An Offer from Palestine, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez

Following is the text of an invitation from Amal Wahdan, on behalf of herself and the rest of the Steering Committee of the Free Palestine Movement, for congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit Palestine.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortes won the Democratic primary election for New York State’s 14th congressional district on June 26, 2018. Two things were surprising and encouraging about her victory.  First, she won against the heavily favored incumbent, the Chair of the New York Democratic Caucus, Joseph Crowley.

Second, she called the actions of the state of Israel “a massacre” for its shooting of more than 3000 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza during the nonviolent demonstrations that were happening during her campaign. It is exceptionally unusual for a congressional candidate to win even a primary election after criticizing Israel in this way.

Following her victory, The Israel Lobby went to work, most visibly in a letter from Rabbi Andy Bachman, an admitted Zionist, inviting Ocasio-Cortez to come to Israel with him.

Historically, the Lobby has dominated this issue in Congress, with a relatively weak response from Palestinians and their supporters. This time, however, the Free Palestine Movement (FPM), a small, tax-exempt nonprofit in California, decided that the candidate deserved an invitation from the Palestinian side.

The result is the letter below, which is being hand delivered to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez by one of the FPM Steering Committee members. The FPM advocates a state that is neither Jewish nor any other religion or race, but which welcomes them all. They oppose any state defined by a particular race or religion, especially when it requires expulsion and marginalization of one population in order to replace it with another.

The FPM recognizes the realities of political life in the US but hopes to contribute to changing those realities in creative and meaningful ways, as do many other groups working for justice in Palestine.

*****

July 10, 2018

Dear Ms. Ocasio-Cortez,

Congratulations on your victory that has inspired so many throughout the US and the world and which encourages us to believe that people and communities can come together to stand for justice and dignity for all, and achieve victory through movement-building. 

I write to you as a Palestinian and an American seeking a US policy based on those principles, not on continued support for intervention, occupation and aggression. You have made statements that give us hope for justice, and we want to work with you to build a new U.S. foreign policy that puts an end to the denial of Palestinian rights and the support for a state that expelled more than half the Palestinian population during the past 70 years. Today, there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. Israel is still denying them their right to return to their homes and unify their families.

We ask the US only to support our rights under international law, and to recover what has been taken from us. Although the Zionists came as invaders and oppressors, we do not ask that they leave, only that they end the oppression, so that we all may live with dignity, justice and equality rather than as conqueror and conquered.  This is the only way to stop the bloodshed and achieve peace and security in this part of the world.

We have already seen the attacks on you for speaking out in support of Palestinian human rights and attempts to pressure you into changing your opinion or accepting sponsored tours of the Israeli state and its military-industrial complex. On the other hand, I would like to invite you to a people’s tour of Palestine, including what many consider to be Israel. You will meet with community leaders representing a wide spectrum of the population and many different points of view, from various faith traditions and social sectors, including Muslims, Christians and Jews who are community organizers, workers, farmers, teachers, university professors, labor activists and human rights defenders.

We are known for our hospitality and promise an unforgettable experience worth a lifetime of memories.  Please call and let’s talk about it.

With best wishes for your continued success in the November election and beyond,

Amal Wahdan, for the Free Palestine Movement

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement. Read other articles by Paul.