Newly elected congressman Ritchie Torres, a progressive Democrat representing the South Bronx, indicated Saturday in an interview with the New York Post that he has no intention of joining the "Squad," a grouping of democratic socialist members of the Democratic Party consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.
In the past, members of the "Squad" have made harsh criticisms of Israel, while supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Omar and Tlaib in particular have also been accused of making antisemitic comments in past public statements.
During the interview, Torres noted that BDS as a movement unfairly targets and singles out Israel, making it a form of discrimination, while also touching on his personal connection to the country through trips to Israel in 2015 and 2017.
Torres highlighted meeting families in the rocket-afflicted city of Sderot, in southern Israel, saying that he could not fathom living under the constant threat of rocket fire. He also mentioned his support for the two-state solution as the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the city of New York, Torres has also ruffled feathers with those on the left-wing of the Democratic Party, particularly the increasingly influential Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
Torres has condemned the DSA for not explicitly affirming Israel's right to exist, suggesting that this view is "insane," in a tweet from August. Despite expressing his support for Bernie Sanders in 2016 as Democratic Party nominees, Sanders decided to support his opponent during the primaries. The DSA has also expressed their dislike of Torres in the past.
Despite his views on Israel, Torres hope to promote progressive views in congress primarily on domestic issues, such as housing and other issues.