Last Thursday, Illinois State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss announced Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa as his running mate for the state’s highest office. The selection by the 40-year-old Democrat was perceived as a bold move to solidify his Progressive credentials. Biss is Jewish and represents a heavily Jewish district. Ramirez-Rosa has made comments in support of BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.
I think that it has to be an issue that is brought up at the convention. You know, for too long the U.S. government has subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people, and it’s time that stopped.
Last month at the DSA convention in Chicago, Ramirez-Rosa gave the opening remarks. The organization voted with 90 percent support to adopt an anti-Israel measure that read in part:
Democratic Socialists of America declares itself in solidarity with Palestinian civil society’s nonviolent struggle against apartheid, colonialism, military occupation and for equality, human rights, and self-determination; Democratic Socialists of America responds to Civil Society’s call by fully supporting BDS….
The anti-Israel chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” followed the vote, as reported by Legal Insurrection. The slogan is regarded by many as a call for the elimination or removal of all Jews from the state of Israel.
Ramirez-Rosa’s anti-Israel position began surfacing Friday on social media when Illinois congressional candidate Jeremy Wynes (R) tweeted a statement demanding his opponent in the 2018 mid-term election, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-10), “rescind support for a governor’s ticket w/ an avowed socialist, BDS supporter.”
Three days later, Schneider did just that, posting on Facebook:
On August 31, I was surprised to learn through press reports that Senator Daniel Biss had selected Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa as his running mate. I was immediately concerned about some of Alderman Ramirez-Rosa’s past comments about the United States support of our ally Israel, and his affiliation with a group that is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Following conversations with Senator Biss and Alderman Ramirez-Rosa, I have informed the campaign of the withdrawal of my support.
This decision is not taken lightly. I remain hopeful that, as Alderman Ramirez-Rosa learns more about the importance of the US-Israel partnership to both our nations, the unique challenges Israel faces as the only democracy in a very dangerous neighborhood, and the commitment of the vast majority of the Israeli people to peace and a two state solution, he will reconsider his positions.
Schneider’s withdrawal of support is considered a powerful blow to the Biss campaign, which lacks the financial resources of Democrat frontrunner J.B. Pritzker and current governor Bruce Rauner (R).
In 2016, Illinois exported nearly $269 million in goods to Israel. Over the past 20 years, exports to the Jewish state have exceeded $4.5 billion.
Request for comment from the Biss campaign and Alderman Ramirez-Rosa have gone unanswered.
Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on twitter @pauliespoint.