When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, or AOC (D-NY) was elected to Congress in 2018, part of her rise was owed to the efforts of members in the New York chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. DSA has been around for decades, but the group had a huge surge of new membership, especially among young people, in conjunction with Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in 2016.
The DSA around the country in the last decade has seen a handful of its members elected to Congress as Democrats, while at the same time, its chapters have often advocated political positions well outside the mainstream of U.S. politics.
AOC appears to still be a DSA member, and just last month, she co-signed a letter from the New York City Democratic Socialists, along with several other elected officials, calling for support for immigrants and asylum seekers, to be funded with a tax increase.
This week, the DSA in New York has come under major fire, for a rally that they promoted in Times Square, following the killings in Israel, in which multiple speakers defended the killings, and in some cases made light of them. (Per Politico, the local DSA promoted the rally but did not host or sponsor it.)
What Does AOC Really Think About Israel?
“@AOC do you agree with these lunatics?” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) wrote on X in response to a statement posted by the DSA chapter before the rally. “Yesterday’s terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas and sponsored by Iran is the fault of Israel? You should denounce this if you don’t agree with it.”
“AOC Needs to answer for this,” conservative commentator Tim Pool wrote. “This is a DSA Promoted event. AOC Is a card-carrying member of the DSA.”
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not attend the rally, and while she put out a statement after the attacks, her rhetoric was nowhere close to what was said in Times Square. Then, she directly denounced what was said at the rally, joining several other New York elected officials of both parties.
“It should not be hard to shut down hatred and antisemitism where we see it. That is a core tenet of solidarity,” the Congresswoman said in a statement, per Politico.
“The bigotry and callousness expressed in Times Square on Sunday were unacceptable and harmful in this devastating moment. It also did not speak for the 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 occupation,” she added.
Other members of “The Squad,” the group of leftist lawmakers of which Ocasio-Cortez is a founding part, have also been under fire for comments they’ve made about the attacks.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), a Squad and DSA member who is herself Palestinian, is “under fire” for posting a Palestinian flag outside of her office in the Capitol, according to the New York Post.
One lawmaker, Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), has gone so far as to introduce an amendment that would ban the display of foreign flags from Congress.
“The Palestinian flag should not have a place here,” Miller, a former Trump White House aide, said, per the Post.
The idea of Congress banning foreign flags would appear to raise First Amendment questions, as well as practical ones. Would Israeli flags be banned? What about Ukrainian ones? Because last November, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented a giant flag of his country in Congress, following his address to a joint session.
What if there’s a natural disaster in some foreign country, and members of Congress want to wave its flag in solidarity? What if a member of Congress who is of Irish, Brazilian, or Italian descent wants to celebrate their ancestral country during the World Cup?
Author Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.