Jamaal Bowman Says AIPAC Only Calls Him Anti-Semitic Because It Can't Use 'the N-Word'

New York Democrat says during town hall that America has a 'caste system' and 'plantation capitalism'

Jamaal Bowman (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
April 23, 2024

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) told constituents Monday that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) only labels him anti-Semitic because the committee isn't allowed to call him "the N-word."

Bowman on Monday attended a virtual town hall alongside Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) and with Our Revolution, a progressive organizing group launched by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Bowman criticized AIPAC for backing his primary challenger, Westchester County executive George Latimer, and asserted that the pro-Israel group is only labeling him anti-Semitic because it can't "get away with" calling him a racial slur.

"That is why AIPAC's coming after us, coming after us with hate, coming after us with bullying, and intimidation, and fear. You should see what they're doing in my district," Bowman said. "Lie after lie after lie about my record. Lie after lie calling me anti-Semitic, calling me anti-Biden, saying I'm not a real Democrat, using all kinds of dog whistles."

Bowman concluded, "They don't like my style, I'm a little too radical, I'm a member of the 'Squad.' They want to call me the N-word, but they know they can't get away with that, so they say everything else."

The congressman also said that the United States functions under "plantation capitalism" and a "caste system" that keeps minorities like him from serving in Congress.

"We have the military industrial complex and warmongerers [sic] aligning themselves with special interests [and] racist, MAGA, election-denying Republicans to get the first black man out of this seat," Bowman said.

Bowman's claims come as the congressman finds himself 17 points behind Latimer, a pro-Israel Democrat, in his primary race. Local rabbis encouraged Latimer to run, citing Bowman's hostility toward the Jewish state. In the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, the two-term congressman has blamed Israel's "blockade of Gaza" for the attacks by Hamas and accused Israel of "mass murder," "genocide," and "ethnic cleansing."

"Rep. Bowman's scurrilous and shameful attacks won't hide his record of aligning with an extremist, anti-Israel fringe. We back candidates based solely on their support for the US-Israel relationship, and we have proudly endorsed dozens of pro-Israel progressives, including nearly half of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus," AIPAC told the Washington Free Beacon.

Bowman added during the town hall that he is taking a "public health approach to public safety" and lamented the system of "racism" and "sexism" in place today.

"We have to invest in dealing with the issue of substance abuse, of mental health, we need to implement workforce development, fully fund education, and you'll have justice reform," Bowman said. "Right now, we have a military industrial complex, a prison industrial complex, and plantation capitalism in addition to our racism, our sexism, and our caste system."

The sole male "Squad" member on Tuesday touted Our Revolution's endorsement, saying he was "honored" to have their support.

"I'm honored to be endorsed by @OurRevolution! Their work has been crucial in building a progressive movement dedicated to showing up for our communities. I'm proud to have their support," Bowman wrote in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

Bowman's broadside against AIPAC came shortly after he posed for a photo with Maher Abdel-qader, a Democratic fundraiser who has spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denial. Abdel-qader has also shared a video that called Jews "Satanic" and is the moderator of an anti-Israel Facebook group whose members have cheered Hamas terrorists.

After Omar's daughter, Isra Hirsi, was suspended from Columbia University for her role in an unsanctioned anti-Israel tent encampment, Bowman rallied to her defense, arguing that Hirsi was punished for her mother's political beliefs rather than for her own rule-breaking. Hirsi's suspension came one day after Omar questioned Columbia president Minouche Shafik's response to anti-Semitism during a congressional hearing held by the Education and Workforce Committee.

"The day after [Omar] questioned Columbia leadership's commitment to free academic expression, the school suspended her daughter? It's clear what is happening here. Our educational institutions should not be in the business of political reprisals," Bowman wrote in a post.

Bowman, who did not return a request for comment, this month questioned the committee's intentions behind its investigations into anti-Semitism, accusing committee chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.) of intimidating dissenting, anti-Israel voices, such as the United Automobile Workers Local 2325 union, which called for a ceasefire and accused Israel of genocide.

"Chair Foxx's targeting of Local 2325's resolution vote is a blatant attempt to silence a union whose members voted overwhelmingly and democratically to take a political position with which she disagrees," Bowman wrote. "Such intimidation tactics go far beyond the legitimate uses of the Committee's oversight power, and instead serve only to scare unions across the country from exercising their right to political expression for fear of unfair persecution."

Bowman and Latimer will face off at the ballot box in June.