A #throw­back to the time when out­posts were il­le­gal

Jerusalem Post - - FRONTLINES - • By CHARLES DUNST

NEW YORK (JTA) – Af­ter Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez shocked the po­lit­i­cal world by de­feat­ing long­time New York Rep. Joseph Crow­ley in a Demo­cratic pri­mary last month, Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee chair­man Tom Perez quickly aligned him­self with the for­mer po­lit­i­cal out­sider, say­ing on a ra­dio show that “she rep­re­sents the fu­ture of our party.”

If so, that fu­ture ap­pears to in­clude the kind of sharp crit­i­cism of Is­rael once con­sid­ered taboo in both ma­jor par­ties.

Oca­sio-Cortez ran on a plat­form of Medi­care for all, fully funded pub­lic schools and a univer­sal jobs guar­an­tee. But she has also been crit­i­cal of Is­rael, calling its mil­i­tary’s killing of Pales­tinian pro­test­ers in May a “mas­sacre.”

The Demo­cratic So­cial­ists of Amer­ica, of which Oca­sio-Cortez is a mem­ber, sup­ports the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions move­ment against Is­rael. Oca­sio-Cortez has re­mained silent on the is­sue.

In Min­nesota, Demo­cratic con­gres­sional can­di­date Il­han Omar calls her­self an “in­ter­sec­tional fem­i­nist” and Is­rael an apartheid regime. In Vir­ginia’s 5th Con­gres­sional District, Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Les­lie Cock­burn is the co-au­thor, along with her hus­band, of Dan­ger­ous Li­ai­son: The In­side Story of the US-Is­raeli Covert Re­la­tion­ship, a scathing 1991 at­tack on the Jewish state.

“It seems to me that some crit­i­cism of Is­rael is part of a pack­age among young pro­gres­sives along with health­care for all and jobs for all,” Demo­cratic strate­gist Brad Ban­non told Newsweek.

That puts Democrats who are both lib­eral and pro-Is­rael in a bind. Whether the re­sult of “in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity,” which links Is­rael’s treat­ment of the Pales­tini­ans to other left­wing causes, or a will­ing­ness to call out its right-wing govern­ment, pro­gres­sive ALEXAN­DRIA OCA­SIO-CORTEZ marches dur­ing the Bronx’s pride pa­rade last month. crit­i­cism of Is­rael may make for some hard choices come Elec­tion Day.

Ac­cord­ing to a Pew Re­search Cen­ter sur­vey, the per­cent­age of Democrats say­ing they sym­pa­thize more with Is­rael than the Pales­tini­ans has de­clined from 38% in 2001 to 27% in 2018 – the low­est level of sup­port on record. Sup­port for Is­rael fur­ther de­creased among self-iden­ti­fied “lib­eral” Democrats from 48% in 2001 to 19% in 2018. In the same time pe­riod, their sup­port for Pales­tini­ans rose from 18% to 35%.

Al­though the Pew sur­vey re­ceived notable crit­i­cism, the gen­eral trends it notes have been shown else­where.

Some credit Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Ver­mont) with nor­mal­iz­ing such crit­i­cism of Is­rael. While the 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date de­fined him­self as “100% pro-Is­rael,” he re­cently called on the US to adopt a more bal­anced pol­icy to­ward Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans. In late March, San­ders’s of­fice posted three videos to so­cial me­dia harshly crit­i­ciz­ing Is­rael for what he deemed its ex­ces­sive use of force in Gaza, and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for not in­ter­ven­ing dur­ing the bor­der clashes.

Last year, Perez ap­pointed as his DNC deputy Rep. Keith El­li­son of Min­nesota, who, in ad­di­tion to be­ing dogged by ties to the an­tisemitic Na­tion of Is­lam leader Louis Far­rakhan, im­plied that US for­eign pol­icy in the Mid­dle East is “gov­erned” by con­sid­er­a­tions of what is good or bad for Is­rael. (El­li­son, who was the first Mus­lim elected to Con­gress, is run­ning for at­tor­ney-gen­eral in Min­nesota and is not seek­ing re­elec­tion. Omar is seek­ing his seat.)

Left-wing ac­tivists have also drawn Demo­cratic politi­cians into Is­rael con­tro­ver­sies. Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York, a po­ten­tial 2020 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who has re­cently tacked left, penned a glow­ing Time mag­a­zine write-up of con­tro­ver­sial pro­gres­sive hero­ines and Women’s March lead­ers Tamika Mal­lory and Linda Sar­sour. Mal­lory, in a non-apol­ogy steeped in in­ter­sec­tional pro­gres­sive ter­mi­nol­ogy, has since de­fended her own re­la­tion­ship with Far­rakhan fol­low­ing his re­cent an­tisemitic rants. Sar­sour, who ar­gued that Zion­ism and fem­i­nism are in­com­pat­i­ble, is a prom­i­nent sup­porter of BDS.

“There’s a lot of ev­i­dence that defin­ing lib­er­al­ism through an in­ter­sec­tional lens has had the ef­fect of cast­ing Is­rael as an ‘op­pres­sor’ and thus a na­tion wor­thy of con­dem­na­tion, even as its ac­tual poli­cies on is­sues as­so­ci­ated with in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity are in­fin­itely bet­ter than those of its neigh­bors,” KC John­son, a his­tory pro­fes­sor at Brook­lyn Col­lege, for­mer Ful­bright in­struc­tor at Tel Aviv Uni­ver­sity and reg­u­lar Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­u­tor, told JTA in an email in­ter­view.

The Repub­li­can Jewish Coali­tion is ex­pected to make the rise of the Demo­cratic Left a tar­get of its ac­tivism. It al­ready has run ads in a Philadel­phia-area con­gres­sional district where the Demo­cratic can­di­date, Scott Wal­lace, faced heat af­ter a char­ity he runs was shown to have given to anti-Is­rael groups. (He said he wasn’t aware and is pro-Is­rael.)

RJC spokesman Neil Strauss told JTA that anti-Is­rael rhetoric has be­come main­stream in Demo­cratic pol­i­tics and is a means of se­cur­ing left-wing sup­port.

“Democrats run­ning in com­pet­i­tive pri­maries, some in swing dis­tricts, are get­ting

(David ‘Dee’ Del­gado/Reuters)

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