Jewish Democratic group backs George Latimer over Rep. Jamaal Bowman

NEW YORK — A prominent national Jewish Democratic group Thursday endorsed Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s primary challenge to Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a key critic of Israel and the war in Gaza.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America cites Latimer’s “decades of support for the Jewish community and allyship” on a variety of liberal causes as well as support for Israel in backing him for the Democratic nomination in Bowman’s NY-16 district.

“George Latimer resolutely stands behind our community when challenging moments arise, including the current one,” said Susie Stern, the group’s chair.

The group avoided mentioning Bowman, who has been harsh critic of Israel and has called for an end to the Gaza war and negotiations for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is an endorsement of George Latimer,” said Sam Crystal, the group’s communications director.

The only other candidate the group is endorsing in a primary with a Democratic incumbent is Wesley Bell, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Cori Bush, another progressive critic of Israel, in a St. Louis district.

The JDCA says it targets its advocacy and campaign contributions on races where it can help leverage the unity of Jewish communities, which tend to vote for Democrats by about a 2-1 margin.

The group also endorsed ex-Rep. Mondaire Jones, a Democrat who is running against Republican Rep. Mike Lawler in another Westchester-based district and Josh Riley, who seeks to unseat Rep, Marc Molinaro in the Catskills.

Bowman, a two-term incumbent and former Bronx middle school principal, and Latimer are locked in a tight race in the district encompassing the southern half of Westchester. The district includes an estimated 13% Jewish population.

Latimer’s biggest single source of campaign contributions is the right-wing American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which backs the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He journeyed to the Jewish state last November on a solidarity trip just days before announcing his challenge to Bowman.

Bowman last week scooped the endorsement of IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish group that opposes the war in Gaza and the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land.

A recent poll of Democratic voters in the district showed that a large majority of them back a ceasefire in the war that started when Hamas launched a bloody terror attack on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,000 civilians.

Israel has refused widespread calls for a ceasefire and has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in the impoverished Gaza Strip, which is gripped by famine and a widespread health crisis.

The primary is set for June 25.