Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—darling of the far-left and heroine of the anti-Israel lobby—recently canceled an appearance sponsored by far left ‘pro-Israel’ groups, and reportedly is avoiding meeting with mainstream Jewish groups. In this post, I go over the background of how we got here.

AOC Ignores Mainstream Jewish Community Leaders…

On October 2, The Jewish Insider reported,

Not long after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pulled off a surprise upset in the June 2018 Democratic congressional primary, Michael S. Miller, executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, reached out to set up an in-person meeting.

…Miller, whose organization represents the Jewish community to New York government officials and counts more than 50 local Jewish groups as members, had hoped to begin a dialogue with the young progressive upstart — and, after speaking with her chief of staff, was informed that a meeting with Ocasio-Cortez would be arranged. Two years and multiple follow-ups later, Miller is still waiting on her call.

“That was October of 2018,” Miller said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Wednesday afternoon. “We’re now on the verge of October 2020, and I have yet to meet with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

“There is a lot of frustration,” he sighed.

Miller isn’t alone among New York’s Jewish leaders in wondering why Ocasio-Cortez, who is poised to be reelected to a second term in November, won’t return their calls. In interviews with JI, several prominent members of New York’s Jewish community said they have made overtures to the freshman congresswoman, who turns 31 this month, only to have their entreaties be ignored.

“We were prepared to meet, but there was no reciprocity,” said Rabbi Joe Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, recalling an experience similar to Miller’s. “When I spoke to her she was like, ‘Of course.’ But when it came to arranging a meeting, no response.”

“I don’t know what her reasoning is,” he added with a sense of befuddlement. “I think she has to explain why, as a member of Congress who meets with all different kinds of groups, she’s not willing to meet with us.”

…Amanda Berman, founder and executive director of Zioness, a liberal feminist organization that supports progressive and Zionist causes, also…said her organization had made several attempts to set up a meeting with Ocasio-Cortez, all unsuccessful. Afterward, they posted a highly critical but conciliatory open letter on Twitter and forwarded it to the congresswoman’s chief of staff in the hope that they would hear back. Crickets.

…Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said his group reached out to the congresswoman around the time she was elected. “There was no interest demonstrated,” he said.

…But Meets Happily with Anti-Israel Extremists

By contrast, AOC has met happily with the extremist fringe sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews known as the Neturei Karta (though its leadership participated in Holocaust denial conferences in Iran alongside David Duke) and the Islamists from American Muslims for Palestine.


AOC Confirms Speaking Gig With Americans for Peace Now

As of two weeks ago, AOC was not only willing to meet with the leftist group Americans for Peace Now (APN)—frequently criticized even by liberals for routinely ignoring Palestinian violence and incitement—but even planned to speak at an upcoming APN event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s tragic assassination.

(Rabin, a left-wing Israeli prime minister known for his efforts to make peace with Yasser Arafat in 1993 and 1994, was murdered in 1995 by a Jewish extremist who worried that Rabin planned “to give our country to the Arabs.”)

https://archive.vn/rpExt

Like radical left or Islamist groups we have covered here (such as CodePink, American Muslims for Palestine, or Electronic Intifada), APN publicly advocates a boycott of “the Occupation”; fiercely opposes the Trump Administration and pro-Israel officials it has appointed; decried the closing of the PLO mission in Washington (despite its requirement due to an Obama-era law); complains about Israel barring entry to BDS supporters; and hosts, defends, and works with advocates for Israel’s destruction (such as Yousef Munayyer of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights).

AOC Attacked by Other ‘Woke’ Anti-Zionists

Yet neither APN’s nor AOC’s lefty anti-Israel credentials appear to be enough for some obsessive anti-Zionists, including writer Ali Abunimah and his Electronic Intifada website. When news broke that AOC planned to speak at APN’s Rabin event, Abunimah penned a lengthy piece attacking her for “honoring an Israeli war criminal”:

https://archive.vn/6Fu96

Abunimah complained:
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is helping a liberal Zionist group whitewash a war criminal responsible for atrocities against Palestinians.
Next month the progressive standard-bearer will be speaking at an Americans for Peace Now event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“Rabin’s legacy inspires us all,” Americans for Peace Now stated in their announcement of the event.
The lobby group urged people to register to hear Ocasio-Cortez “reflect on fulfilling the courageous Israeli leader’s mission for peace and justice today in the US and Israel.”
The only feeling this pack of lies should inspire is disgust, especially at Ocasio-Cortez’s willing participation.
https://archive.vn/6Fu96
(Two days ago, Abunimah used this same piece to attack the Islamist favorite, Attorney General Keith Ellison, for agreeing to participate in APN’s event, as well.)
https://archive.vn/HmiMe
Another writer with a history of spreading erroneous anti-Israel narratives, Alex Kane, challenged AOC on her participation via Twitter.
https://twitter.com/alexbkane/status/1309238730583158786
Kane also amplified the reactions of other “Palestinian-Americans” urging AOC to listen to “Palestinian voices”.
https://archive.vn/2qB7j

AOC Buckles Quickly Under Pressure

In contrast to the two years Jewish leaders in New York have been waiting for her response, AOC managed to reply to Kane’s tweets within 24 hours; she made sure to deflect any criticisms (however mendacious their foundations) of her planned participation by blaming APN’s “present[ation]” of the event to her team.
 https://archive.vn/6Fu96
Indeed, as the JTA reported,
Kane later quoted a source as saying that that the invitation to Ocasio-Cortez was not framed as a memorial, but as a review of the Oslo peace process launched by Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993.
This is despite the fact that (emphasis added):
Americans for Peace Now has since Aug. 29 framed the Oct. 20 event as a Rabin memorial. It falls close to the 25th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination as he left a peace rally in Tel Aviv, on Nov. 4, 1995.
Also scheduled to appear at the event are Rabin’s granddaughter, Noa Rothman, and actor Mandy Patinkin, who last month released a video saying “I’ll be hosting a virtual memorial event for Yitzhak Rabin.”
Still, within mere hours of “taking a look” into the ANP event, AOC officially withdrew.
https://twitter.com/alexbkane/status/1309605171761164294
Left-wing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported on the story.
https://archive.vn/wip/GEQ8w
According to the Times of Israel, “The spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez’s office declined to elaborate on the decision.”

Conclusion: AOC’s Cowardice

AOC’s almost immediate submission to Twitter hysteria—and her apparent reticence to examine hyperbolic (and largely false) accusations in favor of accepting descriptions of the “lived experience of the Palestinian people” uncritically—sends clear and crucial messages. As Jonathan Tobin writes,
That she thought it necessary to acquiesce to the demands of a Twitter mob — led in this instance by an anti-Zionist writer for the far-left Jewish Currents publication — speaks volumes not only about her ideology, but about the disciplined nature of the intersectional left when it comes to policing its adherents with respect to Israel. Her overt snub of liberal Jews sends a loud message that there is no place for them in the party base if they are not willing to renounce support for Israel’s right to exist.
In withdrawing from APN’s event—and blaming APN rather than her own cowardice for the move—AOC reveals that she’s Congress’ intersectional Mean Girl; she’s willing to do whatever it takes to retain her star status among far-left cliques, even if that means betraying loyal Jewish supporters.
In a choice between honoring her commitments or chasing the approval of anti-Zionists—who won’t hesitate to excoriate her again if she ever steps beyond their purist anti-Israel line—AOC mistakenly chose the latter.
___
Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.

 

 
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