(New York Jewish Week) – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the prominent progressive Democratic New York congresswoman from New York City, condemned a pro-Palestinian rally that took place over the weekend in Times Square, calling it “unacceptable and harmful.”
“It should not be hard to shut down hatred and antisemitism where we see it,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement on Monday night. “That is a core tenet of solidarity. The bigotry and callousness expressed in Times Square on Sunday were unacceptable and harmful in this devastating moment.”
The rally on Sunday came as news was still emerging of widespread atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel, killing more than 900 people, wounding more than 2,000 and taking more than 100 captive. It coincided with a pro-Israel rally taking place outside the United Nations.
The pro-Palestinian rally has drawn criticism from a broad swath of city and state officials. Mayor Eric Adams posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that “it is disgusting that this group of extremists would show support for terrorism.”
But Ocasio-Cortez’s condemnation of the rally is notable because of her frequent criticism of Israel as well as her membership in the Democratic Socialists of America, a far-left group that endorsed Sunday’s rally. The group’s New York chapter posted on X on Saturday that the gathering was “In solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist 75 years of occupation and apartheid.”
In her statement, Ocasio-Cortez said the rally “also did not speak for 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 the occupation.”
Earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez skipped President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress during a visit to Washington, D.C. In 2021, she switched her vote from “no” to “present” during a Congressional vote to approve $1 billion in new U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. That same year, during a previous conflict with Hamas, she called Israel an “apartheid state.”
She wasn’t the only vocal progressive official in the city to denounce the rally. New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who is Jewish and has previously identified as a member of the DSA, called the rally “abominable.”
“Today’s DSA rally – which effectively celebrated Hamas’ murder & kidnapping of hundreds of Israeli civilians, including children & grandparents – was abominable. There is no place for glorifying terror, left, center, or right,” Lander said in a statement.
Jamaal Bowman, another member of New York’s congressional delegation who belongs to the DSA, also condemned the rally.
“I am shocked and disgusted by the rally held here in NY this weekend celebrating death or attacks on civilians and showing swastikas,” he said in a statement. “I condemn any demonstration that does this in the strongest possible terms. We must proceed on the basis of recognizing our shared humanity.”
He also released a statement condemning Hamas’ attacks on Israel.
“I strongly condemn the horrific attacks by Hamas and am saddened by the loss of precious lives, especially on the holy day of Simchat Torah,” said Bowman, whose congressional district includes parts of Westchester County and the Bronx, in a statement.
“We need a way to end this deadly violence that is killing and traumatizing generations of Israelis and Palestinians alike—including the blockade of Gaza. I have been to the Gaza border and know that Israelis and Palestinians are constantly living in fear. We must work harder to ensure peace in the region,” his statement added.
Ocasio-Cortez released a similar statement — separate from her comments on the rally — about the attacks on Monday. Others in the group of progressive congress members known as the “Squad,” including Missouri’s Cori Bush and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, released statements that primarily attributed the blame to Israel.
“Today is devastating for all those seeking a lasting peace and respect for human rights in Israel and Palestine. I condemn Hamas’ attack in the strongest possible terms,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
She also called for an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation in the region.
“No child and family should ever endure this kind of violence and fear, and this violence will not solve the ongoing oppression and occupation in the region,” the statement read.