August 15, 2022

Rep. Jamaal Bowman will face a primary challenge from Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi, who says the Democratic congressman’s virulently anti-Israel positions would be a major issue in the race.

“I think the views he has taken … it’s a problem,” said Gashi, a 43-year-old attorney from Yorktown. “And it’s a problem for American national security.”

He pointed to Bowman’s decision to withdraw his support for legislation promoting the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalize relations with a number of their Arab neighbors.

Bowman had originally been a co-sponsor of the Israel Relations Normalization Act — but dropped his support after redistricting removed heavily Jewish Riverdale from his congressional district.

“The deals that this bill supports and seeks to pursue, have included deals at odds with human rights and safety for everyday people in the region,” Bowman said in a letter to constituents explaining his decision.

Challenger Vedat Gashi takes issue with Bowman’s anti-Israel position.
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An open letter denouncing Bowman’s flip-flop has been signed by dozens of local rabbis.

Bowman will also face other primary opponents including, Michael Gerald, a deputy commissioner at the Westchester County Department of Correction and pastor at Shiloh Church in Tuckahoe and Manuel Casanova, a New Rochelle businessman.

Before the redistricting, Bowman had been noted as the rare “Squad” member who made overtures to Israel. He was lauded by mainstream Dems for meetings with the Israeli consulate in New York and a trip to Israel where he posed for a photo with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Before the redistricting, Bowman had been noted as the rare "Squad" member who made overtures to Israel.
Before the redistricting, Bowman had been noted as the rare “Squad” member who made overtures to Israel.
Jemal Countess

Before the about-face, the Democratic Socialists of America — which endorses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign against Israel — sharply rebuked Bowman and he faced calls to be expelled from the party.

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Gashi — who called himself a “Biden Democrat” — said he plans to highlight Bowman votes that were out of step with the district’s constituents, including his vote against President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill and a “present” vote on funding the D.C. capitol police.

Gashi added that he found Bowman’s embrace of the Democratic Socialists of America “offensive.”

Gashi calls himself a "Biden Democrat."
Gashi calls himself a “Biden Democrat.”
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“My family fled Kosovo, which was a socialist country, so we are not very fond of it,” he said. He called out the group for blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine on American “imperialist expansion.”

Bowman, who rose to national prominence after ousting longtime congressman Eliot Engel, will be tricky to unseat, and currently has more than $300,000 cash on hand to ward off Gashi, FEC filings show.

But the Yorktown pol said he was undaunted and has been meeting local officials and has retained the high-octane MirRam Group to help manage his campaign.