‘Resistance must not be condemned,’ fundraiser host Melina Abdullah’s group said on Oct. 9
As Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) and Cori Bush (D., Mo.) face difficult primary challenges, the progressive lawmakers are teaming up—by holding a swanky joint fundraiser alongside anti-Israel activists who have endorsed Hamas terrorism and defended notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.
Bowman and Bush attended the Saturday fundraiser at the Los Angeles home of Sylvia Aroth and Dante Cacace, with attendees paying as much as $13,200 to attend. The fundraiser’s host committee included a slew of anti-Israel activists who have defended Hamas in the wake of the terror group’s Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state.
Melina Abdullah, for example, serves as executive director of BLM Grassroots, which said that “resistance must not be condemned” and praised the attack as “a desperate act of self-defense.” Another host, Jodie Evans, serves as cofounder of Code Pink, a left-wing group that argued on Oct. 7 that Hamas had “every right to resist” Israel’s “apartheid regime.” Estee Chandler also served as a fundraiser host—Chandler, who leads Jewish Voice for Peace’s Los Angeles chapter, blamed Israel for provoking Hamas’s attack, citing the Jewish state’s “constant ethnic cleansing.”
The fundraiser comes as both Bowman and Bush face serious primary challenges driven in large part by their anti-Israel views. The left-wing lawmakers have emerged as Israel’s top opponents in the wake of Oct. 7, with both accusing the Jewish state of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.” Those remarks prompted condemnation from Jewish leaders in Bowman’s and Bush’s districts.
Twenty-six rabbis in Bowman’s New York City district wrote a letter in October denouncing Bowman’s “anti-Israel policy positions and messaging.” In Bush’s St. Louis district, a coalition of Jewish organizations accused the congresswoman of “fanning the flames of antisemitism.”
“Representative Bush has shown little outrage against the horrendous attacks by an organization whose very charter calls for the killing of all Jewish people,” the coalition said in a November letter.
“To the contrary, in private discussions she has stated repeatedly that she supports the Jewish community, is listening to our fears and concerns, and stands against antisemitism,” the coalition continued. “She then issues public statements that directly contradict what she told us in private.”
That criticism helped drive a pair of pro-Israel Democrats to challenge Bowman and Bush. Westchester County executive George Latimer launched his campaign against Bowman in December and has since criticized the congressman for voting against a resolution that condemned Hamas. St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell, meanwhile, is challenging Bush, a run that has seen him condemn those who accuse Israel of genocide.
“It is offensive to me that you would say that Israel defending itself is genocide,” Bell told a self-described “anti-Zionist” attendee during a November campaign event. “Israel was attacked by a terrorist organization, who in their charter says that the destruction of Israel is their goal. They stated after this attack that they were going to do it again and again.”
Both challengers have outraised their incumbent opponents in recent months. Latimer raised $1.4 million in the last quarter of 2023, while Bowman raised just $724,000. Bell during that period raised $490,000 and holds most of that cash—$409,000—on hand. Bush raised $487,000 in the last quarter of 2023 and holds just $216,000 on hand.
While Bowman and Bush’s Los Angeles fundraiser may help them close that money gap, it is also prompting pushback. In addition to BLM Grassroots’ embrace of Hamas, Abdullah defended Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan after he was banned from Instagram and Facebook. Farrakhan, an unabashed anti-Semite, has called Jews “termites” and praised Adolf Hitler as a “very great man.”
“We should all be outraged by the banning of Minister @LouisFarrakhan from Instagram and Facebook,” Abdullah wrote in 2019. “In a country built on our backs there can be no ‘Black supremacy.'”
For Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “no one should be surprised” by Bowman and Bush’s decision to hobnob with Hamas-sympathizing activists.
“Members of the ‘Squad’ and these organizations are a cover to excuse any and all atrocities inflicted on the people of Israel,” Cooper told the Washington Free Beacon. “They are looking to drive a wedge between the Jewish community and it’s not working because a crime against humanity was committed on Oct. 7.”
Bowman and Bush, neither of whom returned requests for comment, are also under fire for reasons unrelated to Israel. Bowman was forced to apologize last week after the Daily Beast unearthed a poem he published online that suggested the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks were a false-flag operation used by the U.S. government to wage war in the Middle East. One day later, Bush confirmed she is under criminal investigation for misusing federal and campaign funds to pay for private security.