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Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a media phenomenon

Rashida Tlaib, Mahmoud Abbas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Opinion

Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a media phenomenon

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a media phenomenon. She has 12.8 million Twitter followers, 1.8 million friends on Facebook, and 8.5 million followers on Instagram. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the former bartender who somehow managed to be elected a member of Congress in 2018, and then to be re-elected in 2020, is an original member of “the Squad,” a group of four “progressive Congresswomen” that includes two virulently anti-Israel Muslims, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Presley (D-Harvard and Nubian Squares).

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She has come very far very fast. More on AOC, and her palpable want of sympathy for, and misunderstanding of, Israel, is discussed here: “The Media Hangs on AOC’s Every Word — Except When it Comes to Israel,” by Gidon Ben-Zvi, Algemeiner, February 17, 2022:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is a media phenomenon. She has 12.8 million Twitter followers, 1.8 million friends on Facebook, and 8.5 million followers on Instagram. Even though AOC is a relative newcomer to politics, her election to a second term in the House of Representatives was reported on around the world (see, for example, here and here). She has also appeared on the cover of numerous publications, including TIME Magazine and Vanity Fair.

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With those millions of friends and followers who need to be fed their daily dose or panem quotidianum of tweets, Instagram entries, and Facebook posts, this ex-barkeep keeps so very busy that she can hardly be blamed if she has no time to burn the midnight oil in order to study the Mandate for Palestine, the Treaty of San Remo, Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, and U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, and so very much more. Her life has become one of constant hectic vacancy as our giddy globe turns, so how can she possibly sit quietly and study the competing claims of Israel and the Palestinians? How much easier, instead, simply to go along with her fellow squadrettes, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and others of that “progressive” ilk who support BDS and routinely denounce the Jewish state.

And Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, has harnessed this notoriety into political power. Case in point: she raised more money for her reelection campaign than any other House Democrat — including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Yet for all the media’s focus on Ocasio-Cortez, they are looking the other way when it comes to the Congresswoman’s disconcerting views on Israel.

Several recent incidents, almost exclusively covered by Jewish news websites, have raised the question of whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a severe issue with Israel.

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Asked and answered. AOC has a very big problem with Israel. She can’t stand the Jewish state. Israelis are white and therefore oppressors, Palestinians are brown and therefore oppressed.

For example, Jewish Insider on February 14 reported that AOC described Marc Lamont Hill’s firing from CNN in 2018 — after he called for a “free Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea” in front of the United Nations — as an example of “cancel culture”:

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Here is AOC:

Marc Lamont Hill was fired [from CNN] for discussing an issue with respect to Palestinians, pretty summarily. There was no discussion about it, no engagement, no thoughtful discourse over it, just pure accusation.

What a spectacle: AOC huffing and puffing about the need for “thoughtful discourse.” When has she ever engaged in “thoughtful discourse” about Israel? This was a cut-and-dried example of Hill’s eliminationist rhetoric. And the “pure accusation” AOC mentions came from the man she was defending, Marc Lamont Hill.

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For the record, during his speech, Hill stated:

We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea.

In effect, Hill called for the dismantling of Israel, and his words echoed the founding charter of the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization, which is committed to the Jewish state’s destruction.

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Marc Lamont Hill did not criticize this or that policy of Israel. He called for a free Palestine “from the river to the sea,” which is another way of calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. And AOC was outraged that he lost his CNN gig as a result. She found nothing wrong with his remark; she defended the indefensible.

Yet while AOC’s interview was published in The New Yorker, her defense of Marc Lamont Hill was largely ignored by mainstream news organizations.

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Next, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said at a rally this week in support of progressive Congressional candidates that pro-Palestinian advocates are silenced and ignored by the media:

With media, with all this stuff, Palestine is basically a banned word. It’s censored. We don’t talk about it. No one knows about it…We should be able to talk about it. And we shouldn’t allow people’s humanity to be censored.

