U.S. Rep. Bowman disputes fellow Dem Torres over Israel-Palestine conflict

New York lawmakers Jamaal Bowman and Ritchie Torres, both Democrats, are on opposite sides of the dispute.

The violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories is highlighting increasing division within the Democratic Party. 

President Joe Biden is supporting Israel in the conflict, which is costing hundreds of Palestinian lives. After a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he notes that the Israeli state has the right to self-defense. But progressives within the party have criticized the White House for ignoring human rights violations. 

Democratic New York congressmen Jamaal Bowman (left) and Ritchie Torres (right) are clearly on opposite sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict. (Photos by Getty Images for Supermajority and Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“Do Palestinians have a right to survive?” asked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday. She also tweeted this weekend as the violence persisted: “If the Biden admin can’t stand up to an ally, who can it stand up to? How can they credibly claim to stand for human rights?”

Fellow New York lawmakers Jamaal Bowman and Ritchie Torres also took the debate to social media. 

Torres wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Post this weekend titled, “Here’s why I’m supporting Israel — despite the Twitter mob.” 

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“I am here to affirm that, as a member of Congress — one who intends to be here for a long time — I have an unwavering commitment to both the sovereignty and security of Israel as a Jewish state,” he wrote. “With sovereignty and security comes the inherent right of self-defense, a right that every state, including our own, takes for granted. Why should Israel be an exception to the rule? Why should Israel be held to a deadly double standard in a moment of terror?” 

His essay, so far, has not been well-received. 

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Rep. Bowman had his say about it on Twitter.

“My brother Ritchie, this is not about a Twitter mob,” Bowman tweeted. “This is about justice, humanity, and equality. This is about Palestinians deserving peace, land, and self-determination, like everyone else.”

He continued in a thread, writing: “This is about Palestinians having their land and homes taken from them and our ignorance of Palestinian pain. That is the truth, my brother. The Palestinians are an occupied people. They are an oppressed people. Innocent people and children are suffering as America supports the occupation and denies Palestinians freedom.” 

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“Let us build a world,” he concluded, “where not another person dies senselessly and where we recognize and respect the humanity of all.” 

Both Torres and Bowman are freshman congressmen elected from districts that serve part of the Bronx and other parts of New York City. 

Torres has not responded to Bowman’s tweets, but the non-profit organization Jewish Voice for Peace Action did, replying, “Thank you from the depths of our hearts, @JamaalBowmanNY. We need every member of the NY delegation to speak truth like this. It will take all of us to reach justice for ALL people.” 

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