AOC reversal on Yitzhak Rabin event deals blow to Israel lobby

On Saturday, Americans for Peace Now confirmed that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has pulled out of its event next month honoring Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister who was assassinated by a Jewish extremist 25 years ago.

This came after a massive outcry from Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian rights.

The liberal Zionist group said it was “sorry to hear” that Ocasio-Cortez would no longer be speaking at its memorial event, but offered absolutely no introspection as to why so many people would object to her participation in the first place.

On Friday, I spoke to Aaron Maté of The Grayzone.

We talked about my article “Why is AOC honoring an Israeli war criminal?” which describes Rabin’s personal role in atrocities, including the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the brutal crackdown against Palestinians protesting military occupation during the first intifada.

Watch the video above.

We discussed the history of the so-called peace process and how the effort to redeem Rabin as a martyred peacemaker is a gross distortion of reality.

The uproar about Ocasio-Cortez’s participation and her quick announcement that she was reconsidering – and ultimately withdrawing – is a sign of change within American politics.

We discussed how it shows that the Israel lobby is losing its influence among liberals and leftists.

Democratic Majority for Israel, a lobby group that aims to shore up support for Israel among liberals, on Sunday called Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to pull out of the Rabin memorial “wrong and deeply regrettable.”

Ocasio-Cortez was also attacked by Zioness, a fake feminist group that purports to be progressive and pro-Israel.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, called it “sad” and “wrong” for Ocasio-Cortez to withdraw from the Rabin event honoring “a heroic Israeli leader.”

Recently, some 100 anti-racist and social justice groups called on allies to end their relationships with the ADL because it is an Israel lobby group that masquerades as a civil rights organization while systematically undermining social justice movements and denouncing Black activists for expressing support for Palestinian liberation.

Meanwhile, Batya Ungar-Sargon, the opinion editor of the liberal Jewish newspaper The Forward, drew a comparison between Ocasio-Cortez’s decision and last week’s actions by Zoom, YouTube and Facebook to ban San Francisco State University from using their platforms to host a seminar featuring Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled.

“A movement that idolizes Leila Khaled and cancels Yitzhak Rabin is no place for any American with a conscience,” Ungar-Sargon claimed.

Her effort to demonize Khaled and elevate Rabin belies the reality that while Khaled is notorious for taking part in two hijackings half a century ago, she never killed or injured anyone. The contrast with Rabin’s deadly record speaks for itself.

Ungar-Sargon has played a key role in inciting racial hatred against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and has lied about anti-Semitism among supporters of Palestinian rights.

Israel and its lobby believe that cultivating support on the left is especially valuable in their effort to fight the Palestine solidarity movement, particularly the call for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The loss of Ocasio-Cortez is a significant political blow to Israel’s propagandists.

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Many, many, many plaudits for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's courageous stand against attending the event "honoring" the mass murderer and fascist Yitzhak Rabin.
Though, I am always perplexed by the oxymoron term, "Liberal Zionism", it would be similar to calling someone a "Progressive Nazi"--both are fascist ideologies. Zionist and Nazi ideologies share many similarities: both believe in their racial, ethnic, and religious superiorities to all others; both believe in the subjugation of others who are not like them; both believe in the unequal treatment of those who are not like them and reside within the borders of their respective countries; both manifest demonizing other racial, religious, ethnic groups; both believe in the ethnic cleansing of their respective countries--Germany in ridding themselves not only of Jews but also Catholics, labor unionists, socialists, communists, gypsies, homosexuals, etc., in Israel it is the ridding of Muslims, Christians, Druze, Arabs, Palestinians, Black African Sudanese and Ethiopians; finally, both ideologies are pathological and stridently nationalistic. So, where is the so-called Liberal Zionism?

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I hope people will appreciate this. AOC doesn't have the ability to educate the broader pubic about Rabin. Its perception of him as a peacemaker, even martyr, will continue. Her action might result in educating a few but largely she will be seen as an ungrateful, far-left absolutist and anti-Semitic iconoclast. And her colleagues will be raked over the coals too. Sure it's the right thing to do but give her a little credit.

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Mr. Costello; You are correct. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will be seen as an anti-Semitic. Part of Zionist smear tactics is to attack the person and not the idea, that is the way to silence some people. While he was alive, Mr. Rabin was complicit in the torture, murder, and slow extermination of the Palestinian people--he was not, nor was he ever, a man of peace. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez should be lauded for her actions. She is an American to be proud of.

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In my view, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's long term plans revolve around one objective. She wants to be President. All her decisions will be taken with that goal in mind. Thus it's genuinely instructive that she's been forced to withdraw from this nauseating event. She signed up for it, and she knew exactly what it was about. Doors to the donor class open through such engagements. But the response from people and groups she currently depends on was so dramatic that at this stage of her career she couldn't flout their objections. She needs the progressive base in order to get to a place where she can comfortably abandon them. That hour has not yet come. Meanwhile, she and her staff must find other, less visible ways to cultivate relations with the sort of people who would have us believe Rabin was a standard-bearer of humane values.

These things take time, and she's young. When she does eventually run for the White House, it may be unnecessary by then- even inadvisable- to assure the Israel lobby publicly of her loyalty. The groundwork will have been laid, quietly and unobtrusively. On the other hand, unforeseen events and intense popular opposition may not reward such an opportunistic strategy. Do voters really want a female version of Obama?

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.