Real power over U.S. policy toward Israel and Gaza rests with Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, Blinken -- not Yang. But AOC's function is to shield them from leftist anger.
There are three interrelated political factions that wield actual power to change blind U.S. support for Israel: the U.S. Congress, the Democratic Party, and the Biden Administration. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who claims to oppose this U.S. posture toward Israel, has significant influence in and responsibility for each: she is a member of Congress, one of the party's most popular elected officials, and was a vocal supporter of the Biden campaign in the general election and is now a key surrogate for his administration.
As Israeli bombs fall on Gaza yet again as part of a conflict triggered by further incursions by Israeli settlers into occupied East Jerusalem, those key power centers remain steadfast in their support for Israel. The Biden State Department has issued one statement after the next so supportive of Israel that its spokesman, Ned Price, was petrified to utter a word that might be construed as empathy for Palestinian suffering — even refusing to condemn the killing of Palestinian children when asked explicitly if he does. After a two-minute opening statement on Sunday in which he announced that “the U.S. condemns in the strongest terms the barrage of rocket attacks fired into Israel” and heralded “Israel's legitimate right to defend itself, its people and its territory,” Price took questions from reporters in which he appeared on the verge of some sort of seizure each time he was pressed to say what he thought about violence by Israel against Palestinians:
After the Biden State Department's defense of Israel, one key Democratic leader after the next has issued one-sided statements pledging continuation of endless and unconditional U.S. support to Israel that are virtually identical to those issued by every pro-war, pro-Israel Republican, from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) to Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX). The long-time Democratic Congresswoman representing Manhattan, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, praised Price's comments and added her own: "This is terrorism,” the New York Democrat said of the Gazan response, adding: “ Rocket fire is never the answer.”
Even with the emergence of a strong “America First” faction within the Republican Party and the vaunted Squad within the Democratic Party, the same bipartisan lockstep consensus on Israel that has reigned in Washington for decades continues, whereby billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds every year are sent to Israelis, whose health care and education benefits are better than those of millions of Americans. Meanwhile, U.S. officials reflexively defend Israel's use of violence. Indeed, support for this foreign nation is such a high priority in U.S. politics that GOP Governors have championed laws to prohibit American citizens from supporting a boycott of Israel if they want to keep their jobs (courts have struck down those laws as an obvious violation of the First Amendment). New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo did the same even after he ordered boycotts of American states — Indiana and North Carolina — for laws they passed. In U.S. politics, boycotting Americans is fine, while boycotting Israel is treated as a virtual crime.
Ever since Bush 41's Secretary of State James Baker was vilified for attempting in 1992to condition U.S. aid to Israel on the cessation of growing settlements — arguing that such settlement expansions harms U.S. national security by inciting anti-American sentiment around the world — leaders of the establishment wings of both parties have shoveled enormous sums of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Israelis even as Israel refuses to stop the conduct U.S. military officials warn is undermining U.S. national security. From Chuck Schumer to Joe Biden to Kamala Harris to Nancy Pelosi, that includes the most powerful figures within the Democratic Party, which now controls the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress. As The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill recently documented, Biden has been so fanatically pro-Israel for so long that it even made Israeli leaders uncomfortable.
So when AOC decided on Monday to finally use her massive platform to condemn specific political figures expressing this pro-Israel mentality, which of those powerful targets did she choose? None. Her brave outspoken moral stand was reserved for someone who has never held elected office and has zero power over U.S. policy toward Israel: New York City Democratic Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang. As Democratic politicians in New York City have done for decades, Yang (just as his top rival, the African-American former police officer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, did) issued a standard pro-Israel statement, one very similar to the statements from countless Democratic officials across the country:
I'm standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists. The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.
— Andrew Yang🧢🗽🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) May 10, 2021
(Responding to criticisms, Yang posted a new statement on Tuesday that, among other things, acknowledge the criticisms even from his own supporters for failing to acknowledge Palestinian suffering, saying: “I mourn for every Palestinian life taken before its time.")
AOC said nothing about the State Department's ongoing defense of Israel. She condemned none of her powerful colleagues in Congress who did the same. She refused to call on the Biden administration explicitly to change its policies or denounce Biden's fanaticism on this issue. Her only previous utterance was a mealy-mouthed, barely cogent tweet in which she randomly threw the Israel/Gaza conflict into a laundry list along with “paramilitary violence in Colombia” and “the detention of children on our own border and the militarization of US police departments” to say: “the United States must seriously assess its role in state violence and condition aid.”
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This post is part of our Orphaned Truths series with leading cultural and political analysts. People you can trust.
The Jimmy Dore Show • Fiorella Isabel — Craig Pasta Jardula (The Convo Couch)
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