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NYS attorney general says she was ‘offended’ by DSA question on Israel trips

Tish James, a former member of the New York City Council, says she advised candidates to reject the DSA pledge not to visit Israel

Alec Perkins

New York Attorney General Letitia James

New York State Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James denounced a recent Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) questionnaire on Tuesday that asked New York City Council candidates to agree “not to travel to Israel if elected… in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation.”

“I was offended by the question,” James, who served on the City Council from 2004-2013 and was the first Working Families Party member elected to the body, said during a webcast with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. “There was a lot of pushback on the question and I’m glad. That question should not have been on the questionnaire, and if it had been on the questionnaire when I was a candidate for City Council, I would not have sought their support.”

James, who visited Israel on a JCRC-led trip in 2015 as the city’s public advocate, told JCRC-NY Executive Vice President and CEO Rabbi Michael Miller, who moderated the event, that, “at least five candidates reached out” to ask her how she would have answered the DSA’s question regarding travel to Israel. “It’s important that that organization understand why individuals go to Israel,” the state prosecutor said, adding that it was during her time in the Jewish state “that my love for Israel and my commitment to the cause of peace was solidified.” 

“And that’s why I look forward to going back to Israel with you and with others, again, to widen and broaden my experience, because I’m still learning,” James added.

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