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Endorsement withdrawal

DSA pulls endorsement of AOC over Israel, antisemitism

The socialist group objected to a webinar Ocasio-Cortez hosted on antisemitism and her vote in favor of a resolution defending Israel’s right to exist, among other moves

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., makes her way to House votes in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

The Democratic Socialists of America’s National Political Committee announced Wednesday evening that it would withdraw its endorsement of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) over her recent moves on the issues of antisemitism and Israel.

Ocasio-Cortez is among the most prominent DSA members in the country and has been endorsed by the group in previous races. The group’s National Political Committee said its reversal comes in response to her failure to meet criteria it had set in a June 23 conditional endorsement of her, mostly relating to Israel policy, as well as a request from the New York DSA.

The national DSA said it had conditioned its endorsement on Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for reelection in her deep blue district, publicly opposing all support for Israel, including for Iron Dome; opposing “all criminalization of anti-Zionism,” particularly the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition’s working definition of antisemitism; and publicly supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement “to end Israeli settler-colonialism.”

The group said in a statement that it had “not seen evidence of AOC meeting these conditions.” Ocasio-Cortez is among the most outspoken critics of Israel on Capitol Hill, has accused it of genocide and voted against additional military aid.

The DSA also said that “many members” of the DSA have been “demanding that AOC demonstrate a higher level of commitment to Palestinian liberation, self-determination, and the immediate end to the heinous genocide in Gaza committed by Israel.”

Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The DSA highlighted several particular actions to which it objected, including Ocasio-Cortez hosting a panel on antisemitism featuring Amy Spitalnick, the CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which the DSA described as “lobbyists for the IHRA definition.” The statement accused Ocasio-Cortez of “conflat[ing] anti-Zionism with antisemitism and condemn[ing] boycotting Zionist institutions.” 

The New York lawmaker said on the webinar that anti-Zionism can cross over into antisemitism, but also claimed that “false accusations of antisemitism” are being deployed for political purposes, a comment met with criticism by some in the Jewish community.

JCPA, a nonprofit group, supports legislation to combat antisemitism — although it has not taken a position on the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which is focused on IHRA codification.

“This sponsorship [of the webinar] is a deep betrayal to all those who’ve risked their welfare to fight Israeli apartheid and genocide through political and direct action in recent months, and in decades past,” the DSA statement declared.

Spitalnick responded, “the fact that our — nuanced, complex, and frank — conversation on antisemitism is somehow beyond the pale for DSA should tell you everything you need to know.”

It also blasted Ocasio-Cortez for voting in favor of a resolution that declared that Israel has the right to exist and that denying that right is a form of antisemitism. The resolution additionally rejected calls for Israel’s destruction and condemned the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

The DSA further condemned Ocasio-Cortez for joining a statement rejecting supplemental aid for Israel and excoriating its operations in Gaza because the statement expressed support for “strengthening the Iron Dome and other defense systems.”

Ocasio-Cortez voted “present” in 2021 on a standalone Iron Dome funding bill, subsequently stating that she opposed Iron Dome funding.

Ocasio-Cortez won her primary with more than 80% of the vote against a more moderate challenger, although she’s found herself under fire from both anti-Israel far-left and pro-Israel Democrats over her comments and actions on Israel and antisemitism.

The DSA’s disendorsement of Ocasio-Cortez over Israel policy echoes its previous decision to pull its endorsement from Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), another DSA member, over his trip to Israel with J Street and support for Iron Dome funding.

In his 2024 race, Bowman shifted further to the left on Israel policy and received an endorsement from the New York DSA.

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