Et tu Casar

DSA Austin says it will no longer help candidate who opposes BDS

The socialist group called Greg Casar’s positions on Israel ‘not reconcilable with DSA’s stance in solidarity with Palestine’

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Greg Casar

The Austin chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) announced it “will no longer be working on” the congressional campaign of Greg Casar in Texas’s 35th District and that Casar was pulling his request for an endorsement. The move, announced in a statement posted to the Austin DSA-run publication Red Fault, followed a report from Jewish Insider that Casar opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and supports military aid to the Jewish state.

The statement called the progressive candidate’s positions on Israel “not reconcilable with DSA’s stance in solidarity with Palestine” and said the decision followed discussions with Casar over his Israel-related policy positions.

The chapter, which had previously announced its support for Casar, stopped short of pulling its endorsement on Sunday, noting that such a move would require a chapter-wide vote. A spokesperson for Casar did not respond to a request for comment. 

The statement came days after JI published a letter Casar sent to a local rabbi in which the candidate explained his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the letter, Casar — a three-term city councilmember and himself a DSA member — pledged support for American military assistance to Israel, stated his opposition to the BDS movement and expressed a desire to travel to Israel and the West Bank — positions that conflict with DSA’s stated principles. 

“We consistently stand against military aid and interventions around the globe, so we of course oppose providing military aid of any kind to Israel,” the DSA chapter wrote. “We also support the overwhelming call from Palestinian civil society for BDS.”

Casar holds a commanding lead in the March 1 Democratic primary, with polls conducted by his campaign showing him leading Texas state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez by more than 20 points. Casar has won the endorsement of prominent lawmakers and progressive organizations, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Justice Democrats. Casar outpaced Rodriguez in fundraising the final quarter of 2021. 

“We have a long history of working with Greg Casar on health care, paid sick time, police budgets, homelessness, housing justice, union rights, and more,” the Austin DSA said in its statement. “Many individual members will continue to support the campaign.”

The Austin chapter cited the national organization’s position on Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). Bowman earned DSA’s endorsement in 2020 but angered many of its members the following year when he traveled to Israel with J Street and voted in favor of supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. 

In December, following calls from some DSA members to expel Bowman from the organization, the group’s national political committee criticized Bowman’s votes in support of Israel and his travel to the region but opted not to boot him from the organization. DSA said the group will not re-endorse Bowman’s election bid “unless he is able to demonstrate solidarity with Palestine in alignment with expectations we have set.”