By Gidon Ben Zvi
Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently revealed her true feelings about Israel. During the radio interview on the 30 July on the “Ebro in the Morning” show based in New York, AOC concurred wholeheartedly with the program’s host that:
“…what’s going on with Israel and Palestine…is very, very, criminal, and it is very, very unjust.”
A few days following this interview where AOC added that Palestinians “have no choice” but to “RIOT” because they are “marginalized” by Israel, an 18-year-old yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier named Dvir Sorek was found stabbed to death near Kibbutz Migdal Oz in the West Bank. Sorek was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found. Sorek was studying at a seminary as part of a program combining Torah studies and military service. He was last seen leaving Migdal Oz to buy books for his teachers.
While it’s highly unlikely that AOC has ever heard of Dvir Sorek, her words, coming as they do from an American Congresswoman carry extra weight and the danger of lending credence to the idea that attacking unarmed Israelis out of a feeling of being “marginalized” isn’t only understandable but justified.
“Once someone doesn’t have access to clean water, they have no choice but to riot, right?” Ocasio-Cortez rhetorically asked during the morning radio show.
By selectively overlooking horrific crimes if they’re perpetrated in the name of a fashionable cause, AOC is shaping up to be a 2019 version of the “useful idiot”, a term attributed to Vladimir Lenin, but crept into the political jargon of describing someone propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals.
Meanwhile, the reaction of pro-Israel advocacy groups to Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks was swift and ineffective. Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, stated that AOC’s comments come, “…from an intolerance of Jews and Israel that is unacceptable in the halls of Congress and in American political discourse.” Countering the outrageous statements of those who view Israel as uniquely wicked with statements expressing outrage at those statements does little if anything to make the moral case for Israel.
The way to defeat the Palestinian victimhood narrative that justifies terrorist attacks against Jews is for the Israeli government and its friends around the world to advocate for a more robust counter-terrorism policy. Once the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is made to understand that its very survival depends on making compromises with Israel, a practical prospect for peace will become much more likely.
But for too long successive Israeli governments have bowed to international pressure to fight terrorism in a restrained, predictable manner. In the halls of the US Congress many of Israel’s harshest critics and even some of its erstwhile supporters repeatedly push Israel to fight the enemies at its gate in a proportional manner. While Israel should be able to respond immediately, so goes the conventional wisdom, it must only use enough force to reinstate the status quo.
Such a doctrine only codifies the perpetuation of hostilities between Israel and the terrorist groups at its borders. Indeed, proportionality has greatly weakened Israel’s deterrence capability against terrorism, according to former IDF Chief of Staff and leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz.
More broadly, friends of Israel who acquiesce to the country being held to such an unrealistic standard of conduct are also doing a great disservice to the many people around the world who are subjected to far greater crimes against humanity. In her radio interview AOC mentioned these communities: “…I’m talking about Latin America. I’m talking about all over the world.” But by lumping a democratic state like Israel in with some of the world’s worst human rights violators, the freshman Congresswoman is effectively providing cover for repressive regimes to perpetrate gross human rights violations with impunity.
A “useful idiot” indeed.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow travelers have effectively wrapped the Palestinian narrative in the mantel of justice. To reclaim the moral high ground, Israel and its supporters should focus less on the proportionality of the Israel Defense Forces’ conduct and more on the rightness of the Jewish state’s cause. War is always a terrible last resort, yet it’s sometimes the only way to keep free countries free. As Thomas Jefferson said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
In case AOC lost track: Young Dvir Sorek was a patriot.
Those who ended his life were tyrants.
Gidon Ben-Zvi is an accomplished writer whose work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, the Algemeiner, American Thinker, the Jewish Journal, Israel Hayom, and United with Israel. Ben-Zvi blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind (jsmstateofmind.com).
A former Californian, the writer lives with his wife and four children in Israel.
*Title Picture: Dvir Sorek, 19, a yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier who was found stabbed to death outside a West Bank settlement on August 8, 2019 (Courtesy)