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AOC says that “Palestine is basically a banned word. It’s censored. We don’t talk about it.” Let’s see. When I do an Internet search for “Palestine,” I come up with 233 million separate appearances. When I search for the word “Palestinians,” I get 999,000,000 results. By comparison, the word “Israelis” gives 233,000,000 results, less than a quarter of the number for “Palestinians.” The Palestinians and “Palestine” are constantly being discussed in the press, on television news programs, at the U.N., on social media. No “people” have had so much sympathetic attention focused on their supposed “plight,” no people have received as much international aid. Yet AOC claims in defiance of all the evidence, that “with media, with all this stuff, Palestine is basically a banned word. It’s censored. We don’t talk about it. No one knows about it.”

Ocasio-Cortez also compared the situation of Palestinians to undocumented immigrants detained on America’s southern border, saying, “I don’t believe that a child should be in a cage on our border and I don’t believe a child should be in a cage in the West Bank.”

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Has Israel put a single child “in a cage in the West Bank”? No one has ever heard of such a thing. Not even the most duplicitous of Palestinian propagandists has suggested what AOC is now claiming as fact. She must be asked to produce the evidence to support such a bizarre charge.

AOC is evidently unaware of the fact that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s, which led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Ramallah — not Jerusalem — governs some 95 percent of Arabs living in the West Bank.

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By getting the facts wrong, and suggesting that Israel is a human rights violator, Ocasio-Cortez is effectively minimizing the real plight of the Palestinian people at the hands of an increasingly authoritarian PA.

No doubt AOC hasn’t noticed that the PA is run by Mahmoud Abbas, a grasping and corrupt despot who is now entering the seventeenth year of his four-year term. Abbas has managed to amass, with his sons Tarek and Yasser, a family fortune of some $400 million. He has also spread lesser amounts of largesse –in the million-dollar range — among his most trusted and loyal henchmen. Furthermore, he has provided well-paid sinecures in the P.A. bureaucracy to hundreds of the relatives of his loyalists. He first announced at the beginning of 2021 that the P.A. would be holding both parliamentary and presidential elections later in the year. But a few months later he cancelled those same elections, having realized, based on a poll, that he would be roundly defeated by any rival. He blamed Israel for the cancellation, claiming that the Jewish state would not let Palestinians in east Jerusalem to vote. Israel promptly contradicted him, saying it had no objections to Palestinians in east Jerusalem voting, as long as they did so just outside the city limits. Abbas has been quick to suppress any signs of discontent. This past June, he silenced his most effective critic, Nizar Banat, by having his goons seize and then beat him to death. More than 81% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign. But none of this matters to AOC; for her, Israel alone is to blame for the “plight of the Palestinians.”

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Then there’s the issue of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez having someone on her payroll who has repeatedly slandered Israel on social media. Hussain Altamimi joined AOC’s office in November 2021, as a legislative assistant.

In December, Altamimi targeted Israel in an Instagram story, calling the US’ key Middle Eastern ally a “racist European ethnostate,” adding: “This reveals the principle underpinning Israeli apartheid: It’s not about where you’re born. It’s about whether you’re Jewish or non-Jewish. Your ethnicity determines your rights [and] level in the racial hierarchy.”

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The apartheid reference is telling, since Ocasio-Cortez in May 2021 called Israel an apartheid state in a tweet that garnered 275,000 likes — a post that some have marked as a turning point in her growing criticism of the Jewish state:

In reality, apartheid was a period of segregation and institutionalized racism in South Africa from the late 1940s through the 1990s. That construct does not remotely apply to Israel. The legal, state-sanctioned discrimination that is the very definition of apartheid is not only absent from Israel, but it is actively combated by Israel’s laws and court system. Israeli Arab politicians have called this an outright lie.

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The Jewish state in fact is a country where Arabs serve as Supreme Court justices, fighter pilots, Members of Knesset, artists, athletes; everything that Israelis do.

