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Ocasio-Cortez Promises To ‘Learn And Evolve’ On Israeli-Palestinian Issues

After drawing criticism during her primary campaign for her harsh statements about Israel, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told PBS on Friday that she’s beginning to look at issues like the Israel-Palestinian conflict differently.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted “This is a massacre…Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore” in May after Israel killed 60 Gazans on the border.

But appearing on the show “Firing Line,” Ocasio-Cortez’s stance appeared that have softened. She said that she wrote that tweet “as an activist,” and now promises to “learn and evolve on this issue,” admitting that she is not an expert on Middle East affairs.

Ocasio-Cortez explained that she believes in Israel’s right to exist and advocates for a two-state solution. The tweet, she said, came from a humanitarian-crisis angle.

“For me, the lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist, as an organizer: If 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx – unarmed – 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico … it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores,” she said.”

Ocasio-Cortez also referred to “the occupation of Palestine.” When asked by host Margaret Hoover what she meant by the phrase, Ocasio-Cortez got flustered and apologized: “I am not the expert on geo-politics on this issue…I may not use the right words.”

“I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background. And Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night,” she said. “But I also recognize that this is an intensely-important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country. And I think at least what is important to communicate is that I am willing to listen.”

Ocasio-Cortez won a historic upset victory in the Democratic primary in her congressional district in Queens and the Bronx in June and will likely sail to a general election victory in November.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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