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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemns 'hatred and antisemitism' at pro-Palestinian rally

Progressive allies of Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., promoted the Times Square rally Sunday, highlighting a divide over Israel on the left.
Demonstrators march in support of Palestinians in New York on Oct. 9, 2023.
Demonstrators march in support of Palestinians in New York on Monday.Adam Gray / AFP - Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., condemned the “bigotry and callousness” displayed at a pro-Palestinian rally held this weekend and promoted by some of her allies.

The rally was held Sunday in Times Square as Israel reeled from a massive surprise attack the day before by Hamas militants, who killed and kidnapped more than a thousand Israeli civilians.

Despite a heavy police presence at the rally, there were some clashes between pro-Palestinian activists, whose signs portrayed the attack as a legitimate form of political resistance, and pro-Israel demonstrators, who decried the protesters as antisemitic and terrorist sympathizers.

The rally had been promoted by Democratic Socialists of America, a left-wing group that helped elect Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives, but it faced criticism from some of its own elected officials for endorsing the event, which was held even before Israel had been able to count the dead.

“It should not be hard to shut down hatred and antisemitism where we see it. That is a core tenet of solidarity,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement first shared with Politico's New York affiliate late Monday.

“The bigotry and callousness expressed in Times Square on Sunday were unacceptable and harmful in this devastating moment," the congresswoman continued. "It also did not speak for the thousands of New Yorkers who are capable of rejecting both Hamas’ horrifying attacks against innocent civilians as well as the grave injustices and violence Palestinians face under occupation.”

While the mainstream Democratic Party remains overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, the left wing of the party has grown increasingly supportive of the Palestinian cause in recent years, with some comparing Israeli treatment of Palestinians to Apartheid South Africa and promoting anti-Israeli actions like the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Jewish leaders, including some on the left otherwise sympathetic to the plight of Palestinian, have long expressed concern that that kind of rhetoric and targeted action help normalize antisemitism, creating an ugly point of friction inside the progressive movement and between the movement and the Democratic Party, which has flared up on multiple occasions.

Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives have tried to straddle the divide by expressing support for Palestinians while reaffirming support for Israel's right to exist, but they have often faced criticism for it, being accused mostly of being too soft on Palestinian militants.

Earlier, she called the events of the weekend “devastating for all those seeking a lasting peace and respect for human rights in Israel and Palestine” and said, “I condemn Hamas’ attack in the strongest possible terms.”

But she also called for an “immediate ceasefire and de-escalation,” which is not acceptable to Israel and its allies, including the United States, as Israel now moves to destroy Hamas.