A left-wing group has been criticized by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a black man who has supported Israel during its ongoing conflict with Hamas, for alluding to a watermelon in a social media post that called for a protest against him.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a left-wing group that has zealously opposed Israel’s response to the terrorist attacks carried out on Israel on October 7 by Hamas, having been accused of anti-Semitism in doing so by elected officials both Democrats and Republicans. In an announcement of a protest against Jeffries at his Brooklyn election office for speech At a pro-Israel rally in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, the DSA included an image of a watermelon (a fruit that has long been used as a racial slur against African-American men), prompting a critical response from Jeffries. (RELATED: Pro-Gaza protesters arrested after disrupting House court hearing on free speech and anti-Semitism)
“The watermelon has long been used as a dehumanizing racist trope by white supremacists in America.” wrote Jeffries communications director Andy Eicher in response to the steering wheel controversy. “[T]The use of racially inflammatory images should not be surprising given the role NYC-DSA and other gentrifiers have played in aggressively attacking Black elected officials.”
Because it was @RepJeffries Sharing the stage with far-right pastor John Hagee at yesterday’s “March for Israel”? Ask him yourself on Friday!
— New York-DSA 🌹 (@nycDSA) November 15, 2023
Along with the watermelon, the DSA post calls on those attending their protest to “make art in front of Hakeem Jeffries’ office.” The watermelon itself is drawn with crayons, suggesting that the DSA was encouraging the drawing of watermelons outside Jeffries’ office.
In a speech Tuesday at the rally for Israel on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Jeffries called attendees to “support Israel’s unequivocal right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, always and forever.” He also called for addressing “the cancer of anti-Semitism” and stated that Congress would act to stop anti-Semitic attacks against Jews.
The DSA later defended its use of the watermelon image, stating that it is a symbol of Palestinian liberation. “Watermelons, which are commonly grown in Palestine, have the same colors [as] the Palestinian flag: red, green and black”, the DSA wrote on Twitter, now known as X, adding that “[e]Even facing years of violent repression, occupation and apartheid, [the watermelon] It was a way of saying: ‘we are still here, we still exist 🍉🍉’.”
The DSA, particularly its New York City section, has accused Israel of “genocide” and “racial segregation”in Gaza and the West Bank. On October 8, a day after the terrorist attacks, the group supported a rally in Times Square in New York City where they celebrated the actions of Hamas, with attendees singing “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” a phrase that is interpreted as a call for the destruction of Israel.
The DSA has been criticized by several Democrats during the current hostilities, with many accusing the group of anti-Semitism. Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York left his DSA membership lapsewhile Democratic Rep. Shri Thanedar of Michigan publicly resigned his membership in the DSA in response to his anti-Israel advocacy.
Several prominent left-wing House Democrats remain members of the DSA, including Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Cori Bush of Missouri and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Ocasio-Cortez has supported Tlaib’s calls in Congress for a ceasefire, but has criticized the DSA for its Oct. 8 rally. about He described it as “intolerance and insensitivity.”
The DSA did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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