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AOC’s withdrawal from Rabin memorial is shocking blow to liberal Zionism

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As you may know, a landmark event in the politics of Palestine took place yesterday: Congressional star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York withdrew from participation in an October memorial to Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister who was slain in 1995 by a rightwing extremist, after critics pointed out Rabin’s human rights record.

Rabin is a liberal Zionist hero, maybe the greatest hero of liberal Zionism; and AOC’s withdrawal from an Americans for Peace Now virtual event to honor the 25th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, hosted by actor Mandy Patinkin– “We would have peace today had he been with us all this time, I am absolutely certain of that,” Patinkin says– is a true shocker.

Al Jazeera says that AOC’s office confirmed her withdrawal in an email.

AOC’s sole comment on the event was a response yesterday to journalist Alex Kane of Jewish Currents, who had written: “In the US Rabin is viewed as a liberal peacemaker but Palestinians remember him for his brutal rule suppressing Palestinian protest during the First Intifada, as someone who reportedly ordered the breaking of Palestinian bones.”

AOC wrote:

Hey there – this event and my involvement was presented to my team differently from how it’s now being promoted. Thanks for pointing it out. Taking a look into this now.

Many Palestinians had assailed the appearance. Adalah Justice Project announced the withdrawal yesterday.

It’s official. @AOC has withdrawn her participation from an event memorializing Yitzhak Rabin. His legacy is one of violence and dispossession for Palestinians. Thank you AOC for listening to the lived experience of the Palestinian people.

The Electronic Intifada published an article by Ali Abunimah asking, “Why is AOC honoring a war criminal?” Abunimah wrote, “AOC shows total contempt for Palestinian lives by honoring Yitzhak Rabin, the unrepentent war criminal who personally oversaw the Lydda Death March [ethnic cleansing operation during the Nakba in 1948] and ordered soldiers to break the bones of Palestinian kids demanding freedom from occupation. Just disgusting!”

Diana Buttu describes Rabin as an architect of apartheid:

Amount of whitewashing Rabin’s crimes is incredible. While he was purportedly “seeking peace” he continued to build Israeli settlements and when a settler massacred Palestinians in Hebron in 1994 instead of removing settlers he fortified them. He had choices: he chose apartheid.

Noura Erakat also describes the trap of the two-state solution:

Thank you @AOC for modeling humility and principle. The fact that the liberal Zionist camp in the US is trying to resist Trump’s Israeli apartheid by advocating for putting Palestinians back into the Oslo trap- liberals’ Apartheid- at least makes the fault lines clear for all.

Novelist Susan Abulhawa tweeted video of soldiers brutalizing Palestinian teens with rocks and wrote:

Yitzak Rabin was the architect of the “Break Their Bones” doctrine, whereby Israeli soldiers literally went house to house and broke the bones of entire generations of Palestinians. For shame @AOC is attending a celebration of his life. Here’s a glimpse of his legacy.

Alex Kane’s comment on Rabin evidently caused AOC to withdraw. He reports she did so because she wasn’t told it was a memorial to Rabin.

Source told me that @PeaceNowUS framed event as focusing on Oslo and Rabin, and APN wanted her to speak on her Congressional work on the issue. It wasn’t framed to her as a Rabin memorial. That’s why she canceled.

Kane’s interpretation:

Here’s the bottom line on @AOC withdrawing from the Rabin memorial: This would not have happened five years ago. Here we have a wildly influential Congresswoman listening to Palestinians and the broader Palestinian rights movement.

Democratic Majority for Israel is outraged. It tweeted a photo of Yasser Arafat shaking Rabin’s hand at the Oslo signing ceremony at the White House in 1993.

Congresswoman, the guy on the right who brought a gun to the UN rostrum, murdered civilians, highjacked airplanes & blew up pizza parlors & discos not only shook Yitzhak Rabin’s hand but paid a condolence call on his widow. Now you have questions about honoring Rabin? Seriously?

The evaporation of Rabin’s image clearly reflects the dismal failure of the Oslo process. The peace process has turned out to be a giant charade led by a mediator that was actually Israel’s advocate, the United States. If it had produced a Palestinian state, as was promised, within five years, Rabin might still be heroic. As it is, he is just another Israeli leader who hornswoggled Palestinians into sacrificing control of their own lands and lives. And plays on Broadway commemorating Oslo win Tony awards.

That is the great news here, the shift in the American discourse. Even as many Democrats try to run to Trump’s right on Israel and Joe Biden brags about all the arms that he gave Israel, the progressive camp is unified around democratic principles: It’s time for Palestinians to have basic, and equal, rights under Israeli rule.

As I have written, the pressure is on liberal Zionists and progressive Democrats. The rightwing Israel supporters have no problem with apartheid or occupation and they don’t sanctify the two-state solution. But liberal Zionists oppose apartheid, and they continue to parrot the two-state mantra as an answer, though it’s proved to be a delusion. What do you really care about, democracy or Jewish nationalism? AOC’s action highlights that contradiction, and if/once Biden is elected, the battle will break out in full inside the Democratic Party.

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This will result in these brave leaders to be “Corbynized” by the vicious and the nasty.

It’s less shocking and more a reality check. There is a generational non-religious paradigm shift occurring across the world. The US is a just a little slow on the uptake. The new generation is less religious and increasingly more progressive in their ideologies and values. They have grown up without the dogmatic indoctrination of their Jewish or Christian parents / grandparents or have come to reject the programming and brainwashing via logic, education, empathy, and… Read more »

AOC knows so little about the I/P conflict, Mondoweiss has zero vision, the anti-Israel camp….ok, Ami Ayalon ran the Israeli Navy and after that Shin Bet, does he know about the I/P conflict? Quoting from “Friendly Fire”: Right after Rabin’s assasination, page 109: “Of course, I knew Jews were capable of terror: In the early 1980s members of the Jewish underground had tried to assasinate mayors of Palestinian cities, had killed Palestinian students at Hebron… Read more »

‘As I have written, the pressure is on liberal Zionists and progressive Democrats.’

Democrats, if they are truly progressive, are already members of AOC’s and the Squad’s camp. So, no, there isn’t any pressure on them/us, but we welcome the pressure on the liberal Zionists.

ll “It’s time for Palestinians to have basic, and equal, rights under Israeli rule.”

A sustained campaign for basic and equal rights by Palestinian citizens who prefer living in Israel, would be a game changer.