Outreach To Ocasio-Cortez


Last week’s editorial regarding the National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene and Democratic House nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attempts to lecture its readers on the prescription for dealing with rising anti-Israel sentiment on the left and particularly in Democratic circles (“‘Fiddler’ As Political Outreach”).

It designates my “rhetoric” as extreme, a critique I believe is doled out in a purposefully selective manner.

First, concerning the partnership with the Immigrant Arts Summit, we were not involved with invitations. When professional staff raised the question of the partnership, I had some concerns about the Summit’s unilateral programming of speakers, i.e., no control. News of the attendance of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, as well as of the other participants, was a fait accompli. That said, we neither invited nor uninvited anyone to see “Fiddler.”

Further, my statement gave an opening to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to give an indication of her willingness to hear from knowledgeable individuals about the Middle East; such an indication would make her presence palatable to most reasonable people, myself included. But I will never apologize to anyone for calling members of the IDF “murderers.”

In other forums, such as the Jewish Community Relations Council, I have stated that she should come forward and at least indicate a desire to open her mind to the reasons for Israel’s defensive actions. To buttress the editorial’s selective assertions, it omits circumstances which render the message unbalanced against those who desire the same respect for Jews — and Israel — that blacks, Hispanics and other ethnic groups demand as well. This includes the fact that many elected officials have reached out to Ocasio-Cortez on Israel, and she has not returned those calls.

Finally, I’d be most pleased if she would indicate her willingness to meet with those who represent pro-Israel Jews (not those she has cited as “praising” her for her current stance). I maintain my view and that of the board that a one-sided message delivered by her at a Holocaust museum does not constitute education.