Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Perils & Pitfalls of Not Doing Your Homework

Following Israel's May 14, 60+ slaughter on the Gaza border, young US Democratic Party contender, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacted as any decent human being would, tweeting: "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."

Following her upset win in the primaries, however, Ocasio-Cortez unfortunately lost the plot in an interview with conservative Firing Line host Margaret Hoover:

MH: You, in the campaign, made one tweet... that referred to a killing by Israeli soldiers of civilians in Gaza and called it a 'massacre', which became a little bit controversial. But I haven't seen anywhere - what is your position on Israel?

AOC: Well, I believe absolutely in Israel's right to exist. I am a proponent of a two-state solution. And for me, it's not - this is not a referendum, I think on the state of Israel. For me, the lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist... if 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx - unarmed - if 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico - I just looked at that incident more through... through just, as an incident, and to me, it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores. But I am -

MH: Of course, the dynamic there in terms of geopolitics -

AOC: Of course.

MH: And the war in the Middle East is very different than people expressing their First Amendment right to protest.

AOC: Well, yes. But I also think that what people are starting to see at least [that] the occupation of Palestine is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition[s], and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.

MH: You use the term 'the occupation of Palestine'? What did you mean by that?

AOC: Oh, um [pause] I think it, what I meant is the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.

MH: Do you think you can expand on that?

AOC: Yeah, I mean, I think I'd also just [waves hands and laughs] I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. You know, for me, I'm a firm believer in finding a two-state solution on 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, and I may not use the right words [laughs] I know this is a very intense issue.

MH: That's very honest, that's very honest. It's very honest, and when you, you know, get to Washington and you're an elected member of Congress you'll have the opportunity to talk to people on all sides and visit Israel and visit the West Bank and -

AOC: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that that's one of those things that's important too is that, you know, especially with the district that I represent - I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background, and Middle Eastern politics was not exactly at my kitchen table every night. But, I also recognize that this is an intensely important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country, and I think what's at least important to communicate is that I'm willing to listen and that I'm willing to learn and evolve on this issue like I think many Americans are.

It's clear from Ocasio-Cortez's knee-jerk invocation of Israel's so-called "right to exist" that she hasn't a clue when it comes to this Zionist mantra. For someone aiming to win a place in the Zionist-controlled US Knesset Congress that's pretty damning. She should have made it her business to learn that Israel is an apartheid state built on the dispossession (1948 & 1967) and enforced exile of Palestine's indigenous Arab population, and spoken to this instead of parroting this Zionist talking point. The information is out there, she needed only to do her homework. A perusal of Sharmine Narwani's eviscerating essay, Three Magic Words, would have done the trick nicely. (See my 25/5/12 post of the same name.)

As for the "two-state solution" mantra, the absorption of a few basic facts - the inherent injustice of a Palestinian state on a mere 22% of historic Palestine; Israel's entrenched position in over 60% of the West Bank; the Likud Charter's flat rejection of a Palestinian state "west of the Jordan River" - should long ago have alerted her to the irrelevance of this tired and tatty formula.

And Ocasio-Cortez's backing away from her use of the word 'occupation' was a particularly bad move. All she had to do was remind Hoover of UNSC resolution 242 (1967), which calls on Israel to withdraw from "territories occupied in the recent conflict," and remind her that that occupation has gone on now for over 50 years.



Grappler said...

In a similar vein, MERC, the New Yorker had this recent article about Obama's "Paul to Damascus" moment:

And here is Jonathan Ofir's take-down of that article:

No politician in the West can feign ignorance of the facts in the I/P issue. But no politician can afford to take the side of justice. The analogy of the Mafia springs to mind.

MERC said...

Unlike Obama's feigned ignorance, Ocasio-Cortez's was at least honest.

Vacy said...

I am reminded of Ged Kearney's backing away from her principled stand on asylum seekers to line up with Labor's position.