Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls Israel an ‘apartheid state’

Progressive congresswoman says on Twitter that ‘apartheid states are not democracies’ amidst ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine

Clara Hill
Monday 17 May 2021 13:13
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes impassioned speech against Biden policy on Israel crisis

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has labelled Israel “an apartheid state” after a week of violence has gripped the region, claiming, therefore, it cannot be a democracy.

The New York representative has been a longtime vocal critic of the Israeli government since her election to the House of Representatives in 2018.

Using her Twitter feed over the weekend, she has attempted to rally the US government to deescalate the violence. Since the recent outbreak of attacks, it has been reported that 197 people have died in Gaza, including 58 children.

She has called for the Biden administration to take a more severe line with the Israeli government.

On Sunday, president Joe Biden called both prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas after a weekend of rocket attacks, culminating in the shelling of building housing news organisations, including the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. A subsequent meeting with the UN Security Council led to no resolution with Netanyahu saying that the attacks will continue at “full force” after the US voted against taking action.

In another tweet, Ms Ocasio-Cortez backed up her claims with a Human Rights Watch report that was first disseminated in April.

The editor of the report, Eric Goldstein, acting executive director of the region, said this label did not come “lightly” but was a product of his decades of being an on-the-ground researcher.

He wrote in an op-ed piece shared on Twitter by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez that read, “This kind of two-tiered treatment was always there. What’s gone is the possibility of saying, with a straight face, that it is temporary. Israeli authorities today clearly intend to maintain this system of severe discrimination into the future — an intent that constitutes the third prong of the crime of apartheid.”

She also shared news reports bolstering her claims and highlighting Palestinian perspectives.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez also retweeted US senator Bernie Sanders calling for the US government to “take a hard look” and rethink the nearly $4 billion in military aid provided to Israel, saying it was unlawful for the US to be funding this approach.

She also shared the Vermont senator’s op-ed for The New York Times titled “The U.S. Must Stop Being an Apologist for the Netanyahu Government.”

In the piece, Mr Sanders argued that the US ought to take this fresh government to reconsider its relationship with the Israeli government.

This is not the first time that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has spoken in defence of the Palestinian cause since the recent aggression.

“This is not about both sides. This is about an imbalance of power,” she said in the House on 13 May. “The president stated that Israel has a right to self-defence... But do Palestinians have a right to survive?”

She then compared the situation to the one at the US-Mexico border.

“We are scared to stand up to the incarceration of children in Palestine because maybe it’ll force us to confront the incarceration of children here on our border,” she continued in her address.

Senator Sanders is not the only other politician critical of the federal government’s response to the situation, as fellow congressional colleagues have spoken out on the floor, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Cori Bush and others.

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