Syed Fires Back at Queens DSA Over Israel Stance

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The dispute over anti-Semitism in the special election for City Council Distirct 24 continues.

City Council Candidate Soma Syed, who is running to replace former City Councilmember Rory Lancman in the February 2 special election for District 24 (Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica), shot back at the Queens Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) on Sunday evening saying they had “anti-semitic rhetoric,” “reckless policies” and a “tendencies for bad ideas.” 

Her sharp criticism comes after the Queens DSA released her answer to a controversial question about Israel and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) on their endorsement questionnaire without her permission and condemned her for what they said was a reversal of her stance on Israel.  It is another installment in the accusations of anti-Semitism flying in the District 24 special election following a Twitter controversy involving another candidate, Moumita Ahmed.

City council candidate for District 24 Soma Syed. Photo courtesy of the campaign

“The Queens DSA needs to check itself and not hide their true agenda under a pretext of helping to create a more just society while harboring hate,” Syed said in a statement sent to Queens County Politics

The Queens DSA did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

The multi-part question, which caused outrage over the summer and drew accusations of anti-Semitism from lawmakers throughout the city, asked if candidates seeking DSA support would pledge in solidarity with Palestinians to not participate in their official capacity in expenses-paid trips to Israel if elected to the New York City Council. They also asked if the candidates supported BDS and if not, why.  

Last Tuesday evening, Syed was asked during a candidate forum if she had sought the DSA’s endorsement, if she supported their policy of BDS, and if she had sought their support, would she release her questionnaire answers.

Syed was the only candidate at the forum to have sought their endorsement. She said she was glad she hadn’t gotten far in the process because she didn’t believe in many of their policies, including BDS. When asked if she would release her answers to their questions, she said she’d think about it.

On Thursday in response to her answers at the forum and to her hesitancy to release her questionnaire answers, the Queens DSA released a screenshot of her answer to the controversial Israel question which was contradictory to her answers at the forum. They said they were doing so for transparency and that they hoped candidates seeking their endorsement in the future would not “waver on the issue of Palestinian liberation for political convenience.” 

In her statement this weekend to Queens County Politics, Syed questioned why the DSA targeted Israel in their questionnaire when there are many other places that could be boycotted as well such as China for their treatment of Muslims and Myanmar for their genocide of the Rohingya.

“Why isn’t the Queens DSA going after other countries that engage in genocide, genital mutilation, slave labor, and so much more?” she wrote. 

Syed said that she condemns all violence in the Middle East and that for the issue of Israel and Palestine specifically, she supports what she called a “peaceful two states process.”

“If the Queens DSA genuinely wants to help improve our community, they should learn to expand their opinions and perspectives,” she said. “Until such a time, our community will not condone their anti-semitic rhetoric, their reckless policies, and tendencies for bad ideas.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Queens DSA did not respond to requests for comment.