The representative for New York’s 14th district, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC), claims to be pursuing peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, she is fomenting chaos through the fabrication and dissemination of half-truths and the promotion of ruinous policy.
The congresswoman perceives the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a simple dichotomy: the oppressed (Palestinian) versus the oppressor (Israel). That conveniently explains in her mind instances of injustice and escalations of violence. She repeatedly invokes inhumane conditions, the absence of human rights and the use of disproportional retaliatory force as evidence.
Witness her recent words about the conflict: “We must also acknowledge the asymmetry in this situation and acknowledge the most vulnerable which we have seen play out over the last several weeks of the crisis.”
To realize her perspective and label it the sine qua non for the conflict, AOC crudely and disingenuously delegitimizes Israeli actions and US-Israeli relations to advance poorly conceived policy. She indulges in the distortion of reality, false equivalences and the reckless use of language to achieve her goal.
Look how she distorts reality.
AOC attempts to delegitimize Israel by characterizing it as a discriminatory country. She reminded the House of Representatives that Israel denied Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar entrance to Palestinian territories on the basis of their Muslim identity. It is a demonstrably false statement. Tlaib and Omar were denied entrance because of their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Israel enforces the measure with supporters of BDS because Israel believes the movement seeks its destruction.
Note her employment of false equivalencies.
AOC compared the Israeli bombing of Gaza to the US bombing of Puerto Rico. The comparison is absurd and unintelligible. The use of non-populated areas on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico for US warfare training remains a flashpoint between the US and Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, it is perplexing how it equates to Israel acting in self-defense. Does she expect the Israeli government to show restraint while rockets rain down on its civilian population?
Observe her reckless use of terminology.
Human rights and their violation pervade AOC’s thinking. She attributes nearly every development to human rights, raising questions about her understanding of the term and its application. For example, she considers the Israeli bombing of Gaza a human-rights issue. Does she mean the rights of non-combatants in war? Is she employing a flawed understanding of the responsibility to protect? Under international law, the government of Gaza, Hamas, bears the responsibility of upholding the human rights of its Palestinian population. How does it become the responsibility of Israel and the United States when Hamas launches rockets?
AOC’S TACTICS of delegitimization strip meaning from terms, create an absence of standards, and promote toxic narratives. Should it be surprising that antisemitism is on the rise?
The primitive and misleading methods were intended to galvanize support for the House resolution introduced by AOC on May 19. She sought to leverage US relations with Israel to achieve a cessation in violence by preventing the sale of American-made weapons to Israel. The resolution is policy derived from incoherence, not rational thinking. The resolution thwarts prospects for peace, and increases insecurity and the likelihood of violence.
First, former president Barack Obama employed a similar policy. It failed. Relations with Israel deteriorated. The Palestinians did not negotiate. Violence continued.
Second, the resolution incentivizes Hamas to continue attacking Israel. AOC fails to recognize that Hamas retains the ability to initiate conflict. The resolution punishes Israel for defending itself. Through the use of violence, Hamas can drive a larger wedge between Israel and the United States.
Third, it is unclear how leveraging Israel at this moment creates conditions for a two-state solution. Who exactly is the Israeli negotiating partner? Palestinian leadership remains deeply divided between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Lastly, AOC cannot comprehend US-Israeli relations outside the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a myopic and destructive mentality. Israel is a critical strategic partner in the maintenance and implementation of US regional policy. Her undermining of US-Israeli relations ultimately weakens and threatens US national security. Has the congresswoman considered who will assist the US in counterterrorism in the Middle East if US-Israeli relations are undone?
The rhetoric and policy of delegitimizing Israel and US-Israeli relations is not unique to the representative of New York’s 14th district. It is metastasizing. Bernie Sanders, his handmaidens (e.g., Reps. Tlaib, Omar, and Ayanna Pressley), and his valets (e.g., Reps. Ro Khanna and Mark Pocan) indulge in it.
Ironically, the New York congresswoman who professes to speak truth to power, is abusing her power as a legislator by creating and disseminating half-truths and advancing destructive policy. Her methods are the antithesis of a peacemaker. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) is an agent of chaos.
Eric Bordenkircher, PhD, is a research fellow at UCLA’s Center for Middle East Development. His twitter handle is @UCLA_Eagle. The views represented in this piece are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of UCLA or the Center for Middle East Development.