Jamaal Bowman and Rashida Tlaib Lead ‘Free Palestine’ Chant at Joint Fundraising Event

Bowman, facing fundraising woes in difficult primary, turned to Tlaib to help raise cash

Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (R) during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol December 14, 2021 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
March 4, 2024

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) held his first joint fundraising event with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) on Saturday, with the lawmakers filming themselves leading a "free Palestine" chant at a New York restaurant that is not in Bowman's district.

Bowman and Tlaib gathered with supporters at the Sunshine Restaurant on Long Island for a "Muslims for Reps. Jamaal Bowman & Rashida Tlaib Fundraiser," according to an online invitation. There, Bowman and a smiling Tlaib led the crowd in a "free, free Palestine" chant, which Bowman filmed and posted to his Instagram under the caption, "The movement for justice is growing!"

The fundraiser comes roughly two weeks after Bowman and Tlaib formed a fundraising committee, which allows donors to give one contribution that is then split between the two campaigns. Bowman hopes this arrangement will allow him to close the fundraising gap with his primary opponent, Westchester County executive George Latimer, who raised nearly $1.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared with Bowman's roughly $725,000.

Bowman's decision to fundraise with Tlaib, however, could also create political controversy as the incumbent faces intense criticism from his district's substantial Jewish population

In the months following Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel, Bowman accused Israel of "mass murder," "genocide," and "ethnic cleansing" and argued that supporting an Israeli ceasefire is "what it actually means to be Jewish." He also praised an anti-Israel author, Norman Finkelstein, who celebrated the attack as a "heroic resistance" that "warm[ed] every fiber" of his soul. Bowman said he was "starstruck" by Finkelstein's presence at a January panel discussion titled, "Palestine Oct. 7th and After."  

Jewish leaders in Bowman's district have subsequently rallied behind Latimer, a pro-Israel Democrat. Tlaib, by contrast, is known as one of Israel's leading opponents in Congress. 

The House censured her in November for repeating the slogan, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," which calls for the Jewish state's eradication. Days after that vote, Tlaib appeared at an event organized by American Muslims for Palestine—the group's leader has referred to "despicable Jews" and hailed Hamas terrorists as "martyrs." Last month, meanwhile, Tlaib was the only voting member of the House who did not support a resolution that condemned "rape and sexual violence committed by Hamas" on Oct. 7.

Bowman did not respond to a request for comment. 

In addition to his lagging fundraising numbers, Bowman has faced criticism from Latimer for raising most of his campaign cash from out-of-district donors. Saturday's fundraiser is unlikely to help alleviate that criticism—the Sunshine Restaurant is located in Hicksville, N.Y., which is approximately 45 miles outside of Bowman's north Bronx district.