What a Twitter fight between AOC and Jared Moskowitz over Israel reveals about the Democrats

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during a press conference with other Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and House Judiciary Committee during a break in the closed-door deposition of Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, in the O’Neill House Office Building on February 28, 2024 in Washington, DC. The meeting is part of the Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

On Wednesday evening, Democratic Representatives Jared Moskowitz of Florida and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got into a social media feud.

The tiff began when Moskowitz, who is Jewish, quote-tweeted a statement from Senator Bernie Sanders condemning the fact that the Senate passed a massive foreign aid package to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan without a vote on an amendment Sanders proposed. That amendment would have required the United States to not give unfettered aid to Israel.

“Bernie, now do antisemitism,” Moskowitz tweeted. “Why so quiet?”

Moskowitz’s implication was fairly clear: Sanders, who is also Jewish and who once lived on a kibbutz in Israel, supposedly did not care about his fellow Jewish Americans as many of them fear rising antisemitism.

Ocasio-Cortez came to the defence of Sanders, her political mentor, noting how his family was killed in the Holocaust.

“He and many other Jewish leaders deserve better than to be treated this way. This is shameful,” she wrote.

In response, Moskowitz tweeted that he also had family members who died in the Holocaust and said that was why he voted to provide aid to Israel and Gaza. “We see each other at work,” he added. “We are both better than doing this here.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded by asking why Moskowitz liked a tweet from comedian Michael Rapaport telling Ocasio-Cortez to “f**k off.”

The tense exchange showed just how much Israel’s war in Gaza has divided House Democrats.

Ocasio-Cortez and Moskowitz are allies in many ways. Both are a breed of media-literate younger Democrats and prolific tweeters who know how to needle Republicans.

On the Oversight Committee, they serve as part of what ranking Democrat Jamie Raskin dubs the “Truth Squad,” the coterie of Democrats pushing back against the House GOP’s wild goose chase of an impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden that has gone nowhere. Despite being younger than Moskowitz, as the number-two Democrat behind Raskin, Ocasio-Cortez has largely continued her role as the best-prepared questioner.

Moskowitz seems to relish trolling Republicans, wearing a Donald Trump mask to one of the Biden impeachment inquiry hearings and putting up a poster of Trump with the late child predator Jeffrey Epstein the day that the president’s son Hunter Biden showed up. Mosowitz’s antics — and his penchant for wearing blue suits with sneakers — once enraged Republican Chairman James Comer to the point he said, “You look like a Smurf.” Both Moskowitz and AOC play a role in gumming up the machinations of House Republicans.

But ever since the Israel-Hamas war, the two have often been on opposite sides. Earlier this week, Ocasio-Cortez — as well as Sanders and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts — joined Biden for an Earth Day appearance. There, AOC praised “peaceful, student-led protests [against the Gaza war] on campuses like Columbia, Yale, Berkeley.”

Conversely, Moskowitz — along with fellow Jewish Democratic Representatives Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Dan Goldman of New York and Kathy Manning of North Carolina — visited Columbia and called on the university to take actions to protect Jewish students from demonstrations. Though many Jewish students have joined the demonstrations at Columbia and other universities, others have said they fear antisemitism from pro-Palestinian activists.

Last weekend, Moskowitz and a majority of Democrats voted to authorise aid to Israel as part of the foreign assistance package. Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, voted against aid to Israel while she also voted to assist Ukraine and Taiwan.

Indeed, the rest of the “Squad” — the progressive coterie of Democrats that informally includes not just Ocasio-Cortez but also Representatives Jamaal Bowman of New York, Delia Ramirez of Illinois, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, Cori Bush of Missouri, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — voted against aid to Israel. More notably, Raskin and Becca Balint of Vermont, both of whom are Jewish and also support a ceasefire in Gaza, opposed aid to Israel as well.

In November of last year, Moskowitz and Goldman joined 20 other Democrats in censuring Tlaib, the House’s only Palestinian-American congresswoman, over her remarks about Gaza and Israel. Raskin for his part vociferously defended Tlaib, and stated that he was defending her specifically because he is a proud Jewish American.

As readers of Inside Washington know by this point, Republicans are largely divided when it comes to tactics even though they are largely united on policy, while Democrats do have serious policy differences, but once they come to a consensus, they typically move together. For all the memes about “Dems in Disarray,” their movement as a unit — forged under former speaker Nancy Pelosi which she handed off to Hakeem Jeffries — has allowed them to beat Republican obstructionism.

But the Israel-Hamas war and the rift it has caused in the party could threaten the survival of that powerful trait. This week, Lee, the progressive Squad member from Pennsylvania, beat back a primary challenger backed by supporters of Israel. But her fellow Squad members such as Bowman and Bush face similar challenges. And there are no signs of a truce within the party, if the tweets are to be believed.