as in the classic Jimmy Stewart film about an ordinary fellow making good on Capital Hill. A former middle school principal, he entered Congress to help his former students. What could be more heartwarming? Then, in 2021, Bowman, then a congressional rookie, took a fateful trip to Israel sponsored by the Jewish progressive NGO J-Street.

In true J-Street fashion, he received a crash course on the so-called occupation’s ugly side. Did he meet  Israeli terror victims?  Israeli Arabs who support the Jewish State? –probably not.  By the time he got home, Bowman had learned to conflate the situation of West Bank Arabs with  that of American blacks in the Jim Crow South. No wonder he came to hate Israel.

Where was AIPAC back then? With all their money, couldn’t AIPAC have taken Congressman Bowman along on a pro-Israel junket when he was still teachable? It seems not. Instead, AIPAC chose the more drastic and far-costlier step of unseating him after he was already in office, spending 25 million dollars of Jewish community money that could have gone to something else, such as identity-strengthening Jewish education.

But didn’t the community need to fight Bowman?

Maybe not.

Classical Judaism teaches that our job is to attend to our own religious obligations–if that is in check, then G-d will protect us from our enemies.

Look at  Jacob, the Patriarch’s response to Simon and Levi’s following their revenge for the rape of their sister; instead of praising his sons, Jacob says. “You have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the land’s inhabitants, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few, so if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed.” (Gen. 34:30). As a minority, Jacob realizes alienating his neighbors is unwise. As for Dena’s rape  Jacob trusts G-d to impose justice.

AIPAC could have saved millions by applying Jacob’s lesson to the Westchester primary. Given his track record, Bowman was on track to engineer his own defeat–at no cost to the Jews

.Just look at him, a weirdo, an outlier in his own party, one of the few Democrats to vote against President Biden’s infrastructure law, a crude buffoon who curses in public–one wonders who he got hired to teach school. His impulse control is so poor that when he feared he’d been locked into a congressional office building, he pulled the fire alarm–he got charged with a misdemeanor.

Yet, instead of letting go and letting G-d, the AIPAC control freaks swooped down on Westchester and the Bronx, fighting with disproportionate strength,  unwittingly transforming Goliath/ Bowman into a David.

One cannot help but wonder if the real victor in this election was Jamaal Bowman.

About the Author
Carol Ungar is a prize-winning author who writes from the Judean Hills.
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