Anti-Israel, pro-BDS candidates are the future in a radicalized Democratic Party
As published in the The Hill
In her first campaign, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28 year-old “Democratic” socialist, toppled 10-term Democratic powerbroker Joe Crowley in a June primary race in New York’s 14th District. Responding to this major political upset, progressive Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez dubbed her the “future of our party.” The press agrees, calling her the “new face” of the Democratic Party.
Backed by the Democratic Socialists of America, she touts their agenda — abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and promote universal health care, affordable housing and free college tuition — part of their “statism” agenda, packaged as do-goodery. On DSA’s support for the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement against Israel, she coyly has "no comment…at this time." Don’t be fooled. She’s seen as the embodiment of the Democrats’ shift away from the Jewish state.
Ocasio-Cortez vilifies Israel, labeling the Israeli army’s defensive actions on the Gaza border “a massacre.” Using the intersectionality meme, she equates Palestinian Gazans and Ferguson blacks as victims of similar oppression. Israelis are demonized as Western colonialist victimizers and Jews are portrayed as “white privileged.”
Bernie Sanders’ strong 2016 presidential run exemplified the growing far-left movement in the Democratic Party. Now he’s teamed up with Ocasio-Cortez to support progressive candidates.
Sanders’ views on Israel dovetail nicely with those of Ocasio-Cortez. Remember, he wanted the 2016 Democratic platform to explicitly describe Israel as an occupier and omit any condemnation of BDS. One of Sanders’ platform committee representatives was BDS supporter Cornel West who wrote that the crimes of Hamas “pale in the face of the US supported Israeli slaughters of innocent civilians.”
In April, Sanders condemned the Israeli response to the 2018 border attacks by Hamas saying, “I understand that (Israel) is trying to make this all about Hamas in order to delegitimize any opposition to the blockade and the occupation.” Last year, he applauded the Obama administration’s tacit support for U.N. Security Council resolution 2334 which declared that the West Bank, including the Western Wall, belongs to the Palestinians.
The Democratic left is helping to mainstream vilifying the Jewish state within the party. The open association of the Congressional Black Caucus and the leadership of the Women’s March with Louis Farrakhan is well known.
Perez, who made a name for himself fighting for illegal immigrants, and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), known for his activism in radical African-American and Islamic circles, vied for the DNC chairmanship in 2017. Perez barely won and quickly named Ellison his deputy. Both are cut from the same progressive cloth.
The progressive left is gaining ground in the party and young radicals like Ocasio-Cortez can’t wait for establishment Democrats to retire or lose elections. Only 19 percent of progressive Democrats today favor Israel, according to a January 2018 Pew poll.
Currently, only former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) seems concerned enough with the leftward march of his party to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that Ocasio-Cortez’s foreign policy is “from the DSA policy book – meaning... reflexive criticism of one of America’s great democratic allies (Israel).” Self-professed Israel supporter and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) remains silent.
When the party embraces Linda Sarsour, it appears that the Democratic Party will move further into the Palestinian camp, nominating many more anti-Israel, pro- BDS candidates in the near future.
The more moderate, traditionally pro-Israel elements in the Democratic Party are capitulating to an increasingly vocal and influential radical left characterizing Jews as a cabal manipulating American foreign policy. “That country (Israel) has mobilized its Diaspora in America to do its bidding in America,” said DNC deputy chair Keith Ellison.
The Ocasio-Cortez victory is another indication of the continuing radicalization of the Democratic Party. Democratic strategist Brad Bannon observes, “Criticism of Israel is part of a package among young progressives along with health care for all and jobs for all….Not too long ago, if a politician expressed sympathy for the Palestinians, they would be cooked. But hardcore Berniecrats are changing all of this.”