WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said her criticisms of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not be seen as shots at the Jewish state.
“The Netanyahu administration has been pursuing a lot of extraordinarily concerning policies,” Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., told Israel’s Channel 12 News in a recent media opportunity in New York.
The freshman lawmaker likened Netanyahu to President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly attacked her.
“To conflate an individual leader or ego with being against the entire country I think is hallmark behavior of folks like our president,” she said. “Just like we have the ability to criticize our president without being anti-American, I think we can criticize the policies” of Netanyahu without being anti-Israel.
Trump has accused Ocasio-Cortez and three other progressive freshmen congresswomen of being anti-Semitic, apparently based on the fact that two of them, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, back Israel boycotts. (Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts do not.)
Ocasio-Cortez said in the interview that Trump was instrumentalizing anti-Semitism to distract from his policies.
“It’s done completely in bad faith and they can no longer use this allegation of anti-Semitism to defend their unjust and inhumane policies,” she said. “You can’t use this cudgel of anti-Semitism to scare people away from pointing that out.”