Poor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The “squad” leader and enforcer, scalp hunter of pro-Israel Democrats, and vocal opponent of purely defensive systems that keep Jewish civilians alive just wants a little recognition.
No one in Congress works harder to drum up Jew-baiting at home and abroad than AOC, yet her Democratic colleague Ilhan Omar gets all the credit. It’s unjust! Sure, Omar has specifically said that Jewish money buys members of Congress and that American Jews are disloyal citizens. But Ocasio-Cortez responded as any true competitor would and got creative. After all, no one else in Congress had thought to suggest U.S. testing of chemical weapons in Puerto Rico was “practice” for Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. That was impressive one-ups-persons-ship! She’s the Dennis Miller of Father Tom Coughlins.
Now it appears she has learned her lesson. Forget dog whistles—if you want to get credit for saying something, just say it. Last night, the congresswoman tweeted straight from her wild heart:
“AIPAC endorsed scores of Jan 6th insurrectionists. They are no friend to American democracy. They are one of the more racist and bigoted PACs in Congress as well, who disproportionately target members of color. They are an extremist organization that destabilizes US democracy.”
Take that, Ilhan.
But more seriously, this is actually dangerous incitement. It came in response to AIPAC’s criticism of all ten representatives who voted against a resolution supporting Israel and condemning Hamas’s barbarism. That criticism, it should be noted, was leveled against every “no” vote—including that of the far-right Republican Rep. Thomas Massie—so AOC’s “target members of color” accusation is risible. But it’s not meant to be factual. It’s intended to set America’s ethnic and religious minorities against each other for her own amusement. Though she is from New York City, AOC was too young to enjoy the Crown Heights pogrom in 1991, and clearly feels she missed out on a formative experience.
But the riot-inducement is, amazingly, not the worst part of her tweet. The worst part is the repeated claim that AIPAC is an enemy of the state, a dangerous fifth column seeking to destroy American democracy. She is saying this while there’s a massive campaign of global violence against Jews, including in her own city.
That’s nothing new. Her attempt to tie Israel to alleged chemical testing in Vieques also came during a stretch of time when Jews were being attacked on the streets of New York and other major cities. She has also been known to fabricate supposed Israeli “attacks on al Aqsa,” a classic pogrom-starter in the region.
But we know how she feels about New York’s Jews specifically. Her fellow squadnik Jamaal Bowman’s former district included a large Jewish community. Bowman, last seen pulling a fire alarm and claiming he thought it would open a door, had come under fire by the Democratic Socialists of America for being slightly less rabidly anti-Israel than they would have preferred. AOC defended him by painting Bowman as a victim of the you-know-whos. Her colleague, she said, “has been an incredible champion [for Palestine] given the community that he’s in.”
One could go on and on (and on), but the point here is that Ocasio-Cortez had already managed an impressive list of anti-Semitic pronouncements…and still somehow was able to cross a new line last night!
The current war in Gaza may not end soon. Israel’s victory over Hamas would be America’s, too. Joe Biden is heading into his reelection year with the world ablaze and members of his own party setting fires here at home. He’s going to need to find a way to get the squad to stop playing with matches, not least because his own presidency is in the path of the flames.