New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday she will engage with the Jewish community over concerns following her praise of British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn has been dogged by accusations from many British Jews and others, including lawmakers in his own party, of not doing enough to combat what prominent members of the Jewish community have said was growing and rampant anti-Semitism in the Labour party.
Some, including a former British chief rabbi, have accused him of enabling anti-Semitic elements in the party.
Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent progressive activist who calls her views “democratic socialist,” held a phone call with longtime socialist politician Corbyn on Sunday, after which Corbyn praised her on Twitter.
“Great to speak to @AOC [Ocasio-Cortez] on the phone this evening and hear first hand how she’s challenging the status quo,” he wrote. “Let’s build a movement across borders to take on the billionaires, polluters and migrant baiters, and support a happier, freer and cleaner planet.”
Great to speak to @AOC on the phone this evening and hear first hand how she’s challenging the status quo.
Let’s build a movement across borders to take on the billionaires, polluters and migrant baiters, and support a happier, freer and cleaner planet.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 3, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez was equally glowing in her public statement on Twitter on Sunday.
“It was an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation with you, @jeremycorbyn!” she posted.
“Also honored to share a great hope in the peace, prosperity, + justice that everyday people can create when we uplift one another across class, race, + identity both at home & abroad.”
It was an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation with you, @jeremycorbyn!
Also honored to share a great hope in the peace, prosperity, + justice that everyday people can create when we uplift one another across class, race, + identity both at home & abroad. https://t.co/7qnz42I8du
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 3, 2019
In response, one prominent “progressive Orthodox” Twitter user, Elad Nehorai, responded to Ocasio-Cortez with the Jewish community’s concerns.
“I’m a huge huge fan of yours. I hope you’ll take a look at the amount of Jews trying to call attention to Corbyn’s long, documented history of anti-Semitism,” Nehorai wrote.
“The left’s blind spot in this regard can still be fixed. But we need leaders like yourself to listen.”
I’m a huge huge fan of yours. I hope you’ll take a look at the amount of Jews trying to call attention to Corbyn’s long, documented history of anti-Semitism.
The left’s blind spot in this regard can still be fixed. But we need leaders like yourself to listen.
— Elad Nehorai (@PopChassid) February 4, 2019
Nehorai’s appeal was shared 2,300 times.
The appeal appeared warmly received by Ocasio-Cortez as well. She replied, “Hi @PopChassid [Nehorai] – thank you for bringing this to me. We cannot + will not move forward without deep fellowship and leadership with the Jewish community. I’ll have my team reach out.”
Last month, Ocasio-Cortez said the Jewish community needs to be protected amid its concerns about anti-Semitism coming from the White House.
About a month after her election, Ocasio-Cortez announced at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony that she is descended from Sephardic Jews who fled to Puerto Rico during the Spanish Inquisition.
It was reported Sunday that a group of centrist lawmakers in the Labour Party is planning to leave the party amid rising discontent over its leftward turn under Corbyn and its mishandling of concerns over anti-Semitism its ranks.
Since his election in 2015 to head Britain’s main opposition party, Corbyn has faced allegations that his critical attitude toward Israel and alleged tolerance of anti-Semitism have injected Jew hatred into the heart of the party.
In the 1980s, Corbyn sponsored and spoken for a group called the Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine whose official platform declared its “opposition to the Zionist state as racist, exclusivist, expansionist and a direct agency of imperialism.” A conference it held in 1984 demanded that the Labour Party’s key institutions “support the Palestinian people in their struggle for a democratic and secular state in the whole of Palestine”; materials published by the movement for the event proclaimed that it sought “to eradicate Zionism.”
In 2009 Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” and said that Hamas was working to achieve peace and justice; he subsequently apologized for the comment. In 2012 he defended an anti-Semitic mural — for which he also subsequently apologized. In 2013, he said British “Zionists” don’t understand British irony.
In 2014 he laid flowers at a cemetery where Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 are buried. Appearing at a Labour Friends of Israel reception during his party’s annual conference in 2015, soon after he had been elected Labour leader, he was heckled after giving an address during which he did not mention the word “Israel.”
In 2018 when Labour belatedly adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, Corbyn sought in vain to add a caveat that it should not be considered anti-Semitic to describe Israel and/or the circumstances of Israel’s establishment as racist.
Last month a video was discovered in which Corbyn in 2011 was filmed applauding a speaker at a conference who called for the dismantlement of Israel, which he also said “kidnapped” Judaism. The footage was taken at a pro-Palestinian conference that Corbyn attended alongside several anti-Israel activists who have been accused of anti-Semitism.
Also in January, the party readmitted a former member of parliament who was suspended last year for posting on Facebook that he no longer had “respect and empathy” for the Jewish community.