New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres condemned the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as “anti-Semitic at its core” during a Democratic Majority for Israel webinar on Aug. 18.
Torres, a self-described “pro-Israel progressive” who currently is running for Congress, was asked during the webinar if he felt “outnumbered” as a pro-Israel Democrat in the Democratic caucus. Torres responded that although he thinks that “there is a silent majority for Israel” in the Democratic caucus, he feels “drowned out” from extremist voices in the caucus that are amplified on social media.
“In New York City, we’ve see the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America, which is explicitly pro-BDS,” Torres said. “The Democratic socialist left endorsed in about 11 races [in New York and Kentucky] and won every single one except mine, so it’s proven to be effective at winning elections, and I worry about the normalization of anti-Semitism within progressive politics.
“I consider BDS, the attempt to delegitimize Israel, to be anti-Semitic at its core and any movement that embraces anti-Semitism is destined to rot from within.”
He added that it’s personal for him as someone who is openly gay, as to him, being part of the LGBTQ+ movement means being authentic and honest.
“If the message to those who are both progressive and pro-Israel — especially people who are of Jewish descent — that in order for you to be part of the progressive community you have to renounce your identity and your history and your ties to your own homeland and you have to be in the closet, that to me is profoundly evil,” Torres said. “That’s a perversion of progressivism, and that’s something that pro-Israel progressives have to fight against it, and so it’s incumbent upon us to create space within the progressive movement for pro-Israel voices.”
StandWithUs tweeted out a clip of Torres’ comments, calling them “powerful.”
According to Jewish Insider, Torres, 32, first was elected to the New York City Council in 2013. If he wins his congressional race in November, he and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) would among the youngest members of Congress.