Following our December 19th General Meeting, the members of Boston Democratic Socialists of America voted to pass four resolutions that chart a path toward more consistent solidarity with the Palestinian cause and make some necessary structural and procedural changes to help our chapter get there.
Nationally and locally, the general membership of DSA is the highest authority of our organization. The vote by a majority within our chapter therefore represents Boston DSA: We reject both the National Political Committee (NPC) decision to not censure or expel Rep. Bowman, and the Boston DSA Coordinating Committee (CC) decision to not ask the NPC to censure Rep. Bowman. We believe a formal statement of censure and/or revocation of the 2020 endorsement plus a commitment to not endorse in 2022 should have been the minimal response from the NPC. We have asked the NPC to reconsider these options.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s action in support of the subjugation of the people of Palestine includes voting for H. R. 4373 to send $3.3 billion to Israel, and H. R. 5323 to invest an additional $1 billion in the already fully-funded ‘Iron Dome’ military interceptor system in Israel. Furthermore, Bowman has contributed to normalizing relations with the state of Israel by visiting with the racist war criminal Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel.
DSA operates in the center of global financial extractive capitalism, and one of the primary tasks of socialists is to oppose imperialism and settler colonialism–which requires giving internationalism equal priority to our domestic positions. DSA’s membership has repeatedly affirmed our organization’s political commitment to Palestinian liberation. Many comrades in the DSA rank and file have put tireless time and effort into building trust with grassroots BDS organizations in their local communities. After the massive protests for Palestinian rights last spring–the size and intensity of which took the political class by surprise, if only temporarily–the public conversation around Palestinian liberation is finally starting to shift.
We recognize that DSA’s failure to present a united front in voting against Iron Dome funding slowed this progress. While our membership has organized around these issues, our leadership has fallen short of these principles, and has, in fact, replicated a pattern of the American left providing cover for Democratic politicians who side with the Zionist lobby. Furthermore, DSA and Boston DSA’s ability to advance our platform requires setting a precedent of accountability to BDS and DSA’s platform, especially for our most powerful elected members.
Our membership passed resolutions to ensure this does not happen again. At a national level, we call on the NPC to require that all future nationally endorsed DSA candidates should be vocally pro-BDS and make current and future endorsees aware that voting for material aid to Israel will result in the immediate revocation of endorsements and expulsion from DSA. The National Electoral Committee can support this mission by adding a question to the endorsement questionnaire, asking about it during candidate interviews, and not recommending candidates for endorsement who fail to make clear commitments to BDS.
This is important for DSA candidates running for office at any level: federal, state, or municipal. Many city and state governments have contracts with corporations that do business with Israel, send police to Israel for training, and vote on legislation regarding suppression of BDS. For these reasons, we also passed local resolutions that prohibit our chapter from endorsing any candidates who are out of step with DSA’s democratically determined political platform or who do not commit to supporting BDS. These resolutions make explicit the rules around our rigorous endorsement process, and build upon our chapter’s previous resolutions in support of BDS.
We also demand more transparency and communication from the NPC both in future meetings with politicians and their deliberation process for decisions on discipline for endorsed electeds when they fail to uphold our values. The NPC deliberated about whether to discipline or expel Rep. Bowman without any formal mechanism to include rank-and-file member opinions. NPC should, at minimum, establish prompt timelines for notifying members of politically contentious votes before they are held, solicit feedback from membership on such decisions whenever possible, and promptly release NPC voting records to membership after a vote closes.
However, we recognize that procedural improvements alone are not enough to rectify this situation. The response from national and local leadership harmed our own members–and our relationships with local Palestinian organizers and organizations. Before the NPC deliberations, Boston DSA’s CC failed to endorse any statement weighing in on the situation, and the debate within Boston DSA on how to address the congressman’s actions has revealed a lack of political education in our membership on what BDS is and what it means for us to support it. For that reason, we as a chapter have voted to initiate a series of political education events, discussions, and/or workshops to provide political education on Palestine, BDS, and anti imperialism and to address harm within our chapter.
As members of the largest organization not explicitly focused on BDS to include BDS in our platform, it is our responsibility to push our chapter, and our organization, to reject Zionist racism and to do the internal work necessary to be in solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Though these internal deliberations have been slow and often fraught, we believe that this democratic result sends a clear message to other chapters and to our national leadership: Accountability to BDS and solidarity with the Palestinian people cannot be subordinated to short-term electoral priorities or to our domestic agenda. We will work to follow through on our committments to the Palestinian cause and toward liberation for all.
You can read the full text of our resolutions here: bdsa.us/BDSresolutions.