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Unlike AOC, this Bronx House Democrat backs Israel as it's under fire

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/21/2021 Kerry Picket
Ritchie Torres smiling for the camera © Provided by Washington Examiner

On most issues, Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York aligns with his Bronx House district neighbor, left-wing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But they split when it comes to Israel, with Torres among the most prominent supporters of the Jewish state in House Democratic progressive ranks — particularly while the country was under attack from Hamas rockets for 10 days before Thursday's ceasefire.

A first-term lawmaker representing the New York's 15th Congressional District, including the southern portion of West Bronx and the South Bronx, Torres in January replaced former Rep. Jose Serrano, a Democrat who held the seat for more than 30 years.

Torres recently noted that his steadfast support of Israel has drawn criticism.

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“The moment I sent out a statement denouncing the terrorism of Hamas, I was swiftly demonized by extremists as a white supremacist, as a supporter of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide," Torres said at a recent United Jewish Appeal-sponsored event. "Although these comments cause great pain to my loved ones, I remain as determined as ever to speak out. And if I can speak out, then anyone can. And everyone must.”

Other young Democratic liberals, however, were quick to criticize Israel, including Ocasio-Cortez, who called Israel an “apartheid state.” She and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, another "Squad" member, introduced a House resolution to block an arms sale to Israel.

Torres, however, found that he was attacked on Twitter for his remarks in defense of Israel. An openly gay black-Latino man whose district is adjacent to Ocasio-Cortez’s, he ran on a progressive platform. In an interview with Jewish Insider last year, Torres said he was pro-Israel, “not despite my progressive values but because of my progressive values.”

Congressman Ritchie Torres (D) speaks during an "I Want My Miracle Back" rally, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. Members of the Yemeni community and local leaders are calling for the White House to reconsider admitting visa lottery winners who were denied access during the previous administration. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) John Minchillo/AP © Provided by Washington Examiner Congressman Ritchie Torres (D) speaks during an "I Want My Miracle Back" rally, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. Members of the Yemeni community and local leaders are calling for the White House to reconsider admitting visa lottery winners who were denied access during the previous administration. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) John Minchillo/AP

Torres and Ocasio-Cortez share district boundaries and party identification, but when it comes to Israel, the similarities end there.

He was a delegate for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and did not seek out an alliance with Ocasio-Cortez or the fringe in his party that supports the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement, which aims to eliminate Israel through economic isolation.

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“My concern is that BDS poisons whatever it touches. There is a deep rot of antisemitism at the core of BDS, and I view it as an insidious form of antisemitism,” he told Jewish Insider. “I am concerned about the normalization of BDS within the progressive movement, and I worry deeply that BDS has the potential to poison progressivism.”

Tags: News, Israel, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York, anti-Semitism

Original Author: Kerry Picket

Original Location: Unlike AOC, this Bronx House Democrat backs Israel as it's under fire

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