Left-wing Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upped her anti-Israel rhetoric last week, decrying “the occupation of Palestine” by Israel.
After inserting this reference into an interview on the PBS program “Firing Line,” she sought to backtrack, claiming ignorance.
“I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue,” she said. “I just look at things through a human rights lens and I may not use the right words.”
“Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night,” she said.
Although foreign affairs was not a significant issue in her upset of veteran Rep. Joe Crowley in a June Democratic primary in the Queens-Bronx district, in May she had referred to the killing in May of Gazan protesters by Israel troops as a “massacre.”
On “Firing Line,” she said, “I believe absolutely in Israel’s right to exist,” adding that her previous position on the Gaza classes “is not a referendum on the State of Israel.”
“The lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist, as an organizer — if 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx, unarmed, if 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico — I just look at that [Gaza] incident … and to me, it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores,” she said.
“Front Line” host Margaret Hoover, a former aide to President George W. Bush, replied, “Of course the dynamics there, in terms of geopolitics … is very different than people expressing their First Amendment right to protest.”
“Yes,” Ocasio-Cortez conceded, adding, “But I also think that what people are starting to see at least in the occupation … of Palestine [is] just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.”
When Hoover asked her to clarify what she meant, Ocasio-Cortez paused and answered: “I think what I meant is like the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas in places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.”
When asked to expand on her comments, the candidate made her “I am not the expert” assertion.
Both Israel and Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza, have noted that many of those those killed at the Gaza border were members of Hamas terrorist group. Hamas encouraged its followers to breach the border fence in order to enter Israel and kill Israelis.
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on Israel prompted criticism from the right and left.
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing a great service,” wrote Seth Mandel, op-ed editor of the New York Post, on Twitter. “Her argument is twofold: Israel a colonizing occupier of Palestine, and that she doesn’t know anything about the conflict. Accurate: those who think this have no idea what they’re talking about. At least she’s honest.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bashes Israel while admitting she is clueless about what is going on there. She simply toes the far-left, radical agenda. Elected Democrats are endorsing this when they endorse her.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a tweet that she “knows zero about 3,500 yr relationship of Jewish people to Land of Israel.”
Asad Abukhalil, a professor in political science at California State University, Stanislaus, lamented that Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about a two-state solution and support for Israel’s right to exist are “a sign that you have become an already mainstream Democratic candidate.”
“’Israel’s right to exist’ is a euphemism for Israel’s right to occupy Palestine,” Abukhalil added. “@Ocasio2018 should have known that.”
Earlier in the PBS program, Ocasio-Cortez, who describes herself as a Democratic Socialist, said in response to a question about the economy that the United States did not have capitalist roots and that capitalism would end.
“Capitalism has not always existed in the world and it will not always exist in the world,” she said. “When this country started … we did not operate on a capitalist economy.”
While Democratic Socialists of America endorses the BDS movement, Ocasio-Cortez has not discussed her position on the boycott.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has called Ocasio-Cortez the “future of our party.”
She is almost certain to win election in November to fill Crowley’s seat. Crowley was a staunch supporter of the Jewish state.