Friday, June 18

Violence in Gaza unleashes an internal crisis in the Democratic Party


The party’s left wing harshly criticizes President Joe Biden for his defense of Israel’s “colonization” of the Palestinian people.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (center) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (center) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill.E. HOCKSTEINREUTERS
  • Middle east Why is Israel hitting Gaza harder than in previous campaigns?

The hostilities between the Israelis and the Palestinians, with at least 210 dead in a week of bombing in the Gaza Strip, are opening a very visible gap within the Democratic Party. As President Joe Biden’s administration remains steadfast in its position of defending the Israel interests, its main ally in the area, from the most progressive wing of the party understand it as a racial issue within a scenario of “colonization” where the right of the Israelis to defend themselves matters more than that of the Palestinians to survive.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congresswoman from New York, made this clear with a passionate speech last Thursday in the House of Representatives in which she accused the president of siding with “the occupation.” Ocasio-Cortez wondered if the Palestinians have right to survive after Biden’s words justifying the intense Israeli attacks.

The New Yorker’s speech preceded the joint declaration of almost 150 progressive organizations demanding solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemning the “state violence” and the supremacy that Israel is exercising in Jerusalem. They compare the lack of rights of the Palestinian population with the drama of immigrants from the border with Mexico or police brutality in the United States. There is even a hashtag they are using on social media, #PalestinianLivesMatter.

As expected, the first female congresswoman of Palestinian origin, Rashida Tlaib, also intervened. It was used as an example that the Palestinians actually exist and that they are human, in addition to speaking of the “apartheid” that the Israeli state is leading in the region. The response from the more conservative wing came from Ted Deutch, representative for Florida. “If I have to choose between a terrorist organization and a Democratic ally, to be on the side of Israel,” he said from Congress.

In the background, the US blockade of the United Nations Security Council to sign a joint declaration of ceasefire in the region after the emergency meeting on Sunday. That despite the warning of the UN Secretary General, Antnio Guterres, on the violation of international laws involving “indiscriminate attacks against civilians” in the Gaza Strip. “The butcher shop has continued today. This unhinged cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately,” the Portuguese noted.

In the US, calls for a ceasefire have not been limited to the progressive caucus. On Sunday, the Republican senator Todd Young signed a joint declaration with his Connecticut counterpart, Democrat Chris Murphy, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Middle East.

“Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks, commensurate with the threat faced by its citizens,” they said in a statement. “As a result of the Hamas rocket attacks and Israel’s response, both sides must recognize that too many lives have been lost and must not further escalate the conflict.”

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blink, said from Copenhagen that they are investigating the bombing of a building in Gaza that housed various international media, including the US agency Associated Press. Israel has justified the destruction of the 12-story structure by the presence of Hamas “intelligence assets”. The US has limited itself to requesting additional information.

In Washington, Biden is silent for the moment on the political storm unleashed in his party, although a change of position by the president is not expected. These are 50 years of unconditional support for Israel.

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