(September 6, 2018 / JNS) Ayanna Pressley upset 10-term Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano in the Tuesday-night primary for the party nomination in Massachusetts’ 7th District.
Unopposed by a Republican in the general election, Pressley is expected to become the first female black congresswoman elected from the state. Many have compared her upset in Massachusetts to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat of longtime Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in June. Ocasio-Cortez, a self-avowed Democratic Socialist, has drawn headlines over her progressive politics, as well as within the Jewish community over her controversial statements regarding Israel.
Pressley, who also has strong progressive views, has had a mixed record on Israel that is drawing concern among Boston Jewish leaders.
For example, she supports a House bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) that would mandate the U.S. government certify that its military funding to Israel is not used for “Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” However, the watchdog group NGO Monitor, accused Rep. McCollum’s legislation of “exploiting Palestinian children” with the legislation that is based on “invented international legal claims.”
The Boston chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which has had a good relationship with Pressley dating to her days as a Boston city councilwoman, defended the candidate over being endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez, who has been embraced by the BDS movement. (Capuano was endorsed by Massachusetts Peace Action, which also supports BDS.)
Still, JCRC Boston executive director Jeremy Burton called McCollum’s bill “highly problematic” in presenting “a false narrative of Israel,” and Pressley’s support of it “a real concern.”
“That’s a conversation we’re going to look forward to having with her,” said Burton. “She’s been open to having real and meaningful conversations with us on a variety of issues of concern to our community throughout her career.”
However, unlike Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley opposes the BDS movement.
“I do not support BDS as a means to achieve a two-state solution because I believe it does not acknowledge the efforts of those on the ground who are deeply committed to bringing peaceful coexistence to the region, and pushes Israelis and Palestinians farther away from the meaningful engagement and dialogue needed to empathize with each other’s struggle and acknowledge each other’s humanity,” Pressley states on her campaign website.
Regarding Pressley being endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez, Burton said, “I’m interested in Ayanna Pressley as the person she is, not by the particulars of every single person who has endorsed her.”