Congressman Gary Ackerman, a long-serving Jewish member of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced that he will not seek re-election in November 2012.
Ackerman, 69, represented New York’s 5th Congressional District for 29 years on the democratic ticket, and leaves as the ranking democrat on the Middle East subcommittee. He was indeed active in promoting US-Israeli ties, and in encouraging peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. Although supportive of AIPAC, he irked many when he accepted the endorsement of the left-wing Israel lobbyist group J-Street. Ackerman later publicly distanced himself from J-Street after its “public call for the Obama Administration to not veto a prospective UN Security Council resolution” that condemned Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. In the same missive he ended his brief friendship with the group: “I’ve come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated.”
Ackerman was most recently involved in the successful efforts to free Israeli-American citizen Ilan Grapel from prison in Egypt on spy charges. Grapel is a constituent of Ackerman’s.
“During my years in Congress, it has been my pleasure to address the needs of thousands of individual constituents and to influence domestic and global policy while serving on the Financial and Foreign Affairs Committees in the House,” Ackerman said in a statement. “I am most thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve my country and my community.”
President Barack Obama released a statement, thanking Ackerman for being “a leader in the fight to pass Wall Street reform and helped strengthen the bonds between the United States and our allies, particularly Israel.”
State Assemblyman Rory Lancman told Bloomberg that he will seek the Democratic nomination.