With her upset victory over incumbent Representative Joe Crowley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at 28 years old, is arguably emerging as the face of millennial politics. While Cortez – who is an ardent proponent of modern socialist ideology – certainly mobilized her supporters effectively, she has shown little skill in learning the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Over the course of her campaign to unseat Crowley, Cortez railed against the actions of the Israeli government, and during her July 13 interview on PBS’s “Firing Line” she referred to “the occupation of Palestine” and drew vague comparisons between Israel and Ferguson, Missouri. Yet, she ended her critique by uttering the following amazing five-word admission: “I am not the expert.”
Cortez was not challenged about her views by host Margaret Hoover. Rather, she was asked to “expand” on them, which she failed to do, except to offer superficial talking points. Cortez has committed the anti-Israel playbook to memory, liberally claiming “occupation” and “massacre” without comprehending what she’s spouting – hyper-partisan language which deliberately ignores facts.
All in all, the greatest problem with Cortez is not her ignorance, but her enduring stubbornness. Throughout her campaign, she could have remained quiet on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claiming lack of knowledge. She, however, did no such thing. It took an utter blunder on a major national news network for her to admit that she is not well-versed in the geopolitics of the region.
Alarmingly, Cortez is idolized by a sizable number of young Americans, and appears to be on the fast-track to become a major fixture in the Democratic party after unseating the chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Her socialist views and youth make her attractive to the up-and-coming left-wing generation of voters.
Cortez, unfortunately, is a part of a growing trend of partisanship and leftism in the Democratic party, which ultimately harms Israel. Many argue that Israel should be a partisan issue, but it is increasingly, and undeniably, becoming one. Hence, under Obama the United States-Israel relationship suffered, but when a Republican, President Trump, took office in 2017, it almost immediately blossomed again.
While there are notable exceptions to the growing cold attitude toward Israel on the left – Chuck Schumer, Jerry Nadler, and some others, for example, still strongly support Israel – Democrat politicians increasingly know what vernacular on the conflict is socially acceptable among their crowds and what isn’t. They know the talking points and key players and adhere closely to anti-Israel mantras.
Anti-Israel animus has permeated the highest ranks of the Democratic party. Bernie Sanders, for one, who is currently campaigning with Ocasio-Cortez in Kansas, took to Twitter in April to pledge his support for the Gazan protesters, disregarding the violence committed by many of them at the behest of internationally-recognized terrorist organizations. Many more examples could be adduced.
With Democrats threatening to take control of Congress in the midterm elections and potentially the presidency in 2020, it’s important to provide young voters with factual information to counter anti-Israel rhetoric.
Cortez’s PBS embarrassment was a high-profile instance of Democratic ignorance of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It should serve as a wake-up call for us to inform U.S. elected officials and political candidates of the challenges Israel faces as its neighboring countries – and even internal populations – promise and plan for its destruction.