AOC fails to defend staffer from Zionist group’s attack

Woman speaks at microphone with onlookers shown behind her

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez remains cautious regarding Palestinian rights and freedom. (Miki Jourdan/Flickr)

Morton Klein, director of the Zionist Organization of America, is demanding that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fire her recently hired legislative assistant Hussain Altamimi.

His offense?

He posted on Instagram that “Israel is a racist European ethnostate built on stolen land from its indigenous population!”

Klein followed up with a 5 January letter to Ocasio-Cortez insisting the congresswoman “immediately terminate” Altamimi.

Altamimi had also observed of “Israeli apartheid” – accurately as it happens – that “Your ethnicity determines your rights and level in the racial hierarchy.”

That prompted Klein to charge that Altamimi is an “anti-Semitic staffer” who “falsely” accused Israel of apartheid.

But it is Klein who is badly out of touch with the facts.

It is now widely recognized that Israel commits the crime of apartheid against Palestinians – a reality acknowledged in 2021 by such mainstream human rights groups as Israel’s B’Tselem and New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“The Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians,” B’Tselem has said.

The group added that “a regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime.”

Klein claims falsely in his letter to Ocasio-Cortez that Palestinian citizens of Israel have “full rights.”

Yet the Zionist Organization of America has been unwilling even to say whether or not it opposes calls for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

The ZOA “has no current position on the transfer of Arabs out of Israel,” Klein wrote in a 2016 op-ed.

“But it’s not difficult to see why a significant percentage of Israelis would be in favor,” he added.

This feigned neutrality can only be taken as encouragement and justification for continuing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that began in 1948, when some 800,000 Palestinians were forced out of homes and off their land during the Nakba.

Klein’s racist vitriol shows itself against anyone who expresses support for Palestinians.

When Archbishop Desmond Tutu died last month, Klein attacked the icon of South Africa’s freedom struggle as a “despicable Jew-hater.”

Klein claimed the Nobel Prize winner, who was eulogized around the world for his fight against oppression, “was a hater and anti-Semitic bigot as well as a hater of the Jewish State of Israel.”

Given such reprehensible bigotry and defamation, it should come as no surprise that Klein has often turned his hatred and incitement toward Jews fighting racism and discrimination.

In October 2018, Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people in a shooting rampage. He is awaiting trial for those killings, which prosecutors charge are hate crimes motivated by animus toward Jews.

In a video on social media, Bowers had reportedly stated that the work of HIAS – founded in 1881 as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Europe – is “sugar-coated evil.”

Bowers claimed that the group’s ongoing work to support refugees in the United States means that “HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people.”

Since the massacre at the synagogue, Klein has repeatedly attacked HIAS in language echoing the bigotry that allegedly motivated Bowers.

On one occasion, Klein questioned whether “HIAS resettling anti-Semitic Muslims [is] a Jewish value.”
Such vile rhetoric is apparently not enough to place Klein and the Zionist Organization of America outside the mainstream of American Jewish communal organizations.

The ZOA remains a member in good standing of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – alongside HIAS.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office has not responded to The Electronic Intifada’s requests for comment on Klein’s attack on her legislative staffer Hussain Altamimi.

The congresswoman’s silence recalls her failure to take a stand against additional US funding for Israel’s military.


Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune,, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.