A left-wing group has been slammed by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a black man who has supported Israel during its current conflict with Hamas, for alluding to a watermelon in a social media post calling for a protest against him.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a left-wing group that has zealously opposed Israel’s response to terrorist attacks against it on Oct. 7 by Hamas, having been accused of antisemitism in doing so by both Democratic and Republican elected officials. In an advertisement for a protest against Jeffries at his constituency office in Brooklyn for speaking at a pro-Israel rally in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, the DSA included the imagery of a watermelon — a fruit that has long been used as a racial invective against African-American men — which prompted a critical response from Jeffries. (RELATED: Pro-Gaza Protesters Arrested After Disrupting House Judiciary Hearing On Free Speech And Antisemitism)
“The watermelon has long been used as a dehumanizing racist trope by white supremacists in America,” wrote Andy Eicher, Jeffries’ communications director, in response to controversy over the flyer. “[T]he use of racially inflammatory imagery should come as no surprise given the role NYC-DSA and other gentrifiers have played in aggressively attacking Black elected officials.”
Why was @RepJeffries sharing the stage with far-right pastor John Hagee at yesterday’s “March for Israel”? Ask him yourself on Friday!
— NYC-DSA 🌹 (@nycDSA) November 15, 2023
Next to the watermelon, the DSA’s post calls on attendees of their protest to “Make art outside Hakeem Jeffries’ Office.” The watermelon, itself, is drawn with crayons, suggesting that the DSA was encouraging the drawing of watermelon art outside Jeffries’ office.
In a speech at the Rally for Israel on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jeffries called on attendees to “support Israel’s unequivocal right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, always and forever.” He also called for addressing “the cancer of antisemitism” and claimed that Congress would act to stop antisemitic attacks against Jews.
The DSA later defended its use of the watermelon imagery, claiming that it is a symbol of Palestinian liberation. “Watermelons, grown commonly in Palestine, have the same colors [as] the Palestinian flag — red, green, and black,” the DSA wrote on Twitter, now known as X, adding that “[e]ven facing years of violent repression, occupation, and apartheid, [the watermelon] was a way of saying: ‘we are still here, we still exist 🍉🍉.'”
The DSA, particularly its New York City chapter, has accused Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid” in Gaza and the West Bank. On Oct. 8, one day after the terrorist attacks, the group endorsed a rally in Times Square in New York City where they celebrated Hamas’ actions, with attendees chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” a phrase that is interpreted as calling for the destruction of Israel.
The DSA has been criticized by several Democrats during current hostilities, with many accusing the group of antisemitism. Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York let his membership of the DSA lapse, while Democratic Rep. Shri Thanedar of Michigan publicly renounced his membership of the DSA in response to their anti-Israeli advocacy.
Several prominent left-wing House Democrats remain members of the DSA, including Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Cori Bush of Missouri and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Ocasio-Cortez has supported Tlaib’s calls in Congress for a ceasefire but has criticized the DSA for its Oct. 8 rally, regarding it as “bigotry and callousness.”
The DSA did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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