Democratic Socialists of America Went 'All Out' For Hamas. Now It's Facing a 'Financial Crisis.'

Demonstrators march in support of "Palestine" on October 8, 2023 in New York City. (Adam Gray/Getty Images)
January 23, 2024

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is on the precipice of a "financial crisis" as members of its leadership committee grapple with the sobering reality that actions have consequences.

DSA leadership thinks the group should be thriving. Its work organizing "All Out For Palestine" protests across the country in the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel—where attendees flaunted images of swastikas and cheered terrorist "freedom fighters"—should have brought in a flood of new members and revenue.

But the opposite happened, and now the DSA is contemplating voluntary layoffs to resolve a $2 million budget shortfall in 2024, three members of the group’s National Political Committee revealed in a blog post last week.

"But how did this decline in revenue, membership, and overall excitement happen in the first place? This should actually be a really favorable time for DSA," the DSA leaders wrote. "We’re living in a moment when revived labor struggles and the fight for a free Palestine are galvanizing so many Americans, particularly young people. Biden’s disastrous policy of fueling Israel’s genocide in Gaza has created the kind of space for an independent alternative from the Democratic Party that has not existed since Bernie [Sanders]."

The DSA’s cash crunch is a remarkable turnaround from the group’s solid financial standing just two years ago. The DSA saw its membership expand from 6,000 to over 90,000 from 2016 through 2020, and it ended 2022 with over $4.7 million in the bank and virtually no debt, according to its latest available financial disclosures. The DSA’s projected income dropped to just $5 million in 2024 while its budget swelled to $7 million, driven by rising payroll costs. The three DSA National Political Committee members are calling for the organization to cut $500,000 in staff-related expenses to avert the looming "financial crisis."

The leaders rejected the notion that the DSA’s overt support of Palestinians is the cause of its financial woes. Rather, they said the DSA’s top directors are to blame for mismanaging dues and failing to seize on the momentum from the attacks on Israel to transition the organization from a progressive nonprofit to a legitimate political movement that could bring about a "rupture with capitalism."

The DSA embraced the Palestinian cause long before the Oct. 7 attacks. The group voted to support the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement at its 2017 convention. By 2021, its BDS Working Group sought to forcibly expel Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.), one of its most prominent members, for voting to fund Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, The Nation reported.

The internal feud over Bowman left several DSA members to admit they were "bleeding activists and financial resources," Amanda Berman, the founder of the liberal pro-Israel activist group Zioness, told the New York Post.

"DSA long ago fell into the trap of becoming so radical in the name of ‘justice’ that they abandoned the mission of the progressive movement," Berman said. "After Hamas’s brutal invasion of Israel on October 7, DSA doubled down on their strategy of going deep and long on anti-Semitism, thinking it might get them out of the hole. Instead, this depraved idea dug them even deeper."

The DSA’s refusal to condemn Hamas following its attack in October was a breaking point for some of its most prominent members. DSA founding member Maurice Isserman quit the organization on Oct. 23 in protest of its leadership’s "politically and morally bankrupt response to the horrific Hamas October 7 anti-Jewish pogrom."

"So why am I quitting DSA?" Isserman wrote in The Nation. "There are many reasons. But in the end, the most important comes down to the Sarah Silverman Rule #1 for Judging One’s Political Associates. An organization that can’t take a stand condemning a right-wing terrorist group that set out to murder as many Jewish civilians, including children and infants, as it can lay its hands on, has forfeited the right to call itself democratic socialist. It has, as Sarah says ‘lost me forever.’"

The DSA did not return a request for comment.