Reply to Dr. Jamaal Bowman’s Response to My Open Letter

In carefully reading over Dr. Jamaal Bowman’s response to my open letter, I am more concerned than ever, as is spelled out in my reply to him, below.

Dear Dr. Bowman,

I hope this response to your letter finds you and your family well.

I am especially grateful for the respectfulness of your reply, a tone that I, too, tried to convey in my open letter to you.

While I share your commitment to racial harmony and justice for all, Israel – one of America’s greatest allies and the only democracy in the Middle East – is a particular point of concern for the Jewish community.

This passion embraces consensus issues on which the overwhelming majority of our community across the spectrum from right to left are in agreement.

These consensus issues deal with questions I raised in my open letter, that you in your response failed to address.


How would you have voted on the bill in Congress titled, “Opposing Efforts to Delegitimize the State of Israel and the Local Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement Targeting Israel?” 398 congresspersons voted yea, 17 voted nay.

Would you have been the 18th nay or would you have been amongst the 398 yeas? Are you committed to never supporting BDS, should you be elected?

Moreover, you did not respond to my question whether you support the Palestinian Authority’s policy of funding (for life) families of murderous terrorists – a policy which incentivizes others to commit such heinous acts. Painfully, you also did not indicate whether you support the Taylor Force Act, which calls for America to decrease aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops financially supporting terrorists and their families.

What is your position on the Palestinian Authority’s “pay to slay” policy? Do you support the Taylor Force Act?

While you have acknowledged Israel’s right to live peacefully with security and free from terrorism, you have not condemned the Palestinian Authority’s acts of terror which wreak havoc on the welfare of the Israeli people.

Will you, on the record, directly condemn the Palestinian Authority’s support of terror which has taken the lives of thousands of Israelis, countless American citizens, including Ari Fuld – son of Rabbi Yonah Fuld, former principal of the SAR Academy – a constituent of the 16th district?

Will you speak out as well against the Palestinian Authority’s abuse of their own people – what Human Rights Watch described as “arbitrary arrests,” and “systematic torture” by the PA (and Hamas) against innocent Palestinians?

You write passionately about Palestinians suffering “crushing poverty and deprivation in the Gaza Strip.”

Why have you implied that Israel, and only Israel, is at fault without protesting that Hamas, which controls the Strip, has diverted significant portions of international aid earmarked for humanitarian purposes to build terror tunnels and acquire Qassam rockets – which Hamas has indiscriminately launched by the thousands targeting Israeli civilians?

Finally, I am concerned that you have enthusiastically accepted the endorsement of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who, along with Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have been unwavering in their hostility toward Israel – a prejudiced stance which is wrong for the United States.

Having received a strong endorsement from AOC, how beholden are you to her and her allies?

The election is just days away. There is still time for you to reply with specificity.


Rabbi Avi Weiss

About the Author
Avi Weiss is the founding rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Bronx, N.Y., and founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Yeshivat Maharat rabbinical schools. He is a co-founder of the International Rabbinic Fellowship and longtime Jewish activist for Israel and human rights.