It’s a good thing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a primary in a safe Democratic district in New York. Otherwise, she and her party might have actually paid a price for this epic faceplant on television this weekend. The ascendant Democratic Socialist candidate for the House decried the “occupation of Palestine” during an interview for PBS’ The Firing Line, only to whiff when Margaret Hoover pressed her for an explanation of what she meant (via Twitchy):
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attacks Israel, calls them the occupiers of Palestine.
When pressed on what she meant she struggled to give an answer and then admitted she does not know what she is talking about. pic.twitter.com/e3Uq1eupD3
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 16, 2018
HOOVER: Of course, the dynamic there in terms of geopolitics and — [crosstalk]
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course —
HOOVER: — are ver different than people expressing their First Amendment rights.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, yes, but I also think that what people are starting to see, at least in the occupation of Palestine, is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian conditions. And that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.
HOOVER: You use the term “the occupation of Palestine”? What did you mean by that?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Oh! Um … I think what I meant is like the settlements that are increasing in some of these places where, um … where Palestinians are experiencing, uh, difficulty in access to their housing and homes.
HOOVER: Do you think you can expand on that?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yeah, I think I’d also just — I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue! [laughs]
Clearly, that last statement is both the most true and the most intelligent contribution Ocasio-Cortez made in this exchange. The “occupation of Palestine,” at least as defined by the Palestinians, is not about the settlements. It’s about the entire state of Israel and its legitimacy, and about their demand for the “right of return” to the Palestinian lands within Israel. For most others, the “occupation” refers to Israel’s control of the entire West Bank, not just the settlement areas, and control of Gaza where there are no settlements.
That’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate humanitarian concerns in regard to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, primarily regarding water rights, but Ocasio-Cortez clearly has no idea what or where those humanitarian issues are. She’s tossing around a slogan without knowing what it means or the issues it truly signifies, which is precisely what you’d expect from an amateur whose political experience prior to her campaign was mainly limited to marinating among Democratic Socialists. Now that she’s forced to engage on a wider scale, her lack of depth is becoming painfully obvious.
Of course, it’s easy to discern a lack of depth in anyone championing socialism after a century of experiments in that system have led to failure and the deaths of tens of millions of people. What do you expect from a political movement that defines its own agenda by the people and entities they want to “f***,” including Israel?
That puts Democrats who are rushing to get behind Ocasio-Cortez in a bind, however. Will the news media start asking them about the “occupation of Palestine” in places like Indiana, West Virginia, and Ohio? Or how about even in New York, where Kirsten Gillibrand practically sprained an ankle attempting to embrace Democratic Socialism after Ocasio-Cortez’ surprise win? Does the Akin Rule apply to anyone else other than Republicans?