By Michael Nolan
US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) was denounced by protesters at two events in Austin last Saturday over her support for Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine and its genocidal war against Palestinians. Ocasio-Cortez was in Austin to speak at a morning rally for Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member and congressional candidate Greg Casar, who recently pledged to continue funding Israel’s military should he be elected. AOC was also denounced for her theatrics surrounding her “present” vote last fall on a bill to fund Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system.
On Saturday morning, as a line of attendees waited outside the venue hosting the event for Casar and Ocasio-Cortez, protesters approached on the sidewalk chanting, “Expose these opportunist lies: Fight, fight, fight for Palestine!” through an amplified sound system and handed out flyers denouncing the politicians.
The group was waving a Palestinian flag and carried a banner that read, “AOC and Greg Casar support the genocide of Palestinians” and another reading, “US imperialism cannot be voted away—fight for socialist revolution!”
As they continued to chant, three police officers arrived and pressed the protesters to move across the street, despite the sidewalk being public right of way. A marching band from the rally quickly filled the space in front of the venue, protected by the police.
Inside the venue, Casar spoke first, followed by Ocasio-Cortez. As Ocasio-Cortez spoke, a supporter of Palestine interrupted her, saying, “Greg Casar is a public supporter of the Israeli State. You endorse Greg Casar!” he said. In a letter written to an Austin rabbi in January, Casar stated, “In Congress I will support the continued federal aid for self-defense of Israel.”
Referring to the imperialist congresswoman crying as she cast a “present” vote on Israel’s missile defense, the audience member told Ocasio-Cortez, “Your tears on the house floor will not stop the deaths of Palestinian children.”
Ocasio-Cortez replied, “No, that’s not true” as some attendees began to chant “AOC” in order to drown out the audience member, who was soon escorted out by venue staff. Disregarding Casar’s stated position, Ocasio-Cortez replied, “I want to be unequivocal: we are here to stand up for the rights of Palestinians and Palestinian children.”
Later that afternoon, Ocasio-Cortez spoke at an Austin DSA-sponsored event at Pan American Park in East Austin to promote the ‘Green New Deal,’ an imperialist economic plan to supposedly address climate change. Casar was not in attendance in the afternoon, after requesting that the local DSA chapter withdraw its endorsement of him earlier this month.
As Ocasio-Cortez started to speak from the outdoor stage covered in a mural highlighting the long struggle of the Mexican people against foreign domination, she was immediately interrupted by an audience member* shouting, “You refused to fight tooth and nail against the Iron Dome’s funding!”
Sidestepping the audience member’s point, Ocasio-Cortez repeated her empty statement that she stands for “the rights of Palestinians and Palestinian kids.”
As she began to change the topic, the chant of “AOC, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” started to build in the distance as the pro-Palestinian protesters from the earlier event approached. AOC paused and opportunistically called for the crowd to cheer the protesters, saying, “Frankly, this is the kind of organizing we need to do,” but quickly sought to move on, saying she would not be “distracted.”
As she spoke, the chants loudly continued as protesters hung their banners over the fence erected around the event. The activists banged on the fence while private security moved in to ensure the protesters did not knock the fence over. Several attendees of the event and at least one organizer went out to antagonize the protesters, and after an extended verbal confrontation, the protesters left.
* The individual identified himself later as Keaten Mansfield, a member of the Center for Political Innovation, a revisionist (false Marxist) group which supports Russian imperialism as well as bureaucrat capitalist regimes in the third world, such as the ruling class of Venezuela.
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