Democratic-socialist and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently sat down with PBS’s Margaret Hoover and offered up harsh criticism of Israel, then embarrassingly admitted she knows little about foreign affairs.
A partial transcript via Jewish Press follows:
HOOVER: You made one tweet or made one statement that referred to a killing by Israeli soldiers of civilians in Gaza and called it a massacre, which became a little bit controversial, but I haven’t seen anywhere, what is your position on Israel?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I believe absolutely in Israel’s right to exist. I am a proponent of the two-state solution. And for me, this is not a referendum, I think, on the state of Israel. For me, the lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist, as an organizer: If 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx–unarmed–60 people were killed in Puerto Rico, I just look at that incident more through–through just, as an incident and to me it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores. But–
HOOVER: Of course, the dynamic there in terms of geopolitics and the Middle East is very different from people expressing their First Amendment right to protest.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, yes, but I also think that what people are starting to see 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–I think, what I meant is that the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to housing and homes.
HOOVER: Do you think you can expand on that?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yeah, I think—I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. You know, for me, I’m a firm believer in finding a two-state solution in this issue. And I’m happy to sit down with leaders on both of these… for me, I just look at things through a human rights lens, and I may not use the right words–I know this is a very intense issue.
HOOVER: That’s very honest, and you’re going to—and when you get to Washington and you’re an elected member of Congress, you’ll have an opportunity to talk to people on all sides and visit Israel and visit the West Bank.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Absolutely. And especially with the district that I represent, I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background. And Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night. But I also recognize that this is an intensely important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country. And I think at least what is important to communicate is that I am willing to listen. And that I’m willing to learn and evolve on this issue as I think many Americans are.