“Why I Just Quit DSA,” an essay written by Professor of History Maurice Isserman, appeared in The Nation on Oct. 23. “I left to protest the DSA [Democratic Socialists of America] leadership’s politically and morally bankrupt response to the horrific Hamas October 7 anti-Jewish pogrom that took the lives of 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and saw over 200 hostages carried off to Gaza, both groups of victims including children and infants,” Isserman wrote.
As a founding member of the organization, Isserman offered a brief history of the DSA from its founding in 1982 as “the left wing of the possible.” He observed that after lackluster growth in the 80s and 90s, its membership swelled from 6,000 to 90,000-plus in 2016 to 2020 while dropping the average age of members from 60-something to 20-something. “And those young, energetic recruits proved remarkably politically savvy and successful in the field of electoral politics, not only elevating four members to Congress, but also sending nearly 200 others to state legislatures, city councils, and other offices, almost always as Democrats.”
Isserman also noted that “Starting as far back as the 2017 national convention, chants of ‘From the River to the Sea/Palestine Will Be Free’ began to be heard at DSA gatherings, and support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel became a litmus test within the organization for political purity.” On October 7, in reaction to the attack on Israel by Hamas, the DSA’s National Political Committee issued this statement, “Today’s events are a direct result of Israel’s apartheid regime — a regime that receives billions in funding from the United States.”
In concluding his remarks on his DSA resignation, Isserman wrote, “An organization that can’t take a stand condemning a right-wing terrorist group that set out to murder as many Jewish civilians, including children and infants, as it can lay its hands on, has forfeited the right to call itself democratic socialist.”