Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Meet Dvir Sorek
Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently revealed her true feelings about Israel. During a radio interview, AOC concurred wholeheartedly with the program’s host that “what’s going on with Israel and Palestine … is very, very, criminal, and it is very, very unjust.” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that people such as Palestinians have no other option than to “riot” if they become too “marginalized.”
Shortly after AOC gave that interview, a 19-year-old Israeli named Dvir Sorek was found stabbed to death in the West Bank. Sorek (an IDF recruit) was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found. Sorek was studying at a seminary as part of a program combining Torah studies and military service. He was last seen leaving a kibbutz to buy books for his teachers.
While it’s highly unlikely that AOC has ever heard of Dvir Sorek, her words lend credence to the idea that the killing of unarmed people can be understandable, and perhaps even justified. “Once someone doesn’t have access to clean water, they have no choice but to riot, right?” Ocasio-Cortez asked during the show.
Meanwhile, the reaction of some pro-Israel advocacy groups to Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks was swift and ineffective. Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, stated that AOC’s comments come “from an intolerance of Jews and Israel that is unacceptable in the halls of Congress and in American political discourse.” Countering the outrageous statements of those who view Israel as uniquely wicked with statements expressing outrage at those statements does little to make the moral case for Israel.
Israeli leaders and the country’s supporters overseas are reluctant to assert the essential right that a sovereign nation has to defend its citizens. Instead, the government in Jerusalem repeatedly bows to international pressure to fight terrorism in a restrained, predictable manner. In the halls of the US Congress, many of Israel’s harshest critics and even some of its most vocal defenders push the Jewish state to fight the enemies at its gates in a proportional manner. While Israel should be able to respond immediately, so goes the conventional wisdom, it must only use enough force to reinstate the status quo. And, of course, some in Israel agree with this approach as well.
But such a doctrine only codifies the perpetuation of hostilities between Israel and the terrorist groups on its borders. Indeed, proportionality has greatly weakened Israel’s deterrence capability against terrorism, as former IDF Chief of Staff and leader of the Blue and White party Benny Gantz recently said.
More broadly, friends of Israel who acquiesce to waging the debate on AOC’s terms are also doing a great disservice to the many people around the world who are subjected to actual crimes against humanity.
In her radio interview, AOC mentioned these communities: “I’m talking about Latin America. I’m talking about all over the world.” But by lumping a democratic state like Israel in with some of the world’s worst human rights violators, the freshman Congresswoman is providing cover for repressive regimes to perpetrate gross human rights violations with impunity.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow travelers have wrapped the Palestinian narrative in the mantle of justice. To reclaim the moral high ground, Israel and its supporters should focus less on the proportionality of the IDF’s conduct and more on the justice of the Jewish state’s cause.
The way to defeat the Palestinian victimhood narrative that justifies terrorist attacks against Jews is for the Israeli government and its friends around the world to advocate for a more robust counter-terrorism policy. War is always a terrible last resort, yet it’s sometimes the only way to keep free countries free. As Thomas Jefferson said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
And in case AOC lost track, Dvir Sorek was a patriot. Those who ended his life were tyrants.
Gidon Ben-Zvi is an accomplished writer who left behind Hollywood starlight for Jerusalem stone.