Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The hard-line pro-Palestinian group Within Our Lifetime has been protesting against, of all people, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Where did the New York congresswoman and Vermont senator go astray? Didn't they denounce Israel's actions in Gaza as "genocide"? Didn't they call for halting military aid to Israel?

They did both, but Ocasio-Cortez in particular has drawn the group's wrath for approving a resolution affirming Israel's right to exist. She also supported funding for Israel's Iron Dome, which is not a weapon of attack but a system of defense for shooting down Hamas rockets.

None of these positions preclude criticizing Israel's conduct in the war. It's not easy taking a nuanced stance on a tragic conflict with hardened support on each side. But Ocasio-Cortez seems to be trying to pull back from previous statements deemed hostile to Israel.

Why is a good question. It may be a change of heart. Or it may be political calculation after a fellow "squad" member Jamaal Bowman got his clock cleaned in a Democratic primary for reelection in his congressional district, which combines some New York suburbs with part of the Bronx. The infusion of cash by the pro-Israel lobby in the campaign of Bowman's challenger, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, no doubt played a part. But it took more than AIPAC's ample checkbook for an incumbent to lose by 17 points.

Bowman showed himself a conspiracy nut who questioned that Hamas terrorists had raped Israeli women. He also childishly set off a fire alarm in a House office building and then lied about it.

But Within Our Lifetime even denounced Bowman as a "Zionist" for backing the reelection of "Genocide Joe" for president — also for supporting the Iron Dome system on the assumption, we assume, that Israel should be allowed to live.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, meanwhile, took back its endorsement of Rep. Mondaire Jones after he endorsed Latimer instead of Bowman. The progressive Working Families Party of New York followed suit.

Are you keeping score?

Jones is the leading Democrat to take the flippable seat held by Rep. Mike Lawler, a moderate Republican. Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, called Jones' decision to back Latimer "horrific." Would someone kindly tell Jayapal that Latimer is a Democrat?

The Democratic Socialists of America pulled its endorsement of Ocasio-Cortez, largely for participating in a panel discussion with a Jewish group. While there, she said criticism of Israel at times crosses into antisemitism but also that accusations of antisemitism are sometimes used to shut down legitimate critiques. The DSA declared her very participation in the event a "deep betrayal." (The local chapter has stuck with her.)

Oh, the tantrums, the expulsions, the denunciations. The authoritarian impulse on the far left continues to eat its own.

Sanders is responsible for some of the childish pique. He's not only gone after dissenters but also after people who don't dissent but ask innocent questions like why they should vote for him. During his unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1972, Sanders was asked just that. He responded with an annoyed, "If you didn't come to work for the movement, you came for the wrong reasons. I don't care who you are; I don't need you."

So there.

When Bowman got wiped out, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries offered a notably dry-eyed response. "The results speak for themselves," he said. "The voters have spoken." And he's no doubt pleased that the very likely winner in November will be the team-player Latimer.

Ocasio-Cortez's surprise upset in a 2018 primary put the DSA on the map. Without her, the DSA is back in the basement of irrelevance. She should consider herself liberated.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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