Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez marches during the Bronx's pride parade in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 17, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive Democrat who won an upset in the New York congressional primaries in June, raised controversy when she struggled to specify a definition of the "Israeli occupation of Palestine" during an interview on PBS's talk show The Firing Line.
During the extensive interview, Ocasio-Cortez discussed her stances on a variety of issues, including education reform, the future of democratic socialism, immigration reform, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Toward the end of the interview, host Margaret Hoover turned to the politician's foreign policy positions, referring to a controversial tweet she made during her campaign bid, and asking her what her position on Israel is.
Ocasio-Cortez began by stating that she "believes absolutely in Israel's right to exist" and that she is a proponent of the two-state solution.
When pressed further, she elaborated: "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."
Hoover then asked: "You use the term 'the occupation of Palestine'. What do you mean by that?"
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In response, Ocasio-Cortez exclaimed "Oh!", paused, and said "I think that what I meant is the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas, in places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes."
The interviewer continued to press her for clarification, at which point Ocasio-Cortez somewhat deflected the request, stating that she is "not the expert on geopolitics on this issue."
"For me, I'm a firm believer in finding a two-state solution in this issue, and I'm happy to sit down with leaders on both of these. For me, I just look at things through a human rights lens."
She concluded by saying that with her background, Middle Eastern politics were not exactly at her kitchen table every night, but that she does recognize it is "a very important issue" and she is willing to listen, learn, and evolve on the issue.
Ocasio-Cortez has previously vocalized her support for the Palestinian cause via social media. In a tweet she wrote during her campaign, which Hoover referenced, the candidate characterized the killing of over 60 Palestinians in Gaza border clashes with Israeli forces as a massacre, and demanded congressional attention.
Ocasio-Cortez, 28, is a former organizer for Senator Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. If elected, she would be the youngest woman ever to serve in congress.
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