Pro-BDS congressional candidate source of concern for Massachusetts Jews

Ihssane Leckey is openly supportive of the BDS movement, and has gained the support of Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also known as BDS. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also known as BDS.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A candidate for a Congressional seat has been tipped as a front-runner, despite gaining the backing of individuals and organizations associated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Ihssane Leckey, who is making a bid to become the Representative for Massachusetts' 4th District, has gained support from fellow Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), political activist Linda Sarsour, the organization IfNotNow that campaigns against an Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza, and the pro-Palestinian group Jewish Voice for Peace.
She was also recently named by Tucker Carlson in his Fox News slot as the “likely successor” to incumbent Joe Kennedy, who has stepped down from the seat in order to run for the Senate.
No formal polling has been done on the race, which features 11 candidates, but an internal poll by the Leckey campaign put her in third place at 11%, behind Becky Grossman at 19%, and Jake Auchincloss who drew the backing of 16% of those polled. The Grossman campaign has also conducted polling, and found its candidate in the lead with 13%.
However, the district, although diverse, has a strong Jewish presence that is influencing the race. Several of the nine Democratic candidates making a bid for the seat hail from Newton, a heavily Jewish suburb west of Boston, and neighboring
Brookline to its east, also historically Jewish and affluent, according to JNS.
Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, told JNS that the Jewish community is watching the race closely.
“The MA04 congressional race is of great interest to the Jewish community, more than the typical open seat, given that it has the largest Jewish population of any seat in New England. About 75,000 Jews live in the fourth,” he said.
The Democratic primary for the seat, to be held on September 1, will be run with no run-off mechanism, meaning that whoever gets the most votes will win the nomination, even if they don't have the support of the majority of voters. With nine candidates in the race, the winner could technically be elected with as little as 12% of the vote, although the likelihood is that whoever wins will need to persuade closer to 25% of the electorate.
Nonetheless, “that means that it is highly likely that Democrats in the fourth will nominate someone who is not the preferred candidate of the vast majority of voters,” said Burton. “This leaves the door open to someone who doesn’t represent the mainstream of the district, whatever that is.”
Leckey's conduct during the race has not filled the Jewish community with confidence. While seven of the nine Democrat candidates have engaged with surveys and candidate forums run by Jewish media, political groups and the community, both Leckey and one other candidate have not.
“Seven of the nine Democrats running, and both Republicans, have participated in at least one, if not all three, of these opportunities to get their views out to the Jewish community in their own words. Two of the nine Democratic candidates, Ihssane Leckey and Chris Zannetos, have declined all three opportunities to engage with Jewish media and organizational forums and surveys,” said Burton.
“Ihssane Leckey is one of the most strongly anti-Israel candidates on the ballot anywhere in the country this year,” Democratic Majority for Israel spokesperson Rachel Rosen told JNS.
Similarly, Andrea Levin, executive director of the Newton-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), told JNS that while her organization doesn't endorse candidates, “we do endorse knowing the facts. Here there are facts on the public record that are relevant. For instance, seeking endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America, Leckey responded ‘Yes’ on a questionnaire asking if she supports BDS. BDS is a radical, antisemitic campaign of lies about Israel whose aim is to cripple, isolate and destroy the Jewish state. This is the openly stated purpose of its founders and leading adherents.”
Burton agreed, encouraging voters to educate themselves on the candidates' views.
“We at JCRC are encouraging the community to educate themselves about the candidates, their positions, who they’ve engaged with during the campaign and who they are endorsed by,” he said. “We are encouraging everyone to self-educate – and then to get out and vote.”