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AOC criticised for 'failed attempt' at defending Iron Dome vote

The US congresswoman’s justifications were described on social media as ‘insulting’ and lacking in substance
Ocasio-Cortez received backlash for "being neutral" (AFP/File photo)

US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come under criticism on social media once again for her contentious decision to vote "present" on the bill to give Israel $1bn for its Iron Dome missile defence system - yet this time it's over her attempt to defend herself.

In an interview with MSNBC's Mehdi Hassan, Ocasio-Cortez - known as AOC - discussed the "disingenuous messaging that both parties were advancing" with regards to funding the air defence system, something that created a very "volatile environment" in her "district", compelling her to vote "present rather than no". 

According to the congresswoman, "In the macro of national impact, I probably should have gone with my values - which would be to vote 'No' - but in the micro, I do believe this created a window in our community to bring all folks to the table." 

Ocasio-Cortez was expected to vote against the measure, having earlier in September introduced an amendment to the annual defence budget bill in which she attempted to prevent Israel from receiving $735m in precision-guided weapons. 

Her interview follows the publication of a four-page statement after receiving backlash for "being neutral", where she gave no reason for shifting her position on the bill but instead noted its "contentious" character, which "ultimately compelled her to cast a Present vote." 

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“I want to be clear that the decision to rush this vote - virtually preventing any member from meaningfully consulting with their community - was both intentional and unnecessary.

"It created a real sense of panic and horror among those in our community who otherwise engage thoughtfully in these discussions, and fuelled the discussion to devolve to a point where it became clear that this vote would risk a severe devolution of the good-faith community fabric that allows us to responsibly join in a struggle for human rights and dignity everywhere - from Palestine to The Bronx and Queens.” 

Ocasio-Cortez ended the statement proclaiming that it “certainly wasn’t the first time people’s wellbeing was tossed aside for political convenience, and sadly I do not believe it will be the last”.

The bill passed the US House by a final tally of 420 to nine, with two Democrats voting present. Critics of the measure accused it of militarily funding a country engaged in human rights abuses and failing to address the safety of Palestinians. 

The Iron Dome system was developed by Israel, with generous financial backing from successive US administrations, in the wake of the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Today, it ostensibly serves to neutralise short-range, largely improvised rockets fired intermittently out of Gaza.

Word salad

Along with her crying on the Senate floor, many went to social media to criticise the congresswoman's "insulting justification" on the Mehdi Hassan Show, which provided, according to one user, "no actual substance or explanation for how the decision affects Palestinian lives".

Her somewhat vague response to the issue of why she voted present prompted comments from many who were perplexed by the "word salad" she employed to explain her contentious vote.

Others questioned her conceptions of "bringing people to the table", speculating on the kind of "discussions" that would include financing Israeli military defence systems at the cost of Palestinian life.

Previously, Ocasio-Cortez's decision to vote present brought about accusations of political calculations and cowardice. Video footage showed the congresswoman crying after the vote, which was labelled by many as "crocodile tears", with her interview on Monday only "proving her vote was a calculated decision to make sure she does not lose her seat in the next election", one Twitter user wrote.

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