Let’s lengthen that list before sending it on to AOC. Arabs serve not only as MKs and Supreme Court judges, but as diplomats, too. They are in the Cabinet. The Arab party Ra’am is a critical part of the coalition government. Israeli Arabs are business leaders; the chairman of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs study together in universities, where both Jews and Arabs serve on the faculty. Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses work together to treat patients, Jewish and Arab, without distinction. Jews and Arabs play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras. An Arab is the captain of Israel’s national soccer team. Jews and Arab actors appear in the same movies and television series. There is only one thing to distinguish the treatment of Jews and Arabs: Jews must, while Arabs may, serve in the IDF. Let’s hope that this information gets to AOC, lest she continue to embarrass herself with claims about Israeli “apartheid.”

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The one notable time that AOC did not side with anti-Israel forces in Congress resulted in her apologizing for doing so. In October, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez apologized to her constituents for her decision to pull back her vote against providing $1 billion in new funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, suggesting that she had done so after being subjected to “hateful targeting” for opposing it.

Ocasio-Cortez was one of two members who voted “present” as the measure to help Israel replace missile interceptors overwhelmingly passed the House on a vote of 420 to 9. She was seen weeping on the House floor after she switched her vote from “no” to “present.”

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She was weeping because she had not opposed with a “No,” but only with a Laodicean “present” the vote on a bill to help Israel replenish its supply of Iron Dome missiles. And she felt bad for not having been sufficiently anti-Israel. She appears not to understand that the Iron Dome is a purely defensive weapon; it saves both Israeli and Palestinian lives. Israeli lives are saved when Hamas missiles are intercepted; Palestinian lives are saved because, if Iron Dome were not available to prevent those missiles from landing and killing Israeli civilians, the IDF’s response would be far more devastating, and many more Palestinians would die.

Earlier, AOC had submitted an amendment to the annual United States defense spending bill to block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Israel. She explained in a Tweet that this was because of Israel’s “…bombing of Palestinian civilians [and] media centers.” The weapon systems in question, however, helped Israel significantly reduce civilian deaths in Gaza during May’s Hamas-initiated conflict.

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The IDF makes every effort to minimize civilian casualties. It does not deliberately “bomb Palestinian civilians,” but rather, tries to take out those places where Hamas hides weapons, fighters, and rocket launchers. These are deliberately placed in civilian areas by Hamas. The IDF warns civilians to leave buildings it has targeted, using emails, telephoning, leafletting, and the “knock-on-the-roof” technique. AOC also seems to think that the IDF hits “media centers.” This is. a reference to the Al-Jalaa building, which contained offices of the AP. But it also housed a key Hamas research-and-intelligence center, which was being used to develop new capabilities that would disrupt the Iron Dome missile defense system. That was the target. The IDF gave an hour’s warning to everyone in the building, including the members of Hamas.

Good journalism is based on an ability to discern style from substance. However, with regards to AOC, the media are failing to tell the whole story. An HonestReporting big data search found that between September 16, 2021, and February 16, 2022, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” appeared 1,550 times in articles produced by 23 major publications — including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, BBC, CNN, and The Los Angeles Times.

That is, on average, 10 mentions per day.

In contrast, articles featuring “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” along with “Israel” appeared 86 times during the same time period.

That is, on average, 1 mention per day.…

But because AOC’s comments about Israel are so inflammatory, and at the same time so ignorant, the world’s media have decided to protect her, by minimizing, and even at times not reporting at all, her statements about Israel. Perhaps, after her latest embrace of Amnesty International’s charge that Israel is an “apartheid” state, and her preposterous claim that “no one pays any attention to “Palestine” and “Palestinians,” more attention will be paid to AOC herseIf, and her long record of calumniating the Jewish state. Isn’t it time to take to task this supremely confident but ignorant woman, lest she ride to victory in a future Senate race, propelled by her 12.8 million Twitter followers, 1.8 million friends on Facebook, and 8.5 million followers on Instagram?

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Blitz’s Editorial Board is responsible for the stories published under this byline. This includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on BLiTZ

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