US Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her past criticism of Israel to Israeli television, saying it is directed at the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not the entire country.
In comments aired by Channel 12 Tuesday evening, Ocasio-Cortetz also rejected accusations by US President Donald Trump that she discriminates against the Jewish state, saying the “cudgel of anti-Semitism” cannot be used to ward off censure of Israel, which, she said, employs “unjust and inhumane policies.”
Ocasio-Cortetz is one of four Democrat congresswomen that Trump has repeatedly cast as “anti-Israel” and “anti-Semitic.”
The four — Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — have diverse opinions about the Jewish state.
“I think that the Netanyahu administration has been pursuing a lot of extraordinarily concerning policies,” Ocasio-Cortetz told Channel 12, which questioned her about her attitudes toward Israel while the congresswoman was on the campaign trail in the Bronx over the weekend.
“To conflate an individual leader or ego with being against the entire country, I think, is a hallmark behavior of folks like our president,” Ocasio-Cortetz said. “Just like we have the ability to criticize our president without being anti-American, I believe we can criticize the policies and decisions that the administration over there is pursing without being against a country overall.”
.@aoc on Israel : "the Netanyahu administration has been pursuing a lot of extraordinarily concerning policies". Tells us her criticism is being intentionally conflated with anti-semitism. Video: pic.twitter.com/M5GqwbfjbE
— יונה לייבזון yuna leibzon (@YunaLeibzon) September 2, 2019
Ocasio-Cortetz said Trump’s allegations that she’s anti-Semitic are “done completely in bad faith. They [the US administration] can no longer use this allegation of anti-Semitism to defend their [Israel’s] unjust and inhumane policies. They can’t use this cudgel of anti-Semitism to scare people away from pointing that out.”
“What we are all united for is for a peaceful future that is just — economically just, socially just and culturally just — that provides for the civil rights and human rights of all people,” she said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ocasio-Cortetz has in the past caused controversy with her remarks about Israel or references to the Holocaust. Last month during a radio interview she agreed with her host that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is “very, very criminal and is very, very unjust.”
In June she raised a ruckus when she said detention centers holding undocumented immigrants on the southern border are “concentration camps.”
The congresswoman has also suggested in the past that cutting US aid to Israel should be a policy consideration for the administration.