Pennsylvania Representative Summer Lee Under Fire Over Israel Criticism


( – Just ahead of primary elections in Western Pennsylvania, a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Keystone State is facing backlash over criticizing Israel and the Jewish state’s ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Rep. Summer Lee is a part of the Progressive Caucus, which includes other notable lawmakers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, who will face a heavily contested primary election in 2024. Lee’s district is the 12th congressional district of Pennsylvania and includes Pittsburgh, as well as a large part of Allegheny County and a portion of Westmoreland County.

Lee’s primarily blue district is also home to a large Jewish community with close connections, a community reeling from the war’s effects, especially the aftermath of the attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7th, 2023, that sparked the current wave of violence. The district was also impacted by the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, which left eleven people dead and six wounded, including multiple Holocaust survivors present. The shooting was the deadliest single attack on a Jewish community in American history.

Beside many yard signs in the district’s community promoting Lee’s opponent, Bhavini Patel, are also signs proclaiming, “We stand with Israel.” In March, a group of Jewish leaders from Lee’s district signed an open letter to her rebuking the congresswoman for her criticism of the Israeli government. They called her rhetoric “divisive” and said that there were times when it even came off as “openly antisemitic.”

Lee has been vocal in her calls for a ceasefire in the conflict and her support of Palestinians. In an interview, she said her “biggest gripe” is that no issues are simply “black and white.” Despite the tensions over her stance on Israel, prominent Democrats endorsed Lee’s campaign, including Sen. Bob Casey and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Although Democratic Jewish voters are turned off from her campaign, they are not the majority in the party, which has been leaning more pro-Palestinian and President Joe Biden is also bleeding votes for not taking as hardline of a position on it the way Lee and other lawmakers have.

Copyright 2024,