Jew-hating Bowman’s ignorance on display in ‘happy Purim’ wish


It’s no surprise that one of Israel’s harshest critics in Washington doesn’t understand Judaism, even as he uses it to obscure his antisemitism.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, the card-carrying member of the leftist “Squad,” whose district includes parts of the Bronx and Westchester, wished the Jewish community a happy Purim on X.

“Chag Purim sameach to all of those in the Jewish community! Let today be filled with joy, hamantashen, and costumes,” he wrote. “As the Megillah is reread, let’s remind ourselves of the incredible bravery of Esther and the resilience of the Jewish community.”

Bowman was quickly roasted as a hypocrite who cares little about the “resilience of the Jewish community.”

After all, Bowman is an unrepentant, one-sided critic of Israel. Even before Oct. 7, he blamed Israel exclusively for the lack of peace in the region. He spearheaded a bicameral letter with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, calling on the Biden administration to “undertake a shift in US policy” towards Israel.

Oct. 7 should have been a wake-up call for Bowman. It wasn’t.

Only a month after Hamas’s horrific massacre, Bowman was already calling for a ceasefire and defending this call as “uplifting deeply what it actually means to be Jewish.” (Bowman is not Jewish, deeply or otherwise.)

A few days later, in a newly unearthed social-media video, Bowman derided reports of Hamas raping Israeli women and beheading babies a “lie” and “propaganda.”

He also has the ignominious honor of losing the left-wing lobby J Street’s endorsement — not an easy feat for your run-of-the-mill anti-Israel liberal — for calling Israel’s military operation in Gaza “genocide.”

This background makes Bowman’s Purim post bad enough. It takes a special kind of hubris — or chutzpah — to praise the Jewish people’s survival centuries ago while undermining their survival today.

It also takes a special kind of ignorance.

• • •

The story of Purim is not about hamantaschen and costumes. Those are ancillary customs that are meant to remind us of the holiday’s central theme: Faced with an existential threat, the Jewish people took matters into their own hands and preemptively killed their enemies.

The Jews of the Purim story lived in exile in Persia under an impetuous king. The king’s adviser, Haman, hated the Jews, whom he described as “scattered and separate among the nations … and their laws differ from every nation, and they do not keep the king’s laws.” He convinced the king that “it is not worth letting them be” (Esther 3:8).

Queen Esther, with the help of her uncle Mordechai, alerted the king of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews on the 13th day of the Jewish month of Adar. Ultimately, the king sided with the Jews and gave them permission to destroy their enemies.

The story, as told to young children, is filled with celebration and positive imagery. But the words of the megillah text portray a violent albeit victorious end in which the Jews kill 75,000 of their foes (Esther 9:16-17).

There is a sense of historical Jews as hapless, helpless victims — a persecuted minority without the means to fight back. But the story of Purim and the arc of Jewish history are also a tale of survival against all odds.

That arc found its height in the birth of Zionism: The idea that Jews will never be truly safe without a homeland. The idea that Jews cannot rely on the kindness and mercy of others for their continued existence. The idea that Jews will not cower in fear. We will not hide our Jewishness to appease yet another enemy. We will not beg for the right to live. We will demand it.

• • •

In a few weeks, Jews will celebrate Passover. We will read from the Haggadah about the Jewish people’s persecution in Egypt and G-d’s deliverance. We will ask G-d to “pour your wrath” on those who seek to consume us and “to pursue them with anger and eradicate them under the skies of the L-rd.”

This year, the prayer of Sh’foch Chamascha (Pour Out Your Wrath) will have special meaning as we think about the 1,200-plus Jews slaughtered by Hamas and the hostages in the dark terror tunnels of Gaza’s underworld.

Politicians all over the country will post perfunctory tweets and graphics commemorating this holiday like many others. Predictably, a well-meaning but ill-informed staffer will get his Jewish symbols messed up (sorry, Mike Pence) or swap one Jewish holiday for another (ahem, Marjorie Taylor Greene). These are harmless faux pas worth a chuckle or two.

Bowman’s post was neither a faux pas nor well-meaning. It is a complete misunderstanding of the holiday of Purim and Jewish history. Combined with his persistent criticism of Israel, it is a mockery of the holiday and Israel’s age-old fight to survive in the face of dogged antisemitism.

To Bowman and his friends on the left: please spare us the glossy photos and hypocritical ignorance. We are not interested in your false friendship. Kindly take your Chanukah and Passover posts and shove them into a dark place that never sees the light of day. You are fooling no one … except maybe yourselves.

Nachama Soloveichik, a partner at the ColdSpark political consulting firm, was communications director for Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign and a descendent of great Torah scholars.