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February 17, 2022 12:24 pm

The Media Hangs on AOC’s Every Word — Except When it Comes to Israel

avatar by Gidon Ben-Zvi


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questions Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on ‘Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy,’ in Washington, DC, July 10, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Erin Scott.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is a media phenomenon. She has 12.8 million Twitter followers, 1.8 million friends on Facebook, and 8.5 million followers on Instagram. Even though AOC is a relative newcomer to politics, her election to a second term in the House of Representatives was reported on around the world (see, for example, here and here). She has also appeared on the cover of numerous publications, including TIME Magazine and Vanity Fair.

And Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, has harnessed this notoriety into political power. Case in point: she raised more money for her reelection campaign than any other House Democrat — including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Yet for all the media’s focus on Ocasio-Cortez, they are looking the other way when it comes to the Congresswoman’s disconcerting views on Israel.

Several recent incidents, almost exclusively covered by Jewish news websites, have raised the question of whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a severe issue with Israel.

For example, Jewish Insider on February 14 reported that AOC described Marc Lamont Hill’s firing from CNN in 2018 — after he called for a “free Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea” in front of the United Nations — as an example of “cancel culture”:

Marc Lamont Hill was fired [from CNN] for discussing an issue with respect to Palestinians, pretty summarily. There was no discussion about it, no engagement, no thoughtful discourse over it, just pure accusation.

For the record, during his speech, Hill stated:

We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea.

In effect, Hill called for the dismantling of Israel, and his words echoed the founding charter of the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization, which is committed to the Jewish state’s destruction.

Yet while AOC’s interview was published in The New Yorker, her defense of Marc Lamont Hill was largely ignored by mainstream news organizations.

Next, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said at a rally this week in support of progressive Congressional candidates that pro-Palestinian advocates are silenced and ignored by the media:

With media, with all this stuff, Palestine is basically a banned word. It’s censored. We don’t talk about it. No one knows about it…We should be able to talk about it. And we shouldn’t allow people’s humanity to be censored.

Yet the current status of “Palestine” is not that of a sovereign state, as evidenced by Palestinian leaders who have said as much.

Ocasio-Cortez also compared the situation of Palestinians to undocumented immigrants detained on America’s southern border, saying, “I don’t believe that a child should be in a cage on our border and I don’t believe a child should be in a cage in the West Bank.”

AOC is evidently unaware of the fact that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s, which led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Ramallah — not Jerusalem — governs some 95 percent of Arabs living in the West Bank.

By getting the facts wrong, and suggesting that Israel is a human rights violator, Ocasio-Cortez is effectively minimizing the real plight of the Palestinian people at the hands of an increasingly authoritarian PA.

Then there’s the issue of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez having someone on her payroll who has repeatedly slandered Israel on social media. Hussain Altamimi joined AOC’s office in November 2021, as a legislative assistant.

In December, Altamimi targeted Israel in an Instagram story, calling the US’ key Middle Eastern ally a “racist European ethnostate,” adding: “This reveals the principle underpinning Israeli apartheid: It’s not about where you’re born. It’s about whether you’re Jewish or non-Jewish. Your ethnicity determines your rights [and] level in the racial hierarchy.”

The apartheid reference is telling, since Ocasio-Cortez in May 2021 called Israel an apartheid state in a tweet that garnered 275,000 likes — a post that some have marked as a turning point in her growing criticism of the Jewish state:

In reality, apartheid was a period of segregation and institutionalized racism in South Africa from the late 1940s through the 1990s. That construct does not remotely apply to Israel. The legal, state-sanctioned discrimination that is the very definition of apartheid is not only absent from Israel, but it is actively combated by Israel’s laws and court system. Israeli Arab politicians have called this an outright lie.

The Jewish state in fact is a country where Arabs serve as Supreme Court justices, fighter pilots, Members of Knesset, artists, athletes; everything that Israelis do.

The one notable time that AOC did not side with anti-Israel forces in Congress resulted in her apologizing for doing so. In October, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez apologized to her constituents for her decision to pull back her vote against providing $1 billion in new funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, suggesting that she had done so after being subjected to “hateful targeting” for opposing it.

Ocasio-Cortez was one of two members who voted “present” as the measure to help Israel replace missile interceptors overwhelmingly passed the House on a vote of 420 to 9. She was seen weeping on the House floor after she switched her vote from “no” to “present.”

Earlier, AOC had submitted an amendment to the annual United States defense spending bill to block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Israel. She explained in a Tweet that this was because of Israel’s “…bombing of Palestinian civilians [and] media centers.” The weapon systems in question, however, helped Israel significantly reduce civilian deaths in Gaza during May’s Hamas-initiated conflict.

Good journalism is based on an ability to discern style from substance. However, with regards to AOC, the media are failing to tell the whole story. An HonestReporting big data search found that between September 16, 2021, and February 16, 2022, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” appeared 1,550 times in articles produced by 23 major publications — including The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, CNN, and The Los Angeles Times.

That is, on average, 10 mentions per day.

In contrast, articles featuring “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” along with “Israel” appeared 86 times during the same time period.

That is, on average, 1 mention per day.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is a rising politician whose influence is growing daily. Her comments on policy issues ranging from the US economy to the Middle East carry weight. As such, leading news outlets are obligated to report on and call out her comments and actions vis a vis Israel.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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