Former Rep. Mondaire Jones rips Jamaal Bowman over Israel and endorses primary competitor George Latimer


Former New York Congressman Mondaire Jones has endorsed George Latimer in his primary campaign against Rep. Jamaal Bowman for New York’s 16th Congressional District, citing Bowman’s harsh criticisms of Israel.  

Jones’ endorsement is significant because both he and Bowman are progressive Democrats in neighboring districts. In 2020, both won closely contested primaries, becoming the first Black men to represent Westchester County in Congress. Jones lost his seat in the 17th district in 2022 and is running to regain it. 

Jones told The New York Times in an interview published Monday that Bowman had caused “pain and anxiety” for Jews with his statements about Israel, including calling for a ceasefire early in the conflict. 

“There is nothing progressive about rushing to call for a cease-fire in the days following Oct. 7 before Israel could even begin to defend itself,” Jones told the newspaper.

The interview was a blow to Bowman, whose race is seen as a bellwether for a Democratic Party that has been split over the Israel-Hamas war since Oct. 7. Centrists like Latimer have supported Israel’s during its military campaign in Gaza, while Bowman and other progressives have accused Israel of “genocide.” 

The 16th district’s primary will take place on June 25. The district covers southern Westchester County, where Latimer serves as county executive, and a sliver of the Bronx.

Shortly after the endorsement went public, Bowman tweeted a group photo of Jews for Jamaal, a group supporting his campaign, and wrote, referencing the pro-Israel lobby that has supported Latimer, “AIPAC can spend their millions, but on June 25th #WeDecide the future of our district, not them.”

The endorsement from Jones could benefit himself as well as Latimer. Bowman has accused Latimer of racism, while Jones is campaigning against Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, a staunch supporter of Israel, to regain his seat in Congress.

In response to the endorsement, Lawler shared a 2020 quote from Jones linking himself and Bowman and said, “The desperation and dishonesty is embarrassing.”

Bowman is one of a few members of the Squad, the group of progressive members of Congress, who is facing a tough primary challenge.Jones’ endorsement of Latimer sparked pushback from other Squad members, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Summer Lee and Cori Bush, who called the endorsement “disgusting” on Monday. 

According to Semafor, Bush asked whether Jones wanted to be “someone that the members know will be your friend one day, and then as soon as it’s beneficial to him, will completely not only turn on you, but will go and support the person that is challenging you?”

Despite their former alliance, Jones and Bowman now differ in their approach to the war. Bowman called for a ceasefire on Oct. 16 in a statement that did not mention Hamas, terrorism or Israeli hostages. In addition to the genocide accusation, he has called for the United States to curb weapons shipments to Israel. His rhetoric on the war has alienated much of the district’s sizable Jewish population. 

Latimer has taken a vocally pro-Israel stance and visited Israel on a solidarity trip in November. Jones once worked for Latimer and sought to align himself with his former boss on Israel. 

“It is my prerogative to play a dispositive role in ending this long, painful nightmare that we have been experiencing since Oct. 7,” Jones told the Times.

Bowman has repeatedly attacked Latimer for receiving funding from AIPAC, including during the candidates’ first debate last month, in which Bowman said the lobby was “funded by right-wing Republicans who want to destroy our democracy.” During the debate, Bowman also accused Israel of perpetrating an “onslaught on innocent civilians in Gaza” and tied Latimer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Latimer said during the debate that Bowman “does not support Israel,” distanced himself from Netanyahu, blamed Hamas for the conflict and repeatedly brought up the hostages held by the terror group, whose plight advocates for Israel have placed at the center of their activism.

Bowman has made some outreach to Jewish voters, holding a meeting with Jewish constituents in November and working with Jews for Jamaal. He split from the Democratic Socialists of America in 2021 by supporting U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

The liberal Israel lobby J Street rescinded its endorsement of Bowman in January over his rhetoric on the war. He has been endorsed by the House Democratic leadership.

Latimer has pulled in more funding from Bowman, with $3.6 million as of the end of March, compared to Bowman’s $2.6 million. Latimer has won support from Jewish groups including the Democratic Majority for Israel and the Jewish Democratic Council of America.