The congresswoman said the “central issue” was that of “settlements” when asked what could be done to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known as AOC, sat down last week with a large pro-Israel group for the first time since entering Congress.
She had been criticized for ignoring requests to meet from leaders of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the New York Board of Rabbis.
She finally met virtually with the leader of one of those groups, Michael Miller, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (NJRC-NY), on April 1. In the conversation posted to YouTube, AOC attempted to explain why it had taken her so long to accept an invitation.
“I was really focused on our backyard… the actual borders of our district,” she told Miller on the NJRC-NY show “Congressional Conversations,” whose purpose is to talk to New York representatives about specific issues concerning the state’s Jewish community.
The second-term lawmaker made a point of praising her district’s Jewish neighborhood organizations that she “was very proud” to have worked with on localized issues such as food banks and different aspects of the Covid-19 crisis.
When Miller shifted the conversation to Israel since it “is a significant to a vast majority of Jewish New Yorkers,” he called it “a prickly issue” for the congresswoman. AOC is known for her highly critical attitude toward Israel.
When he asked what can be done to achieve peace with the Palestinians as well as the larger Arab world, the congresswoman answered, in part, “It’s not just about the end goal, which often gets a lot of focus… but about how we get to that.” According to the congresswoman, the “central issue” was that of “settlements,” saying that their existence was “not the way” to get to the two-state solution that she supports.
She also spoke of the importance of human rights in the process of working towards peace, and criticized Israel when addressing human rights problems in this area.
“We value the safety and the human rights” of both Israelis and Palestinians, she said, but cited only Israel for detaining Palestinian minors, comparing the jailing of teens for terrorist offenses to the U.S. incarceration of children who crossed the American border illegally from Mexico.
“The centering and the value of human rights is really, I think, the path to peace here. We have to make sure that we apply [these] principles broadly,” she said.
AOC told Miller that what motivated her progressive views in general was “a deeply moral calling” to help the world and humanity.
Asked what could be done about the troubling rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S., AOC said that the government should act against digital platforms as a main source for people learning bigotry and hatred and becoming radicalized in general. She pointed an accusing finger at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“They have algorithms that serve as actual recommendation-engines to hate groups,” she said.