The publication Jewish Insider today
reported on an issue that has a been a matter of speculation for weeks among Portland political insiders: how and whether the conflict between Israel and Hamas could affect the Democratic primary in Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District.
The sub-headline in today’s article sums up the issue: “Days after Oct.7, Susheela Jayapal declined to sign onto a statement condemning Hamas and standing with Israel,” Jewish Insider wrote.
Although Middle East politics do not normally play a role in Oregon races, Hamas’ attack on Israel in early October led the Multnomah County Commission to discuss what its reaction should be.
As WW reported at the time, board members disagreed about whether to endorse lighting the Morrison Bridge blue and white to show support for Israel and also disagreed about the wording of a proposed statement on the matter.The board did not agree to light the bridge (Chair Jessica Vega Pederson subsequently used her authority to order it done) and Commissioners Lori Stegmann and Susheela Jayapal declined to put their names on a statement condemning Hamas and expressing support for Israel.
Related: Multnomah County Commissioners Fail to Approve Statement on Israel Attack After Tense, Tearful Debate
At the time, Jayapal said she supported lighting the bridge but could not support such her colleagues’ statement, nor did she wish to wordsmith it in a public meeting.
“I don’t think I can acknowledge loss of one group when there are Palestinian lives being lost as well,” Jayapal said then.“I think it’s very difficult to draft this kind of amendment in the moment.”
Jayapal did later issue
her own statement on the attack.
A few weeks after that meeting, U.S.Rep.Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced he would not seek a 15th term.Jayapal jumped into the race, hoping to join her younger sister, U.S.Rep.
Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) in Congress.(In its article today, Jewish Insider referred to Pramila Jayapal as “among the most
outspoken critics of Israel in the House.”)
It now appears Jayapal’s statements the Oct.12 Multnomah County Board of Commissioners meeting will be a factor in the race, as she competes with Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales and state Rep.Maxine Dexter (D-Portland) for the nomination to succeed Blumenauer.
“We were disappointed that she didn’t sign on,” Bob Horenstein, the director of community relations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, told Jewish Insider in about Jayapal’s decision not to sign the statement condemning Hamas and supporting Israel.“I can only surmise that she didn’t feel like it was balanced.”
In a race where none of the three leading announced candidates has an obviously large advantage, the influence of outside money could play a significant role (although national crypto-currency investors spent big in Oregon congressional races in 2022 and
Jewish Insider nodded to the possibility of national money coming here.
“The Portland contest is among a few House races in the Pacific Northwest that Democratic strategists and Jewish activists in the region expect to draw spending from leading pro-Israel groups, even as they have yet to disclose their plans,” the publication reported, adding that two key groups are noncommittal so far.
“Democratic Majority for Israel is ‘closely’ following the Portland race but is still weighing where it will direct its resources, according to a source familiar with internal deliberations,” Jewish Insider wrote.“A spokesperson for American Israel Public Affairs Committee, meanwhile, said in an email to Jewish Insider that the group is “in the process of evaluating congressional races” but has ‘made no decisions at this time.’”
In a statement to Jewish insider, Jayapal explained her position at the Oct.
12 board meeting.
“While working on edits with my colleagues, it became clear that the urgency of the moment superseded the time it would take for us to agree on what words to use to describe our strong condemnation of terror and violence against civilians,” Jayapal told the publication.“That’s why there were separate statements.My views then and now are largely shaped by my conversations with Jewish community members in Multnomah County.”.