Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met with one of New York City’s leading Jewish groups April 1 for the first time since taking office in 2018, ending what some considered a snub of the Jewish community.
Ocasio-Cortez told the head of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Michael Miller, during an April 1 virtual interview that she had not met with leading Jewish groups in New York before because she had been “focused on our backyard,” the Jewish Telegraph Agency first reported.
She highlighted her work on projects with smaller Jewish community groups in her congressional district in Bronx and Queens, along with the left-wing policy group J Street.
Ocasio-Cortez and Miller also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The progressive lawmaker said she “value[s] the safety and the human rights of Israelis” but also “value[s] the safety and human rights of Palestinians in that process.” She argued that Israeli settlements were an obstacle to the proposed two-state solution. She also praised legislation introduced by Democratic Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum in 2019 that would withhold funding to Israel for detaining Palestinian children. (RELATED: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin To Visit Israel)
The Jewish Community Relations Council, which represents more than 50 local Jewish groups, and the New York Board of Rabbis previously expressed dissatisfaction with Ocasio-Cortez for not meeting with them since taking office, according to Jewish Insider. Miller said in October 2020 there was “a lot of frustration” about the lawmaker not meeting with leading Jewish groups.
“We still want to continue to engage,” Miller said after the conversation. “From my perspective, this was an opening.”
Ocasio-Cortez also pulled out of a memorial dedicated to the former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, after consulting with progressive groups, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported.