House Dems visit Israel after AOC claimed it ‘cages’ Palestinian kids

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House Dems visit Israel after AOC claimed it 'cages' Palestinian kids

Fourteen House Democrats visited Israel on Monday and expressed their love for the Jewish state — a week after socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested Israel cages Palestinian kids.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, representing Manhattan and the Bronx, tweeted a selfie at the Wailing Wall with Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, repping Brooklyn and Queens, and Peter Aguilar of California.

“Today, I’m in Israel with@RepPeteAguilar and@RepJeffries
— to reaffirm our support for a critical U.S. ally, and to continue learning about the opportunities and challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” wrote Espaillat, co-chairman of the Latino-Jewish caucus.

Rep. Ritchie Torres of the Bronx was also there.

“I proud to join my Democratic colleagues in meeting with Israeli leadership and affirming, in no uncertain terms, our commitment to not only sustaining but also strengthening the American-Israeli relationship,” Torres said in a text from the “Land of Milk and Honey.”

Torres blasted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

“BDS is a fringe movement that fails to represent the overwhelming majority of Americans. Our message is clear: the United States is and will always be a friend of Israel,” he said.

Rep. Ritchie Torres attended the trip and criticized the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Rep. Ritchie Torres attended the trip and criticized the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Photo by Lev Radin/Sipa USA

The visit by Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic colleagues comes just days after she was roundly condemned by local Jewish activists for claiming that Israel cages Palestinian kids.

“I don’t believe that a child should be in a cage on our border, and I don’t believe a child should be in a cage in the West Bank,” AOC said while speaking at a Democratic Socialists of America event and stumping for House candidates in Austin, Texas, last week.

An AOC rep later defended her remark, citing reports by Human Right Watch and other groups saying Israel detains Palestinian youths.

AOC did not take part in the congressional trip to Israel.

The trip will also include a visit to the disputed West Bank territory to talk to Palestinians, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who is leading the delegation.

Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was one of the 14 Democrats on the trip.
Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was one of the 14 Democrats on the trip.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

“I am pleased once again to join so many House Democrats in traveling to Israel to reaffirm our support for a critical U.S. ally and to continue learning about the opportunities and the challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” Hoyer said.

“Seeing the region firsthand and meeting with key Israeli and Palestinian leaders gives members insights into a region that is vital both to our own national interests and to global security.”

The delegation also is meeting with senior Israeli and Palestinian government officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat said he went to Israel to "reaffirm our support for a critical US ally."
Rep. Adriano Espaillat said he went to Israel to “reaffirm our support for a critical US ally.”
Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The congressional group will also meet with Israeli civil leaders, young Palestinian entrepreneurs and advocates for a two-state solution, Hoyer said.

Members will visit Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria, too, and tour an Iron Dome missile defense site. The delegation will also visit important historical and cultural sites as well as Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Holocaust.

The trip is organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, a not-for-profit group.

Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks at a Democratic Socialists of America event in Texas last week.
Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks at a Democratic Socialists of America event in Texas last week.
Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Espaillat, during a recent interview with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, spoke of his close ties to the Jewish community in his district, which includes Washington Heights, Harlem in northern Manhattan and Fordham, Kingsbridge and Norwood in the northwest Bronx.

A native of the Dominican Republic, he discussed how the DR was one of the few countries to accept Jewish refugees in the late 1930s during the Holocaust.

Jewish settlers built a community in Sosua that still exists today.

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