Given the amount of attention Ocasio-Cortez’s past pro-Palestine comments had received, her decision to walk back those positions just a few weeks after her primary win is particularly jarring.
NEW YORK – During a recent interview with PBS and just two weeks after her historic upset victory against 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemed already to be walking back from at least some of her more “radical” positions voiced prior to her Democratic primary win.
While her primary victory has certainly made the young New Yorker a new “rising star” in the Democratic Party, all the new attention seems to have come at a price, particularly as she now aims to court major Democratic Party donors as the general election approaches. Many of those donors, such as the Zionist entertainment billionaire Haim Saban, are unlikely to be supportive of her past positions on key issues, particularly her prior statements on Israel and Palestine.
Appearing on PBS’ Firing Line on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez surprised many of her supporters as she toned down statements she had made earlier this year regarding Israel, particularly Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its brutal crackdown on demonstrators in the Gaza Strip. That crackdown saw over 6,000 unarmed protesters shot by Israeli Defense Forces and hundreds killed, resulting in international condemnation.
Though she had tweeted on May 14 that the Israeli crackdown in Gaza was a “massacre,” and expressed hope that her “peers have the moral courage to call it such,” Ocasio-Cortez distanced herself from that statement during her recent PBS interview, asserting that she had made that statement as an “activist” and not as a congressional candidate for the Democratic Party.
This is a massacre.
I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such.
No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else.
Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore. https://t.co/wJGATOtDsR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) May 14, 2018
That statement alone suggests that other positions voiced by Ocasio-Cortez prior to her primary win could also be subject to revision over the next few months in the lead-up to the midterm elections in November.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to distance herself from other past statements she had made regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, including having used the term “occupation” when referring to Israel’s military rule over Palestine’s West Bank. For instance, when asked to expand on what she had meant by “the occupation of Palestine,” Ocasio-Cortez only referred to the fact that “[Israeli] settlements … are increasing in some of these areas.” When prodded further, she stated that she was “not the expert on geo-politics on this issue” and that she may not always “use the right words” when discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The 28-year-old candidate, whom PBS had introduced as “the vanguard of the American progressive movement,” also expressed during the interview that she believes “absolutely in Israel’s right to exist” and called herself a “proponent of the two-state solution.” However, given Israel’s aggressive policies aimed towards annexation of the West Bank and the U.S. government’s current support for such measures, Ocasio-Cortez’s support for the two-state solution reflects either a lack of knowledge on the subject or an unwillingness to face the fact that a two-state solution is largely impossible. Given her past statements on Palestine while still an “activist,” the latter seems to be more likely.
Indeed, prior to the PBS interview, Ocasio-Cortez had been promoted as a “pro-Palestine socialist” and had been praised by leftist pundits like Glenn Greenwald for her “moral courage” in standing up for the “human dignity” of Palestinians. Given the amount of attention her past pro-Palestine comments had received, her decision to walk back those positions just a few weeks after her primary win is particularly jarring.
Also eye-opening was the fact that Ocasio-Cortez concluded her statements on the topic by saying that she was willing to “learn and evolve on this issue.” In other words, she essentially rejected her past “activist” positions on Palestine in favor of allowing her position on the issue to “evolve” into one more acceptable to the Democratic centrists and the powerful pro-Israel elements that hold considerable sway within the Democratic party. Indeed, the pro-Israel lobby has already given over $5 million to the Democratic Party over the past year.
It remains to be seen whether Ocasio-Cortez is equally willing to renege, or rather “evolve,” on other progressive issues as the general election approaches. Yet, given that she is already walking back on her past rhetoric just a few weeks after her victory, it seems likely that Ocasio-Cortez of November could be very different in terms of policy from the Ocasio-Cortez of today.
Top Photo | Ocasio-Cortez “Evolves” Her Position on Palestine
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.