The Three Mistakeateers: Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib

Three new Democrat left-of-center congresswomen have hit the ground running. Each is gutsy, confident, and gives as good as she gets. None of them is a great fan of Israel.

Easily the most prominent of the three is New Yorker Ocasio-Cortez, a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent (on her mother’s side; her father was born in New York City) who represents a district partly in Queens and partly in the Bronx. Only 28 years old in 2018, she pulled off a stunning primary victory again five-termer Joseph Crowley, head of the Democrat National Committee.

She is already being viewed as presidential material. As the Constitution requires that American presidents be at least 35 years old, she will have to wait a while. But (with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel), she won’t have to be president unless she really wants to be.

In the several months between the primary and the national election, AOC (it took years for Mr Presley to become Elvis; AOC accomplished a similar trick almost overnight) was interviewed on the TV program Firing Line.

In May, 2018—a few months before the primary—62 rioters were killed at Gaza, some 50 of whom were Hamas fighters.

On May 14, 2018, AOC tweeted:

“This is a massacre. I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such. No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore.”

Her source was Al Jazeera.

Her language—”massacre”—was absurd. No, Israel did not round up a large group of Palestinians, herd them inside a mosque, lock the doors and torch the building. No, IDF soldiers did not line up more than three dozen Palestinian civilians against a wall and mow them down.

Yes, Syrians killed Palestinians in cold blood in much greater numbers. No tweet from AOC.

A few months after the Gaza clash, Margaret Hoover (a descendant of President Hoover) interviewed AOC on the television program Firing Line.

Discussing the middle east, Ocasio-Cortez said that “what people are starting to see at least in the occupation of Palestine is an increasing crisis of humanitarian conditions. And that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.”

What, Hoover asked, did she mean by “occupation of Palestine?”

“Oh, um. I think what I meant is like the settlements are increasing in some of these areas in places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.”

Nevertheless, she “absolutely” supported both Israel’s right to exist and a two-state solution before finally raising a white flag: “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. I am a firm believer in finding a two-state solution on this issue, and I’m happy to sit down with leaders on both of these.”

On this issue, and on many others, she was inarticulate, unprepared even on topics on which she had already taken a stand.

AOC’s signature issue as a congresswomen thus far has been the Green New Deal, details of which appeared on her website. Unfortunately, a draft proposal and working notes accidentally appeared on the site, with references to “cow farts” and payments to people “unwilling to work”. She quickly deleted the offending items from her website.

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1981, Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar has recently been getting more coverage than AOC, thanks to a recently resurrected tweet she sent in 2012: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

The Jews, up to their old hypnosis tricks again. Among those taking Omar to task was New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, who wondered: “Perhaps Ms. Omar is sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting.”

Omar replied: “Hi @bariweiss, You are correct when you say, ‘Perhaps Ms. Omar is sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting.’ In all sincerity, it was after my CNN interview that I heard from Jewish orgs. that my use of the word ‘Hypnotize’ and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive.” To use her own terms, people awakened her to the meaning of her own loaded word.

Omar also noted that she was criticising, justifiably in her view, the Netanyahu government. Her “apology”—many media accounts described it as such—was big on explanation and exculpation.

Recently, Omar surveyed the power of American Jews and called on rapper Puff Daddy for the right language: “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” Benjamin Franklin adorns America’s hundred-dollar bank notes. The source of Jewish-American power is money.
Once again, she did not really understand the meaning of her own blithely incendiary words. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”

And once again, she qualifies her “apology” by going on the attack, claiming that American politicians are in the pay of Jews. Which Jews? AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). She did not mention that she received contributions from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations).

A Muslim and (like AOC) a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Tlaib was born in Detroit, Michigan in the bicentennial year of 1976. Her father hails from east Jerusalem, and her mother was born in a village near Ramallah.

At her swearing-in ceremony in early January, she recounted that she told her son that bullies don’t win “because we’re gonna go in there and impeach the motherf***er.”

In the sh*tstorm that inevitably followed, many of her defenders pointed out that her language was no different from that of President Trump.

In the president, however, as in Tlaib, profanity suggests failure: a resort to vulgarity because you can’t find better, more effective language.

She could have had her profane cake and eaten it too by, for example, saying that she wanted to impeach the man whose own secretary of state called him a “f…ing moron”.

The profanity would have been someone else’s, would be on the historical record and would have reflected the devastating effect it had when attributed to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. By quoting him, she would have been making a substantive criticism of the president. Instead, she merely said nothing more than she disliked the president.

Before the election, Tlaib was in favor of a two-state solution in the middle east and a supporter of aid to Israel. After the election, she suddenly realized that one state would be preferable, and preferably not the current Jewish state. The double-dealing is especially baffling in that she ran unopposed for her congressional seat.

Plus ca change

Recently, Ilhan Omar questioned special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams—referring to him as Mr. Adams—during a House Committee hearing, a grilling that she admitted was an “attack.” She made more than a few new enemies.

Apple has pulled out of its deal to build its headquarters in New York City and, in the backlash that has already begun, some critics are holding Ocasio-Cortez partly responsible.

Tomorrow will bring new controversy for these three sisters.

Yes, they have hit the ground running, but they landed on a treadmill moving too fast for comfort. They’ve tumbled and stumbled.

Their various mistakes to date leave one wondering if the electorate thinks it was a mistake to elect them. We will find out in two years time.

About the Author
Robert Liebman is an American-born London-based freelance journalist who has written for most British national newspapers, and many magazines. As a graduate student he specialized in Jewish-American literature and wrote his doctoral dissertation on Norman Mailer. As a journalist in Britain, Robert's primary topic was real estate, while his main interests currently are Israel and the Second World War.
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