Democratic Divide Over Israel Drives a Left vs. Left Fight for a House Seat

Wesley Bell, a leader in the progressive prosecutors movement, will take on Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, in St. Louis.

The St. Louis County prosecutor challenging Representative Cori Bush for her House seat in Missouri began his day Thursday being interviewed by a prominent Black radio personality in St. Louis.

The prosecutor, Wesley Bell, then went on to lecture a sociology class at St. Louis Community College, where he once taught criminal justice, had lunch at a soul food restaurant in Ferguson, peaceful now nearly a decade after protests there practically created the Black Lives Matter movement.

He met that afternoon with laborers’ unions, stopped by a Vietnamese community celebration of the Lunar New Year, and ended well into the night at the North County Democrats Club, in suburban Hazelwood.

“If you call me, I’m going to pick up,” Mr. Bell, 49, assured members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, whose leaders once endorsed Ms. Bush and now back her challenger, Mr. Bell. “And if you want me to show up, I’m going to show up.”

Driven by the passions surrounding the massacre of Israelis on Oct. 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza, pro-Israel groups are financing a slew of primary challenges in heavily Democratic districts, aimed at unseating outspoken critics of Israel on the political left.

The deadly war has divided centrist Democrats from progressives like Ms. Bush, who has condemned Israel for its response, seeking to hold up aid while pressing for a cease-fire as the death toll in Gaza has mounted. Late last month, Ms. Bush and the House’s only Palestinian American, Rashida Tlaib, were the lone opponents of a resolution to bar Hamas members and those who participated in the attacks against Israel on Oct. 7 from the United States.

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