The AIPAC-sponsored trip dates back decades and is intended for newly-elected members of Congress.
United States Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will not join other new congress members on a trip to Israel affiliated with the pro-Israeli lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a spokesperson said Wednesday.
“She wants to make sure that she’s getting a full picture of what daily life is like in the region,” Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, told the Forward adding, “We’re just not making any plans for taking trips right now.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who recently announced that she comes from a lineage of Sephardic Jews who fled Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, has remained somewhat unsteady on issues around Israel and Palestine.
“I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background. And Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night,” she said in an interview with PBS.
“But I also recognize that this is an intensely important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country. And I think at least what is important to communicate is that I am willing to listen.”
Her fellow freshman legislator, Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress, has also turned down the AIPAC trip.
Instead, she is planning to lead a congressional delegation to West Bank, Palestine in order to present an alternative perspective on the conflict between Israel and the occupied territory.
“I don’t think AIPAC provides a real, fair lens into this issue. It’s one-sided," Tlaib told The Intercept. "They don’t show the side that I know is real, which is what’s happening to my grandmother and what’s happening to my family there.”
Her delegation to Palestine is something of an admonishment of a traditional junket to Israel sponsored by the pro-Israel lobby group. "I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region,” Tlaib said.