Austin DSA no longer supporting Greg Casar’s campaign

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Austin, Politics

The Austin Democratic Socialist of America said Sunday they would no longer be supporting Greg Casar’s campaign for Congress in Texas’ 35th district. 

The announcement comes after a letter detailing Casar’s policy positions on Israel was published last week by Jewish Insider.

In the letter to a local rabbi, Casar pledged to be a voice against anti-Semitism in Congress and said he would support continued “federal aid for self defense of Israel.” 

Casar said he was not a supporter of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), a Palestinian-led movement that aims to weaken Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories like the West Bank and Gaza in similar fashion to South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Movement.

“I also believe in the right of the Palestinian people to live in peace, security, and democracy,” Casar wrote. “These are fundamental rights. To arrive at safety and sovereignty for all, I believe the clearest path is a two state solution that will win the peace.”

In a statement by Austin DSA’s leadership committee, the socialist organization said Casar’s support for military aid to Israel and opposition to the BDS movement were “not reconcilable with DSA’s stance in solidarity with Palestine.” 

“As socialists and internationalists, we recognize that Israel is an apartheid state that violates the human rights of Palestinians,” the commitee wrote. “We consistently stand against military aid and interventions around the globe, so we of course oppose providing military aid of any kind to Israel. We also support the overwhelming call from Palestinian civil society for BDS. DSA is a democratic organization that has affirmed this position in resolutions at three national conventions and in DSA’s political platform.”

Austin DSA, the largest DSA chapter in Texas, said its volunteer work was reserved for candidates closely aligned with DSA’s platform and principles, writing, “after discussions with the leadership committee and other members, the Casar campaign has rescinded their request for endorsement.”

Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing, receiving $3.3 billion a year largely in the form of weapon grants. Some progressives in Congress have increasingly scrutinized that relationship with Israel in the wake of a deadly crackdown on Palestinian protests in 2018-19 and an aggressive bombing campaign against Hamas in 2021 that mostly targeted and killed hundreds of civilians in Gaza. 

In September, several progressive House lawmakers moved to delay a bill to fund an additional $1 billion to Israel’s Iron Dome, an air defense system Israel uses to intercept rockets launched at civilians. 

The bill to provide additional funding was eventually approved in a 420-9 vote. Some left-flank members like Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Cori Bush of Missouri voted against the measure (in a move that would later earn her some flak from supporters, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted present.)  

“I will not support an effort to enable war crimes and human rights abuses and violence,” Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress said at the time. “We cannot be talking only about Israelis’ need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes.”

Progressive New York Congressman Jamal Bowman joined most Democrats in approving the funding measure, a move that caused DSA to consider expelling Bowman from the organization, although they settled on not endorsing the lawmaker for re-election after initially backing his run in 2020.

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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