AOC Backs Out of Rabin Memorial Event After BDS Backlash

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 18, 2020.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 18, 2020.Credit: Democratic National Convention via AP

NEW YORK – Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has decided not to attend a memorial event for late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the group sponsoring the event confirmed.

The progressive New York representative reconsidered her attendance after backlash from activists associated with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The virtual event, organized by Americans for Peace Now, is planned for October 20, and will commemorating 25 years since Rabin's assassination by Israeli far-right activist Yigal Amir at a Tel Aviv rally. Ocasio-Cortez, according to organizers, would speak on “fulfilling the courageous Israeli leader’s mission for peace and justice today in the U.S. and Israel.”

But quickly after advertisements for the event were posted on social media, criticism poured in from activists calling Ocasio-Cortez out for showing “total contempt for Palestinian lives.”

Rabin's granddaughter, Noa Rothman, charged Ocasio-Cortez with "populism" in a tweet before the official confirmation of her decision to drop out of the event. "After all, it was my late grandfather [Y]itzhak Rabin, who said: You make peace with your enemies – not with your friends. Due to This brave historical act he was assassinated. But off course populism is easier."

Americans for Peace Now said in a statement confirming Ocasio-Cortez's decision not to participate: "We are sorry to hear that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will no longer be speaking at our Oct. 20th Yitzhak Rabin memorial. Her participation would have added to the event." 

The American Jewish Congress group slammed Ocasio-Cortez's decision to withdraw from the event, saying that by doing so, sh  "distanced herself from the principle of supporting those who seek engagement to foster peace." The group's statement lamented that the event had "been dragged into the cancel culture that plagues our current politics."

Ali Abunimah, a leading BDS activist and co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, a website covering Palestinian issues, said the congresswoman's planned attendance was “just disgusting” and called Rabin an “unrepentant war criminal.”

“Please don't do this AOC," one man wrote on Twitter. "Yitzhak Rabin was a terrorist and Israel has never even honored the Oslo Accords,” which Rabin brokered and signed alongside Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993.

According to journalist Alex Kane, “In the United States, Rabin is viewed as a liberal peacemaker but Palestinians remember him for his brutal rule suppressing Palestinian protest during the First Intifada, as someone who reportedly ordered the breaking of Palestinian bones.”

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