Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently revealed her true feelings about Israel. During a radio interview, 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.” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that people such as Palestinians have no other option than to “riot” because they are “marginalized” by Israel.
A few days after AOC said that injustice is a threat to the safety of all people, a 19-year-old Israeli 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 lend credence to the idea that the killing of unarmed people in the name of justice isn’t just understandable, it’s justified. “Once someone doesn’t have access to clean water, they have no choice but to riot, right?” Ocasio-Cortez asked during the morning radio show.
By selectively overlooking horrific crimes if they’re perpetrated in the name of an exotic, fashionable cause, AOC is shaping up to be a 2019 version of the ‘useful idiot.’ This is a term credited to Vladimir Lenin that summed up his disdainful attitude towards communist sympathizers in the West. Lenin and his Soviet comrades viewed such people as valuable tools for spreading communist propaganda and infecting countries around the world with totalitarian tripe.
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 to make the moral case for Israel.
Israeli leaders and the country’s supporters overseas are reluctant to assert the essential right a sovereign nation has to defend its citizens. Instead, the government in Jerusalem repeatedly bows 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 most vocal defenders push the Jewish state 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, as former IDF Chief of Staff and leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz recently said.
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 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 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.
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. 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.”
And in case AOC lost track, Dvir Sorek was a patriot. Those who ended his life were tyrants.
This piece was published on August 13, 2019 in United With Israel.