Ocasio-Cortez calls AIPAC ‘racist and bigoted’ after it criticizes her Gaza stance

‘Squad’ member calls pro-Israel lobby ‘an extremist organization that destabilizes US democracy’; House rejects effort to censure Rashida Tlaib over her anti-Israel rhetoric

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York attends a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2021. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York attends a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2021. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee “an extremist organization that destabilizes US democracy” in a social media post on Tuesday night.

“AIPAC endorsed scores of Jan 6th insurrectionists,” the progressive US lawmaker, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “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.”

She concluded, “They are an extremist organization that destabilizes US democracy.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s statement was in response to a post the pro-Israel organization published Tuesday, calling her out along with other lawmakers who did not support a pro-Israel House resolution last week. Also named in the post were other members of the “Squad,” the group of progressive Democratic members of Congress, as well as Republican Rep. Thomas Massie.

The House passed the resolution on October 25 with 412 votes, as 194 Democrats and 218 Republicans voted in favor. Six lawmakers voted “present” and 10 voted against the resolution, all Democrats save for Massie. The resolution “reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense, and condemns Hamas’s brutal war against Israel.”

It also “reaffirms the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security, supports emergency resupply and certain other types of assistance to Israel, and urges full enforcement of sanctions against Iran to prevent Iran’s funding of terrorist groups.”

AIPAC, the country’s largest pro-Israel lobby and political action committee, began directly funding candidates in late 2021. It endorsed 365 candidates ahead of the 2022 election, including majorities of House Republicans and Democrats, but attracted criticism for endorsing 109 of the 147 of the Republicans who refused to affirm President Joe Biden’s election in a vote on Jan. 6, 2021. An AIPAC spokesperson said at the time that the group is a “single-issue organization” focused on support for Israel.

In response to Ocasio-Cortez, the organization posted, “AIPAC stands with pro-Israel Democrats and Republicans of all races, genders, and backgrounds who support the US-Israel alliance. And we oppose those who don’t, like you.”

Other lawmakers tagged in AIPAC’s post have also shared posts criticizing the group. Missouri Rep. Cori Bush wrote, “AIPAC’s dark money grift & anti-democracy propping up of insurrectionists are attempts to undermine the will of the people.”

In the weeks since Hamas’s October 7 invasion of Israel — in which 1,400 people were massacred, most of them civilians, and some 240 abducted — and Israel’s subsequent war against the terror group in Gaza, Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly expressed support for a ceasefire while also speaking out against antisemitism.

“Two million people. Half children. Starved. Bombed. Cut from communication,” she posted on X on October 28, regarding Gaza. “Some may dismiss a ceasefire as naïve or worse. Yet who has a plan for what follows this destruction? What do we call that?”

(Israel says its offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas’s infrastructure, and has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip. It says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates, while seeking to minimize civilian casualties. The Hamas-run health ministry has claimed more than 8,500 people have been killed in the enclave, a figure that cannot be independently verified. Hamas has been accused of artificially inflating the death toll, and it also does not distinguish between civilians and terror operatives. Some of the dead are believed to be victims of Palestinian terrorists’ own misfired rockets.)

On Monday, following reports of rising antisemitism in New York and across the country, Ocasio-Cortez posted, “Antisemitism is disgusting and unacceptable. We have a responsibility to defend our Jewish brothers, sisters, and siblings from hatred. No movement of integrity should tolerate it. Ever.”

Ocasio-Cortez also condemned the pro-Palestinian rally held on October 8 in Times Square, calling it “unacceptable and harmful.”

Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan speaks during a US House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, the US House rejected an effort to censure fellow “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, scrapping a Republican attempt to condemn the only Palestinian-American in Congress over the Democrat’s recent rhetoric around the Israel-Hamas war.

A measure to move forward with a censure resolution of Tlaib, a punishment one step below expulsion from the House, was dismissed with broad bipartisan support as both parties raised concerns about violating First Amendment rights.

A Democratic effort to in turn censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, who had sponsored the Tlaib resolution, was called off in response.

The scheduled votes were among the House’s first acts of business after a nearly monthlong gridlock caused by the removal of Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker.

Greene introduced a censure resolution last week against Tlaib, one of two Muslims in Congress. The resolution accuses Tlaib of “antisemitic activity” after she voiced concern over America’s continued role in supplying arms to Israel.

Greene also falsely accused Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” in the Capitol complex when she participated in an anti-Israel rally organized by Jewish advocacy groups last month.

Tlaib called Greene’s resolution “unhinged” and said it’s “deeply Islamophobic and attacks peaceful Jewish anti-war advocates.”

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