Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may not be the sharpest thorn in the bush, but she has taught an important lesson for American Jews. Whether they learned it is doubtful.
The congresswoman, who once admitted that she was “not an expert on the geopolitics” of the region (translation: knows absolutely nothing about it), was invited by Americans for Peace Now (APN) to an event commemorating Yitzhak Rabin on the 25th anniversary of his assassination. But after an anti-Israel reporter tweeted to her that Rabin had brutally suppressed the First Intifada and that the Oslo Accords that Rabin signed “gave Israel cover to build more settlements,” she responded that she would rethink the invitation. And shortly thereafter, her office announced that she would not participate.
APN is a sister-group of the European-funded Israeli NGO Peace Now. Its focus is on “ending the occupation” and implementing a two-state solution. Its president, former J Street functionary Hadar Susskind, is too smart to explicitly oppose the recent normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, but he makes it clear that he believes “Israel’s existential problem [is] its conflict with the Palestinians and the occupation that does so much damage,” and adds that “Normalization with the Arab world is welcome, but not as a tool to normalize the occupation and the conflict with the Palestinians.” Not explicitly misozionist like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) or IfNotNow, APN nevertheless calls for policies that if implemented would imperil the security of the state.
The Israeli left, its cooperative media, and organizations like APN have pushed the narrative that Rabin was a peacemaker who favored a sovereign Palestinian state and a withdrawal from most of the areas liberated in 1967. They tell us that he courageously signed the Oslo agreements in 1993-4, and would have seen the process through to a successful completion if his life had not been cut short by a right-wing extremist in 1995. This is far from the truth.
Yitzhak Rabin was a dedicated Zionist who devoted his life to public service, and while he was closely associated with the socialist founders of the state, he was anything but a “peacenik.” Arguably he went into the Oslo process with great misgivings, after Shimon Peres and the other “architects of Oslo” presented him with a fait accompli. He did not favor a sovereign Palestinian state, only “something less,” and he wanted to hold on to key strategic territory in the Jordan Valley and the high ground of Judea and Samaria. He wanted a unified Jerusalem under Jewish control. Nevertheless, I think that if the Palestinians had held up their end of the bargain, he would have been prepared to compromise with them. But as everyone knows, they returned terrorism for every concession.
Rabin was succeeded as PM by a real peacenik, Shimon Peres. But Israeli voters replaced him with Binyamin Netanyahu in 1996, because sharply escalating terrorism quickly convinced them that concessions to the Palestinians were not the way to obtain security. In 1999, Netanyahu gave way to Ehud Barak, whose attempts to implement a two-state-solution were met with the bloody Second Intifada. That seems to have been enough for most Israelis, but Peace Now and its American counterpart continue to complain that if only Israel would give in to Palestinian demands, peace would be at hand.
Rabin’s image among liberal American Jews has been that of the heroic peacemaker. But recently a more extreme current of misozionist sentiment has pushed traditional Jewish liberalism aside, with groups that support BDS and one state, like JVP, IfNotNow, and even Students for Justice in Palestine, capturing the attention of younger Jews in place of J Street and APN. Their explicitly anti-Israel positions are shared by intersectional groups like BLM.
The online journalist who sent the tweet that caused Ocasio-Cortez to drop out of the Rabin event, Alex B. Kane, represents this stream. He was at one point an editor at Mondoweiss, a site that is a sewer of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish writing. Kane is now a contributing writer to Jewish Currents (edited by Peter Beinart), the new flagship publication of the misozionist movement among American Jews.
Ocasio-Cortez simply made a mistake when she agreed to appear at the APN Rabin affair. Her Jewish supporters are clearly in the progressive, intersectionalist camp with Kane and Beinart, IfNotNow and JVP, and not with the liberals of APN or J Street (the geriatric boomers of AIPAC are not even in the running). When her mistake was pointed out to her, she jumped to where she – a leader of the progressive Left – knew that she belonged.
I have often criticized the “liberal” groups on the grounds that their proposed two-state solution is not compatible with Israel’s security. But many of their supporters do believe in a Jewish state and disagree with me about the intentions of the Palestinian leadership, the possible effectiveness of technical safeguards, the demographic threat from the Arab population, and so on. I think they are wrong, but not all of them are anti-Israel. On the other hand, most of the progressive groups and individuals are not even trying to hide their desire to see the Jewish state replaced by an Arab state.
I said before that AOC taught a lesson that American Jews should learn, and it’s this:
The progressive Left is not on your side, even if you are a died-in-the-wool two-stater, even if you dislike our Prime Minister, or even if you hate “settlements.” These people do not want to end the conflict; they would not be satisfied if Netanyahu quit, and a two-state division along the Green Line wouldn’t be enough for them. They want to see the PLO/Hamas win and the Jews lose.
This would be terrible for the 7 million Jews of Israel, who would face death or dispersal if the objectives of these people were achieved. But even if you can’t get excited by that, do you want a world where you, personally, as a Jew, have no place to go?
A few years ago the idea that American Jews might need a place of refuge was ludicrous. Is it still so unlikely?