Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, and other elected Democrats have moved to distance themselves from events that took place at a pro-Palestine rally promoted by the NYC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
On Sunday, a protest in New York organized by the DSA – a group that boasts six members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including members of “the Squad” – took place in Times Square and then advanced down 42nd Street to Bryant Park, close to the Israeli Consulate.
The DSA laid the blame for the attack at Israel’s feet, posting on social media: “Today’s events are a direct result of Israel’s apartheid regime – a regime that receives billions in funding from the United States.”
Demonstrators at the rally also burned and stomped on an Israeli flag and taunted Israel supporters with an image of a swastika. Others exhibited signs that read, “Palestinian return by any means necessary,” “Israeli apartheid & genocide funded by the U.S.” and “End all U.S. aid to Israel!”
In her first take on the rally, Ocasio-Cortez, a member of DSA, told Politico, “It should not be hard to shut down hatred and antisemitism where we see it. That is a core tenet of solidarity.”
“The bigotry and callousness expressed in Times Square on Sunday were unacceptable and harmful in this devastating moment. It also did not speak for the thousands of New Yorkers who are capable of rejecting both Hamas’ horrifying attacks against innocent civilians as well as the grave injustices and violence Palestinians face under occupation,” she added.
New York state Rep. Zohran Mamdani, who was elected with support from DSA and delivered a keynote address at the group’s national convention in August, also spoke out against the “rhetoric at the rally.”
“My support for Palestinian liberation should never be confused for a celebration of the loss of civilian life,” Mamdani told the outlet. “I condemn the killing of civilians and rhetoric at a rally [on Sunday] seeking to make light of such deaths.”
Prior to the rally, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul condemned the planned gathering as “abhorrent and morally repugnant.”
“The people of Israel are facing violent terrorist attacks and civilian kidnappings. I condemn plans to rally in Times Square tomorrow in support of the perpetrators of these horrific actions. The planned rally is abhorrent and morally repugnant,” Hochul wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
During a Monday evening “Stand with Israel” rally at the Congregation Beth Emeth reform synagogue in Albany, Hochul said, “There will be a war, but it will be a just war.”
“Mark my words, I assure you as the governor I will make sure that we leave no stone unturned to find out how we can make sure that every single one of you is safe when you gather, because that is your God-given right to exercise your belief, your religion, your true identity,” she added, according to Spectrum News 1.
Hamas launched thousands of missiles at Israel and invaded towns along the Gaza border on Saturday, killing at least 700 people, a death toll not seen in Israel in decades, wounding thousands more and prompting Israel to declare war against the Iran-backed group. Hamas also took hostages, including young children, Israel has said.
The number those killed in the conflict has surpassed 1,600 dead and thousands wounded on both sides.
Palestinian supporters are urging Israel to halt the killing of civilians as several buildings have been brought down and destroyed during continuous airstrikes on Hamas positions in the densely populated Gaza Strip.
Many Palestinian supporters have said the coverage of the conflict has been one-sided and claim their suffering is never amplified compared to that of their Israeli counterparts.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told President Biden that a ground operation in the Gaza Strip is necessary after Hamas launched deadly strikes on his country.
“Israel is at war. We didn’t want this war,” he said Monday. “It was forced upon us in the most brutal and savage way. But though Israel didn’t start this war, Israel will finish it.”
He said Hamas has “made a mistake of historic proportions. We will exact a price that will be remembered by them and Israel’s other enemies for decades to come.”
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Peter Aitken contributed to this report.