Intel: Pro-Palestinian progressive insurgent ousts House Foreign Affairs chairman

al-monitor The House of Representatives will be getting a new Foreign Affairs Committee chairman next year following the defeat of New York Rep. Eliot Engel (L) in a New York City Democratic primary by former school principal Jamaal Bowman (right). Photo by Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images (L) / Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images (R).

Jul 17, 2020

Pro-Palestinian progressive insurgent Jamaal Bowman ousted House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel in the New York Democratic primary, according to an Associated Press call of the election today. While Engel has been trailing Bowman by a wide margin since the election was held last month, the counting of mail-in ballots has delayed the final results.

Why it matters: Engel, a 16-term incumbent, was a powerful ally of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). While Bowman campaigned mostly on domestic issues, he also attacked Engel over his lengthy foreign policy record. Specifically, he criticized Engel’s vote for the 2002 Iraq war authorization, his opposition to President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and his 2016 vote to allow the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, as well as the influx of cash his campaign received from defense contractors.

The race also became a high-dollar proxy war between AIPAC-aligned groups and Justice Democrats, a pro-Palestinian progressive organization that helped Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseat former House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley in New York in 2018. The Justice Democrats group has called for ending US arms sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt on human rights grounds.

What’s next: Republicans have not fielded a challenger in the solidly blue district, and Bowman is all but assured victory in the November general election. In the meantime, the race to replace Engel as Foreign Affairs Committee chairman on Capitol Hill is already unfolding. Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, are all vying for the position.

Know more: Congressional Correspondent Bryant Harris will have the full story on the race to replace Engel as foreign affairs chairman later today. In the meantime, read his story detailing how Engel’s primary became a proxy war between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups.

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