Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is coming up on the end of her first term in office, having generated more headlines and hot takes than most back-bench, first-term members of the House than you could probably think of. She’s kept herself busy on the national stage for the entire time, particularly as a surrogate for Bernie Sanders throughout most of the Democratic primary. But her schedule in terms of interacting with her constituents back home in Queens and the Bronx has been a bit on the light side. That’s been of increasing concern to the Jewish community who represent a significant portion of the residents in her district. The New York Post reports this week that prominent leaders in the city’s Jewish Community have been requesting meetings with AOC ever since she was sworn in so they could discuss issues of importance to New York’s Jews. But thus far, the freshman congresswoman hasn’t made time to meet with any of them.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has rebuffed requests to meet with New York’s prominent Jewish leaders.
The heads of both the Jewish Community Relations Council and the New York Board of Rabbis said they’ve sought sit downs with the first-term “democratic socialist” congresswoman — to no avail.
“I requested a meeting with her and it has not come to fruition,” JCRC executive director Michael Miller told The Post.
“A meeting has been requested on more than one occasion. It hasn’t happened. I’m still interested in meeting with her.”
It’s hard to write this off as some sort of simple oversight. The Jewish Community Relations Council and the New York Board of Rabbis are both very active in politics at every level and regularly meet with elected leaders at the municipal, state and federal levels. Both groups report that they’ve had no trouble arranging meetings with the other members of Congress representing the greater New York City region. But for some reason, AOC just can’t seem to find the time.
Perhaps this is more than a simple oversight. It’s no secret that Ocasio0Cortez and her antisemitic friends on “The Squad” haven’t always been exactly benevolent toward the concerns of the Jewish community. She regularly criticizes Israel’s “inhumane policies” toward Palestinian terrorist activity. And she’s always quick to rush to the defense of Ilhan Omar, arguably one of the biggest antisemites to serve in Congress in recent memory. There are plenty of other examples littering the news from the past two years.
It’s not as if the Jewish community in New York City doesn’t have plenty of concerns that deserve attention. You probably haven’t heard as much about it in the midst of all the news about the riots and the pandemic, but violent antisemitism is still alive and well in the Big Apple. Even the New York Times admitted back in February that more than half of all the hate crimes reported in Gotham in 2019 were incidents of attacks on Jews, far outnumbering all other demographic groups. Orthodox Jews in particular are considered to be at the highest risk, primarily because their traditional garb and distinctive hairstyles make them readily identifiable targets. A string of stabbings of Rabbis and other prominent leaders of the community this spring led to large marches showing solidarity with New York’s Jews.
All of this has been taking place right in AOC’s back yard and many Jews are counted among her constituents. And yet she’s failed to make time for a single meeting with any of their leaders while in office. Instead, she’s been out on the national campaign trail and trying to build her brand rather than doing the less glamorous work of addressing the concerns of the people she supposedly represents.
Of course, I don’t expect this to turn into a campaign issue in her case. She already won her primary race handily and New York’s 14th District is so incredibly lopsided in favor of the Democrats that there’s no chance she could lose her seat anyway. But shouldn’t she at least be putting on the appearance of caring? How much effort would it be to take a simple meeting and hear their concerns?