When my substitute mailman could not differentiate between a slush pile in front of my door and the mail slot, I tried to contact my federal representative, Jamaal Bowman, by leaving a message per instruction at his Bronx office. I have not heard back.
The dimension of antisemitism is a problem on American campuses, obvious in the book, “Anti-Zionism on Campus” by Andrew Pessin and Doron S. Ben-Atar. U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu wrote a strong letter to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in early February asking why, in the face of enormous antisemitism on many campuses, the civil rights office has not been particularly timely nor aggressive in following up cases of discrimination against Jewish students.
He also asked why the office has not been proactive in reaching out to Jewish students to advise them of their civil right, and about the office’s deferral of necessary changes to its rules mandated by two executive orders intended to combat antisemitism and advance racial equity and support for underserved communities.
In addition to Rep. Lieu, 38 other congressional members signed on. Jamaal Bowman did not. I then sent him an email asking him to be a signatory to a letter supporting Jewish students on campus.
While he did send a lengthy letter, it was totally non-responsive. Instead, he wrote why a bill that he co-sponsored — The Israel Relations Normalization Act — is something he will no longer vote for should it come to the floor of the U.S. House.
It is hard to understand such a non-response. I wrote to him about protecting Jewish students on American campuses, and he responds that he is not voting on a bill supporting Israel. We are now supposed to continue believing that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.
The popular belief is that Israel is a colonial enterprise. This is so far from the truth as to be ludicrous! As Jane Austen’s manipulative and vicious character Lady Susan says when her machinations are uncovered, “Facts are such horrid things.”
So, a few facts:
• Judaism predates Christianity by more than a thousand years. It predates Islam by an additional 700 years. Both daughter religions expected Jews to join them, and when they did not, they were vilified. In the 1500s, Martin Luther repeated this history.
• The Bible — read widely for thousands of years — places Jews in the land of Israel in historic times. Theirs was the original Diaspora.
There were three expulsions: in 733 B.C.E., by the Assyrians; between 597 and 586 B.C.E., by the Babylonians; and by Rome in 132. This last defeat effectively restricted Jewish population centers in the land of Israel.
• Despite expulsions, however, there have always been Jewish communities in the land of Israel living under a variety of conquerors.
• Events eventually led to an effort to restore the land of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people where they could be secure from the whims of both the authorities and mobs in the lands of their Diaspora.
• As Jews started returning to the land of Israel during the late 1800s — and economic conditions improved — Arabs from surrounding countries also started moving in. The clan names identify their countries of origin.
This should effectively deal with the canard that the Palestinians are indigenous and the Jews are colonialist invaders.
• In 1947, the United Nations devised a Partition plan. The distribution of land between Arabs and Jews was not equitable. The Jewish portion was small and geopolitically unstable.
The Jews accepted — the Arabs did not. Five Arab armies attacked simultaneously from all sides, but Jewish soldiers drove them back.
• Everything that has happened since 1948 is the result of Arab leadership and its intransigence.
So, who — and what — does Jamaal Bowman represent? He says all the right things in news releases. He decried the vandalism of Riverdale synagogues last year. He lauded the Jewish community on Jewish Heritage Month, acknowledging the” partnership of the Jewish community alongside Black Americans for racial and religious justice.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, he wrote, “It was a debilitating and chilling experience (at the Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial) that tells the truth about genocide, dehumanization and antisemitism — and the fear and hate that fuel them. Today and every day, we must surround the Jewish community with support and love.”
Jamaal Bowman represents the congressional district that includes Riverdale’s sizable Jewish population. Despite his warm words, he was barely in office when he went on the attack against Israel supporting H.R. 2590 as if Israel enjoys having to defend itself against attacks supported by the Palestinian Authority.
He also vocally supported the calumny that Israel was not vaccinating Palestinians despite the Palestinian Authority being solely responsible and not making any effort to obtain the vaccine.
His stance seems nothing more than a determination to ingratiate himself with “The Squad” and its progressive allies.
For too long, the intelligentsia has pretended that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. That linguistic distortion was completely unmasked during the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Hamas had been shooting missiles into Israel over a lengthy period of time, and Israel finally retaliated.
In this country Jews were being attacked in response. Anti-Zionism? Really?
I asked Jamaal Bowman to sign on to Ted Lieu’s letter protecting Jewish students on American campuses, and all he can do is wax eloquent about the needs of Palestinians.
We are his constituents. Act in our interests!