House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is committing to defending anti-Israel incumbent members, including those who are now facing primary challengers in 2024, Politico reported Thursday.
Members of the “squad,” including Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Cori Bush of Missouri, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, continue to call for a ceasefire while repeating anti-Israel sentiments after Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group, attacked the U.S. ally on Oct. 7. Jeffries will attempt to defend the Progressive Caucus members’ seats in 2024, including those of Omar and Bush, who are facing pro-Israel Democratic primary challengers, as the party seeks to regain a majority in the lower chamber, according to Politico.
“The highly racialized targeting of many of these members, we absolutely need leadership that would defend our members from that,” Ocasio-Cortez told Politico.
Omar has drawn two primary challengers — one from U.S. Air Force veteran Tim Peterson, who has made his bid largely in response to the congresswoman’s rhetoric, and another from former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who said Omar has “frightened the Jewish community.”
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell withdrew his candidacy for Senate to challenge Republican Rep. Josh Hawley, and instead launched a challenge to Bush, citing the congresswoman’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war for his reasoning.
Rep. Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, another “squad” member, has received a primary challenge from Bhavini Patel, who slammed the congresswoman’s rhetoric for “equivocat[ing] Hamas’ murdering, raping, kidnapping of grandparents, children, and so many innocent civilians.”
“I hope that [Jeffries] will speak out as urgently and aggressively as those who are speaking out against us,” Lee told Politico.
During a private meeting last Thursday between Jeffries, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Suzan DelBene and the members spearheading the Progressive Caucus’ political action committee (PAC), lawmakers urged Jeffries to ramp up his efforts in defending the incumbents that have condemned Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza, according to Politico.
The progressive members also asked that Jeffries deter the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from getting involved in the primaries, Politico reported. Many pro-Israel groups are already bolstering its efforts ahead of 2024 following the Hamas terrorist attack, with AIPAC’s super PAC United Democracy Project running a negative advertisement against Lee.
“If we have to spend a lot of money to keep our incumbents in office, then that’s less money that gets spent on frontline districts and districts we can pick up, so it is a real problem,” Jayapal told Politico. “And that’s why it’s really important to be clear to AIPAC that they need to stand down and that we are going to vigorously defend our members.”
The House voted 234-188 to censure Tlaib on Nov. 7 over her remarks criticizing Israel’s response to the Hamas terrorist attack, to which she responded, “A majority of Americans support a ceasefire.”
Jeffries, DelBene, AIPAC, Bush, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Jayapal, Tlaib and Lee did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
Mary Lou Masters on November 16, 2023