Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Palestinians stand near ruins of buildings destroyed by ongoing Israeli airsrtikes in Beit Lahia, Gaza on May 13, 2021.

Palestinians stand near ruins of buildings destroyed by ongoing Israeli airsrtikes in Beit Lahia, Gaza on May 13, 2021. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

AOC Says Biden's Refusal to Condemn Israeli Attacks on Palestinians 'Takes a Side—the Side of Occupation'

The New York Democrat criticized Biden for failing to acknowledge "what precipitated this cycle of violence—namely, the expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al-Aqsa."

Jake Johnson

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday evening that President Joe Biden's "blanket" remarks emphasizing Israel's right to self-defense effectively excuse the country's human rights violations as it continues to assail the occupied Gaza Strip and brutally repress Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

"Blanket statements like these with little context or acknowledgement of what precipitated this cycle of violence—namely, the expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al-Aqsa—dehumanize Palestinians." 
—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Speaking to reporters, Biden said that "Israel has a right to defend itself" from rocket attacks emanating from Gaza and expressed hope that the latest round of violence—which observers fear could descend into all-out war—will "be closing down sooner than later."

But the president, who mentioned his earlier phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, notably did not denounce Israel's attacks on worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound earlier this week, nor did he condemn Israel's killing of civilians and destruction of residential buildings with airstrikes on Gaza—an ongoing bombing campaign that has left more than 80 Palestinians dead.

"Blanket statements like these with little context or acknowledgement of what precipitated this cycle of violence—namely, the expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al-Aqsa—dehumanize Palestinians and imply the U.S. will look the other way at human rights violations. It's wrong," said Ocasio-Cortez, echoing other critics' depiction of Biden's comments as a "green light" for Israel to continue its deadly attacks.

"By only stepping in to name Hamas' actions—which are condemnable—and refusing to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians, Biden reinforces the false idea that Palestinians instigated this cycle of violence," the New York Democrat continued. "This is not neutral language. It takes a side—the side of occupation."

Jewish Voice for Peace Action, a progressive advocacy organization, applauded Ocasio-Cortez's response to the president, tweeting: "This is not a complicated situation. The Biden administration is defending a government that is forcibly displacing Palestinians from their homes, assaulting Palestinian worshipers, and raining bombs on an open air prison."

In a readout of Biden's call with Netanyahu on Wednesday, the White House said the president "conveyed his unwavering support for Israel's security and for Israel's legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians."

Earlier this week, a State Department spokesperson refused to say whether the Biden administration believes that Palestinians have the same right to self-defense as the Israelis.

As U.S. officials publicly insist they are doing all they can to deescalate the violence, the Biden administration on Wednesday continued to block the release of a United Nations Security Council statement aimed at reducing tensions. Agence France-Presse reported that 14 of the 15 members of the body supported adopting the joint statement, with the U.S. remaining the lone opponent.

"During a first emergency meeting on Monday, the United States also refused to back a text proposed by Tunisia, Norway, and China calling on all parties to refrain from provocation," AFP noted.

Kate Kizer, policy director with U.S.-based advocacy group Win Without War, slammed the Biden administration's stonewalling of the U.N. Security Council statement, warning that "shielding other governments from accountability for violations of the 'international rules-based order' simply because it's politically expedient gives a blank check for others to do the same."

"We are actively creating the culture of impunity that drives our collective insecurity," Kizer said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·


Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards," said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. "That's what this bill does."

Brett Wilkins ·


Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo