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Ryan Saavedra/Twitter

Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s interview on Israel-Palestine caused an online uproar

The clip was cynically edited and pushed by a right-wing journalist.


David Gilmour


Posted on Jul 16, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 11:02 am CDT

Far-right media outlets have jumped on the chance to attack and mock New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday, after an edited interview clip appeared to show her unable to explain her characterization of Israel’s conflict with Palestine as an “occupation.”

Although the comments made no impact after airing on Friday’s edition of PBS’s Firing Line, they went viral when trimmed to a one-minute clip published Sunday night on Twitter by Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra, who described it as an attack on Israel.

“I also think that what people are starting to see, at least in the occupation of Palestine, is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue,” Ocasio-Cortez tells conservative host Margaret Hoover in the cut.

“You used the term ‘occupation of Palestine’,” Hoover asks. “What did you mean by that?”

“I think what I meant is the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas,” she replies, “in some of these areas where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in accessing their houses and homes.”

When pushed further on the topic, however, Ocasio-Cortez appears to hesitate before admitting that she is not an “expert on geo-politics on this issue.”

This is where the clip ends.

Saavedra’s cynical edit and spin primed the clip for a useful smear narrative that exploded across Twitter and was pushed collectively by far right media outlets. The Gateway Pundit embedded the clip, proclaiming “socialist darling Ocasio-Cortz trashes Israel.” Breitbart News described the situation as embarrassing.

The aim was to trigger outrage among mainstream conservatives who have been traditionally supportive of Israel and the GOP’s pro-Israel policies. 

Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year old socialist and Bronx native who defeated an establishment Democrat in a recent midterm primary, is already a controversial figure because of her left-wing politics, so pundits on the right were eager to utilize this to discredit her.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, which had previously branded the Democrat an anti-Semite and racist, also leapt onboard.

Later in the day, leftists supporters began to also buy into a narrative pushed that Ocasio-Cortez had been apologetic or retreated on her position on Israel-Palestine during same PBS interview, where she said “she may have not used the right words” when calling Israel’s treatment of Palestine an “occupation.

That sparked a backlash among her supporters.

Some were quick to point out that, in fact, at no point did the Democrat apologize for her politics or back pedal on her position.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office has yet to comment on it all but the case as a whole displays the power of the right-wing media ecosystem to push a narrative from one single tweet that causes outrage and mass backlash.

More frighteningly, to create such momentum that even the Democrat’s own supporters started to doubt her.

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*First Published: Jul 16, 2018, 4:15 pm CDT