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Congressman quits Democratic Socialists party over pro-Palestinian rally

Michigan Representative Shri Thanedar is renouncing his membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) after the New York City chapter of the party backed a pro-Palestinian rally over the weekend.

The rally, held on Sunday in Times Square, was attended by over 1,000 supporters of Palestinians a day after Hamas militants launched a deadly attack against Israel, sparking a war that has led to more than 2,200 deaths in four days, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The NYC-DSA has said that it did not organize the rally, adding in a statement Tuesday that the chapter promoted the event “in anticipation of escalatory violence to come” in light of Saturday’s attacks. But the rally has led to a rift among progressive members of Congress seeking to distance themselves from the demonstration, where crowds chanted, “Resistance is justified when people are occupied.”

“Today, I am officially renouncing my membership in the Democratic Socialists of America,” Thanedar wrote in a statement shared to X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday.

“After the brutal terrorist attacks on Israel, which included the indiscriminate murder, rape, and kidnapping of innocent men, women, and children, I can no longer associate with an organization unwilling to call out terrorism in its forms,” he added. “Sunday’s hate-filled and antisemitic rally in New York City, promoted by the NYC-DSA, makes it impossible for me to continue my affiliation.”

The escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has thrown several Democratic lawmakers into the spotlight who have long criticized Israel’s actions on the Gaza Strip. Some mainstream Democrats have condemned their fellow party members who have called on the U.S. to strip aid to Israel.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez broke her silence about Sunday’s rally in a statement to Politico on Monday, telling the outlet, “It should not be hard to shut down hatred and antisemitism where we see it. That is a core tenet of solidarity.”

“The bigotry and callousness expressed in Times Square on Sunday were unacceptable and harmful in this devastating moment,” Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the DSA, added. “It also did not speak for the thousands of New Yorkers who are capable of rejecting both Hamas’ horrifying attacks against innocent civilians as well as the grave injustices and violence Palestinians face under occupation.”

Congressman Jamaal Bowman, a fellow New York lawmaker and DSA member, also condemned the rally in a statement to X on Tuesday, writing that Hamas’ actions “are unequivocally abhorrent and must be strongly and clearly condemned.”

“We must remember that Palestinian civilians are not responsible for Hamas’s actions,” read Bowman’s statement. “We must ensure we center human rights and be clear-eyed about the loss of life that will unnecessarily be inflicted upon all innocent civilians.”

Since Saturday’s attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza and promised that his country’s response would be remembered “for decades to come.”

Palestinian civilians told AP that the bombardment of airstrikes from the Israeli military over the past several days is the most severe attack in recent memory. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that at least 1,100 people have been killed in Gaza and 5,339 others wounded since Saturday, according to a report by CNN.

Newsweek reached out to DSA’s press team for comment via email Wednesday evening.

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