Has The Squad reached detente with Israel?
New York Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman both sat down for friendly talks with top Jewish leaders in the Big Apple this week to address Israel issues and other longstanding tensions.
“It was a positive sign,” said one influential Orthodox rabbi who requested anonymity so as not to upset the process.
On Monday the powerful Jewish Community Relations Council of New York uploaded a 38-minute interview with Ocasio-Cortez and group CEO Michael Miller.
AOC has raised eyebrows for calling out Israel’s “occupation” of “Palestine.” A letter put forward by Ocasio-Cortez last year warned that Israel was at risk of becoming an “Apartheid state.” Most recently, AOC dropped out of an event honoring slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after her planned presence sparked a progressive backlash.
She and Bowman are also closely aligned with Squad members Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who have both faced accusations of anti-Semitism.
During a chummy exchange with Miller, Ocasio-Cortez said the issue of settlement expansion in the West Bank would remain a thorn, but quickly pivoted to how Israel could remain engaged and how she hoped Israeli tech could help projects like her Green New Deal.
“Israel’s technology around waste water circulation … this is going to be so important for us to collaborate and work together especially as water scarcity increases for vulnerable communities,” she said, while also lauding the nation’s innovation with electric vehicle batteries.
The sit-down was a coup for Miller, who had tried — and failed — to land an AOC meeting many times in the past.
“This hopefully provides an opening for further conversation,” Miller told The Post.
Bowman, meanwhile, quietly slipped into the Israeli consulate in Manhattan Wednesday for an hour-long meeting with Israel’s Acting Consul General Israel Nitzan.
“Thank you @RepBowman for the thoughtful conversation, I’m looking forward to building upon this relationship,” Nitzan offered in a tweet.
“Thank you for having me,” Bowman responded. “Thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you, and look forward to building with you as well!”
The exchange seemed to be a first thaw in a chilly relationship over Bowman’s steady drumbeat of statements criticizing Israel for not providing vaccines to non-Israeli Palestinians. “This cruelty is another reminder of why the occupation must end,” he said in a now deleted tweet. “Israel as an occupying power has a responsibility to provide vaccines to the Palestinian people,” he said in a letter to Nitzan in February.
Itay Milner, a consulate spokesman, told The Post that “the progressive movement and the State of Israel share common goals. That is why we welcome and encourage dialogue with all local elected officials, regardless of their political affiliations.”
Bowman, who reps the northern Bronx and Yonkers did not respond to request seeking comment.
“Time will tell if this is a genuine shift or if this is just a temporary attempt to make nice with the Jewish community,” Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin, president of the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty, told The Post.
Both AOC and Bowman are backed by the city’s Democratic Socialists of America, which supports the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and last year demanded city pols refuse to travel to Israel as the price of their endorsement.
The DSA declined to comment, but some of their rank-and-file were disappointed by the lawmakers’ outreach.
“It’s pretty shameful but not exactly surprising,” one disgruntled DSA member told The Post. “Everybody likes to talk a big game to get lefty endorsements and then you quickly see once they get to Congress how unwilling they are to challenge power centers.”