Two U.S. military veterans say they walked out of a closed-door Bronx community meeting last week after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized President Donald Trump and blamed the U.S. for the war in Yemen.
Ocasio-Cortez held the private meeting on May 29 with about a dozen members of Community Board 11, according to the New York Post.
Silvio Mazzella, 74, a Vietnam War veteran and treasurer of Community Board 11, said he walked out of the conference, along with former chairman of the community board and Army veteran Anthony Vitaliano, 78.
“She knocks the country, she knocks the president. And that’s not what America is about,” Mazzella said.
“I just couldn’t hear her BS anymore. I just got up, got my umbrella in my hand and walked right out,” Vitaliano said.
Vitaliano said that Ocasio-Cortez had also referred to Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “two clones,” and not in a positive manner.
“There was another insult. Israel is one of our strongest allies,” Mazzella added. “To do something like that and come out with a statement like that is not, that’s not who we are.”
“It was like Netanyahu and the president are two peas in a pod,” Vitaliano continued. “They’re the same. They are no good. They are no good for the area. And that’s where we got the second part about the tension in the Middle East what’s going on. Right after this is when I left. She says that the tension is being caused by President Trump because he withdrew from the Iran deal and that is why we are having all this tension. I think she should do her homework, that tension has been going on since 1948.”
That, according to Vitaliano and Mazzella, is when they decided to walk out of the meeting.
Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesman Corbin Trent denied there was a walk-out during the conference.
“The only person that left the meeting while it was underway was someone who had to go pick up their children,” he said.
Vitaliano fired back at Trent’s claim, calling it “bullshit.”
“Everybody that was there knows I walked out,” he added.
“It was a prepared agenda for the — let’s put in this way, she is our congresswoman since January, we haven’t seen her in our area until May 28. Everybody else in the United States has seen her except her own district,” Vitaliano said, noting that the intent of the meeting was to address local issues.
But then one board member, a Yemeni immigrant who is now a U.S. citizen, brought up the civil war that is ongoing in Yemen, and Ocasio-Cortez responded, the veterans say, by blaming American actions in the area for the unrest.
“That’s what started me off. Her comment was that it’s ‘American bombs,’ ” Vitaliano said.
“That’s insulting,” Mazzella agreed.
“I heard that, ‘American bombs.’ In my head, I say to myself, ‘what about the Iranian bullets and Iranian bombs? Aren’t they killing people, too?’ ”
Mazzella argued that Ocasio-Cortez’s comments reminded him of the protests he faced when he first returned from Vietnam.
“Didn’t feel good,” he said. “It reminds me when I came home from ‘Nam and we had the protesters here. You know that’s not the way to treat people.”
Published under special arrangement with World Tribune