Rep. Bowman: A ‘Free Palestine’ Would Make Hamas ‘Cease to Need to Exist’

By Matis Glenn

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., listens to fellow speakers before President Joe Biden speaks on the debt limit during an event at SUNY Westchester Community College, Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in Valhalla, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who previously dismissed horrors committed by Hamas terrorists as “lies” and “propaganda,” said in an interview that “We need a free Palestine so Hamas then ceases to need to exist.”

Bowman’s remarks were made during an interview with CNN last Wednesday, when the left-wing New York Democrat was questioned on Israel and its war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

The congressman, who was ousted from the Democratic Socialists of America two years ago over not being anti-Israel enough, but last week regained their support, also accused Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his cabinet of wanting to “wipe out the Palestinians.”

“They want them to either leave or they will kill them,” Bowman said. The DSA severed ties with Bowman over a trip to Israel and his then-support of funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Bowman has more recently called for an end to all U.S. funding of Israel, in line with the DSA’s platform.

Israel has succeeded in maintaining a historically low civilian-to-combatant death ratio when compared with modern urban warfare, even when using Hamas’ death counts, which the U.N. rejected recently, when it halved its figure of women and children killed in the war.

Though he never apologized for denying aspects of the Oct. 7 massacre, Bowman eventually accepted their veracity, after a November U.N. report was released.

The implication that Hamas, which calls for the genocide of all Jews worldwide in its charter and is recognized as a terror group in the U.S. currently “needs” to exist would mark a first for even the most anti-Israel voices in Congress, with some on the left denouncing both Hamas and Israel, or stating that the Oct. 7 massacre needs to be “contextualized.”

Bowman, who represents District 16, which spans Co-op City in the Bronx to Elmsford in Central Westchester, is facing a primary challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who is endorsed by the pro-Israel AIPAC group. Latimer is ahead in current polls, leading Bowman by an average of 17 points, according to the poll analysis group FiveThirtyEight.

The congressman did not return Hamodia’s request for comment.

Wednesday’s remarks were the latest in a series of anti-Israel statements made by the congressman.

Bowman has also blasted NYPD officers for breaking up and arresting protestors at illegal demonstrations on campus at Columbia University last month, which disrupted classes and contained openly pro-Hamas rhetoric, saying that it was an attack on free speech, calling on Americans to  “stand with our students to demand liberation for Palestinians and everyone in this world.”

At a panel discussion on Israel and Hamas in Westchester, Bowman proudly introduced Norman Finkelstein, an academic who was denied tenure from DePaul University and who praised the Oct. 7 massacre, stating that it “warms every fiber of my soul.” Bowman said he was “starstruck” by the speaker, and that he listens to his podcasts regularly.

At a House hearing on antisemitism in K-12 schools last month, Bowman asked district leaders, including New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks, if antisemitism can be fought alongside other forms of hate, and if anti-black racism exists. All of the district heads responded in the affirmative to both questions. Bowman then launched into a monologue about anti-black racism.

“They’re [Republican representatives] talking about teachers teaching hate, I work in congress, when you go in the rotunda, and you look at American history, you see colonists coming in and taking over America from the native Americans. There is no reference to the black people who built this country in our rotunda, but we’re scolding you about teaching hate.”

Despite complaining in the hearing about statues of Confederate figures in Washington D.C., using them as examples to show that he works “in an institution that teaches hate,” Bowman defended the inclusion and honoring of outspoken antisemites and violent criminals in displays meant to convey black history.

During an interview last year, Bowman defended the featuring of Louis Farrakhan, who has called Jews “termites,” in a Black Lives Matter mural in Westchester. “Regarding the minister, you know, he said many things that I fully disagree with, you know, period,” according to a New York Daily News report about the mural in Westchester County. “But he is a part of black history, you know? That’s a fact. And if the Greenburgh community​ — particularly that section of Greenburgh​, you know — supports the mural, then the mural​ should be there as is.​”

Going further than merely acknowledging figures as part of history, while principal at a Bronx middle school, a “Wall of Honor” was presented to the children, featuring figures from black and Latino history – which included a murderer and another violent criminal associated with extremist black nationalist organizations, plus an open antisemite, the Huffington Post reported. Joanne Chesimard, who called herself “Assata Shakur,” has been on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for over five decades, after being convicted of murdering a New Jersey State Trooper, Werner Foerster, at a traffic stop in 1973. After her conviction, she managed to escape and fled to Cuba. At the time of the killing, Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army, was wanted for other violent crimes.

Bowman doubled down on honoring Chesimard in February.

“I will refuse to denounce,” Bowman said, according to the NY Post. “I’m answering the question the way I want to answer it. We, our kids in my school learned the history of a people off the walls — and many other people and so, that’s what we did. Period.”

In response, a woman in attendance asked Bowman “What did [Chesimard] accomplish that would put her in the same realm as Thomas Jefferson?”

Bowman responded that she was a “member of the Black Panther Party.

“You can have critiques of this person but there are critiques of many American heroes that we have,” the congressman said.

Jeral Wayne Williams, who called himself “Mutulu Shakur,” was another member of the BLA who assisted Chesimard in escaping, and had himself committed several violent crimes; he was also featured on the wall in Bowman’s school, as was former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), an openly antisemitic conspiracy theorist who believed 9/11 was an “inside job” carried out by the U.S. government.

Bowman himself expressed belief in the widely panned 9/11 theory in blog posts as recent as 2014, but when the posts resurfaced this year, he said he no longer accepts the theories, and regrets having published them.

Last year,  Bowman pleaded guilty to one count of falsely pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon Office Building in Washington D.C., as a government shutdown loomed; he denied that his intention was to disrupt the government’s proceedings, and paid a $1,000 fine.

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