Los Angeles DSA Censures Lawmaker Over Pro-Israel Group's Endorsement

Nithya Raman (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Marie Claire)
February 5, 2024

The Democratic Socialists of America's Los Angeles chapter censured one of its members over the weekend because a pro-Israel Democratic group endorsed her reelection bid for L.A. City Council.

The DSA said in a letter sent Saturday to L.A. councilwoman Nithya Raman (D.) that she undermined the group's "commitment to overcoming imperialist capitalism and the exploitation of working people across the world" by soliciting and receiving support from Democrats for Israel-Los Angeles, an organization that describes itself as "fighting antisemitism in our party and in society at-large."

"This most recent action continues a pattern in which the Councilmember has avoided embracing and organizing alongside the movement, while accepting support from its enemies," the DSA letter said. Raman in 2020 became the group's first member to win an L.A. City Council seat.

This move by the DSA's L.A. branch, which now counts three L.A. city council members, two L.A. school district trustees, and the city controller among its ranks, comes as the national DSA finds itself in a financial hole after organizing against Israel. The group is grappling with a $2 million budget shortfall in the wake of its "All Out for Palestine" rallies, where protesters have waved swastika images and cheered terrorist "freedom fighters."

Los Angeles's DSA has been similarly focused on anti-Israel organizing. This week alone, the group has scheduled its "Palestine Solidarity Working Group" meeting, a "Palestine reading group session," and a protest for a ceasefire.

The chapter won't yet pull its endorsement of Raman. To restore her good standing in the group, leaders are urging her to help organize and push an L.A. City Council resolution for a "permanent ceasefire" and to reject the Democrats for Israel's endorsement.

The DSA's L.A. chapter, Raman, and the Democrats for Israel-Los Angeles did not respond to requests for comment.

Raman won her city council seat in 2020, as part of a local progressive wave that also elected anti-incarceration prosecutor George Gascón as L.A. district attorney. She faces a competitive race this year after her district was redrawn to include more moderate areas, and her leading opponent—a deputy city attorney—has attacked her over her DSA ties. Still, her progressive alliances have helped her raise cash from Hollywood stars such as Scarlett Johansson and Tina Fey, and she remains the best-funded candidate.