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Brooklyn and Manhattan sending BDS to Congress?

The high polling numbers for this Democratic primary candidate in America's most Jewish district signals a deep crisis for pro-Israel voters
Yuh-Line Niou in a picture she shared on twitter as she came to taste challah at the home of local jewish community members (source: twitter screenshot)
Yuh-Line Niou in a picture she shared on twitter having challah at the home of local Jewish community members

Yuh-Line Niou will be the first member of Congress to run while openly declaring her support for the BDS movement. Even Ilhan Omar, when first running, denied supporting the BDS movement, fearing consequences at the ballot. What Jew-free areas is Yuh-Line Niou running to represent that leave her so unconcerned? Boro Park, Flatbush, the Lower East Side, and the Upper West Side. How, you ask, is it possible for someone to run for Congress in an area with a Jewish population exceeding 30% while supporting BDS? How will a district last won by fewer than 35,000 votes populated by hundreds of thousands of Jews send Congress its first BDS-supporting member? Ask any pro-Israel Democrat, and they will have an easy time explaining it. 

In recent years, a concerted effort to portray Democrats as hostile to Israel, Squad members as the face of the democratic party, and the democratic party as hostile to religion altogether, has had the remarkable success of driving many traditional Jewish voters out of the democratic party. Jews living in New York, California, and other bright blue areas have been politically crippled by dropping their democratic party registration and rendered helpless at the ballot box as they were driven out of democratic party politics in areas in which almost all winners are decided in the primaries. 

In some districts, portraying the democratic party as hostile to Jews and to Israel became a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the case of Riverdale in the Bronx, pro-Israel congressman and member of Congress’s Foreign Relations Committee Eliot Engel was ousted in the primaries by Jamaal Bowman, who soon joined the Squad. In Staten Island, Max Rose, a Jewish pro-Israel democrat, was defeated in a heavily Jewish area by republican Nicole Malliotakis, taking out another strong pro-Israel voice from the democratic party. 

Now, this madness reaches its next most logical conclusion. Yuh-Line Niou, who openly supports BDS before the primaries have begun, is in reaching distance to winning New York’s 10th congressional district. While the elections have not taken place yet, and Niou is neck and neck with Carlina Rivera, who is far less hostile to Israel, the fact that the polling is so close highlights a deep crisis for America’s pro-Israel voters. 

If indeed Niou goes on to win the race and represent America’s most Jewish district, it will be an astonishing political statement. America’s most Jewish district electing an openly pro-BDS candidate. The election may send a signal and shockwaves throughout America’s political system, greenlighting such candidacies across America. It will give the highly unaccomplished BDS movement something to boast about and will send a signal to other candidates running for office. 

Once again, pro-Israel democrats will be gaslit and told how anti-Israel the democratic party is by the very same people who paved the way for Niou, Jamaal Bowman, and more. Or perhaps, this event can start reminding pro-Israel voters that change takes place at the primary ballot box, not on Facebook, talking to friends in shul, or on your family WhatsApp group. Jews who, for the most part, live in bright blue districts must make sure our voices are heard, and votes are cast in primary elections, or else we end up being the ones to send the first openly open BDS candidate to represent our districts. 

About the Author
The writer is an eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network
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