‘Squad’ member survives challenge from centrist Democrat after anti-Israel rhetoric threatened re-election

A member of the far-left “Squad” survived a challenge from a centrist Democrat on Tuesday despite her sharp criticism of Israel that threatened her effort to win re-election in a district with a sizable Jewish community.

Rep. Summer Lee, a first-term congresswoman, will once again be the Democrat nominee to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, after defeating local councilwoman Bhavini Patel.

Lee’s victory follows that of fellow “Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in 2022, when she was nearly ousted in her own primary after making controversial remarks about police and Israel throughout her political career.

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Democrat congressional candidate Bhavini Patel (left) and Rep. Summer Lee, D-Pa. (right). (Patel for PA/Getty Images)

The race was viewed as an early test of how progressive Democrats critical of Israel might perform with voters as the party faces a continued divide over support for one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East amid continued Gaza military operations in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack.

Since the attack and the war’s escalation, Lee had called for a ceasefire and opposed sending more funding to Israel.

She had come under fire in recent months from pro-Israel groups and the Jewish community for her rhetoric on the war, including an open letter signed by dozens of rabbis condemning her “divisive rhetoric” they said had been “perceived as openly antisemitic.”

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The article warned about Former President Donald Trump beating President Joe Biden in recent polling in swing states. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

While campaigning, Patel framed Lee’s anti-Israel stance as part of a left-wing politics too extreme for the people of the district, and argued it ran in contrast to President Biden’s agenda as he faces his own challenge of winning Pennsylvania against former President Donald Trump in November.

The issue of antisemitism was a particularly potent issue in the 12th district because it is home to the synagogue where a gunman killed 11 congregants in 2018, the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Lee’s victory helped her avoid being the first House Democrat incumbent to lose a primary this year. Other “Squad” members are also expected to face tough primary challenges from centrist Democrats, including Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Fox News’ Emma Colton and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Brandon Gillespie is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on X at @BGillespieAL.

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