Yuh-Line Niou, a runner-up in last Tuesday’s Democratic primary for an Open House seat representing Manhattan and Brooklyn, has come under scrutiny as the only candidate in a crowded field to voice support for the movement Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
His support for BDS last month, in a statement to Jewish insideris almost certain to receive renewed attention if she runs to the Working Families Party line in the November election – a possibility that Niou, a progressive member of the National Assembly, has not still ruled out.
Niou was already targeted in the final days of the primary, in a series of letters funded by the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, which backed its opponent, Dan Goldman, the Democratic candidate.
While Niou had explicitly supported the BDS movement in an email to JI, however, she has since wavered in her approach. Earlier this month, for example, Niou’s campaign site quietly added a section on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its issues page, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which recorded the change.
“Although Yuh-Line has not personally participated in the BDS movement, it supports the free speech rights of BDS activists,” the site reads. “Yuh-Line believes that the rights to protest are fundamental to a free society, and we must never enact laws that punish the free exercise of these rights. At the same time, Yuh-Line does not agree with all the demands of the BDS movement, nor does it adopt all of its tactics.
Niou, who has not clarified which “demands” or “tactics” she agrees with, has also sought to elucidate her approach to BDS in recent interviews and public forums.
Meanwhile, Niou makes no mention of BDS in an Israeli policy document written for his House campaign and recently obtained by JI. The document briefly touches on issues such as a two-state solution, Israeli settlement expansion and legislation introduced last year by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would impose restrictions on military aid. American to Israel.
“Israelis, like everyone else, deserve to live in safety and security, and I support sincere efforts to ensure this is the case, including defensive military aid,” Niou writes. “Our tax money should always be transparent about how it is used. They should never be used to harm or violate human rights.
This passage, like several in the diary, corresponds almost word for word to comments Niou gave during a telephone interview with JI in early July.
The McCollum bill is supported by the Working Families Party, which includes a question about the legislation in its questionnaires for congressional candidates.
A spokesperson for Niou’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding the omission of BDS from the position paper. It is not known when the paper was written.
Niou has been endorsed by the Working Families Party and is now weighing a third-party challenge in New York’s redesigned 10th congressional district, after losing the Democratic nomination to Goldman, a former Trump impeachment prosecutor who slapped him. narrowly won by a two-point margin, with 95 percent of the votes reported.
The Associated press called the race for Goldman, but Niou did not concede, insisting, “We have to count every vote.”
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), who lost his bid for another term, was dropped from the Working Families Party ballot on Monday, opening a possible avenue for Niou.
For his part, Goldman has opposed BDS, recently criticizing the movement as “anti-Zionist” and “anti-Semitic.”
In a recent letter funded by the United Democracy Project, Niou was directly accused of supporting the “anti-Semitic BDS agenda,” a message intended to reach the large population of Jewish voters who live in the district.
Niou denied these allegations. “People think the BDS movement is somehow anti-Semitic, but I don’t think that’s the case,” she told JI last month. “I think it’s about making sure people can have the right to have free speech.”