New generation of Democrats not fans of Israel

AOC, a leading ultra-progressive, critiques the Gaza war and US aid to Israel; dismissing her overlooks the new generation she represents with distinct views on Israel

On Sunday, October 8, when many parts of Gaza were still under the control of Hamas militants, a massive protest was held in Times Square, which turned out to be the first major demonstration against Israel in the U.S. and Western countries. The protest, supported by an organization called DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), one of the most extreme left-wing movements in the U.S., attracted around a thousand participants.
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Some justified the Hamas attack with signs like "Resist in every way," while others defiled Israeli flags. Amidst widespread condemnations, one stood out. "The things seen at this protest are not acceptable in any way, and it should not be difficult to condemn hate and anti-Semitism when we see them," wrote Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This was a surprising response, especially since DSA received its initial publicity in 2018 when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known as AOC, became the driving force behind it, stunning everyone when she won elections in the Bronx at the age of 29.
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
(Photo: Bryan Woolston)
Much has happened in the past five years. One thing is that AOC is no longer left enough for an organization like DSA. The other is that she has become a powerful voice on foreign policy issues, especially in the Middle East. In one of her first interviews after the 2018 victory, AOC said she did not know enough about the subject to express an opinion.
Still, in the past two years, long before October 7, she entered a significant vacuum in the Democratic Party: a clear pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel stance. It is still a minority view among Democratic elected officials, but it is no longer a minority view among Democratic voters. Just as Sarah Palin's nomination as John McCain's vice president paved the way for Donald Trump in 2016, AOC's central position today needs to prepare Israel for a situation where the next Democratic president will be much closer to her than to Joe Biden.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, although the most famous figure in the small ultra-progressive group known as The Squad within the House of Representatives, has set herself apart from her colleagues. Her years in Congress have demonstrated her understanding of politics, and she has learned to compromise in a way that occasionally incites anger from the far left.
Unlike Rashida Tlaib, for example, you won't catch her tweeting slogans like "from the river to the sea." When she called for a ceasefire in the early weeks of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she faced criticism from the White House. However, unlike many on the extreme left, she avoids using the term "genocide" in her criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza. She has met with families of kidnapped soldiers in Washington and supports a two-state solution, a view that is almost considered right-wing by some on the left who pushed her into Congress.
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אוקאסיו קורטז
אוקאסיו קורטז
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
(Photo: AP)
In recent months, AOC has taken a more explicit stance, even apologizing for her avoidance of the events of October 7. She opposed several symbolic House resolutions expressing full support for Israel when and said she won't agree to support what essentially dictates that any opposition to Zionism, Israeli government policy, or Netanyahu's extremism is antisemitic. Congressional members note that she tirelessly pressures hundreds of colleagues in both houses to prevent the unconditional continuation of military aid to Israel.
Things reached a peak last Christmas when she posted comparing Jesus to Palestinians. AOC drew parallels between Jesus’ persecutors and present-day Israel, and wrote that Jesus was born in “modern-day Palestine” under a government carrying out “a massacre of innocents.” According to the New Testament, Jesus was a Jew who lived within the modern borders of Israel and was killed by the Roman forces ruling the territory at the time.
“He was part of a targeted population being indiscriminately killed to protect an unjust leader’s power,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “Thousands of years later, right-wing forces are violently occupying Bethlehem as similar stories unfold for today’s Palestinians.” In the post, Ocasio-Cortez completely ignored Hamas, the October 7 attack, and the kidnapped soldiers, receiving severe backlash on social media.
It's easy to get upset and dismiss AOC's positions, but it's more effective to understand that she represents a generation with vastly different views on Israel. Unlike her parents and grandparents, who witnessed the establishment of Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust, this generation grew up with Israel already a military power, and its policies have been a source of significant debate.
Even those who claim in polls to fully support Israel in its conflicts with Gaza often believe that the U.S. shouldn't continue funding the IDF's operations. AOC's perspective reflects a broader shift in attitudes toward Israel, shaped by a different historical context and a desire for a reevaluation of U.S. support.
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