(RNS) — Dear Rep. Ocasio-Cortez:
For some time, I had admired you from afar — your guts, verve and your refreshing demeanor.
I have disagreed with you on many things, but I respected you. When others referred to the Squad — you, Rep. Omar, Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Pressley — I made every possible effort to disentangle you from the blanket accusations of anti-Israel sentiment. Oh, of course, Omar and Tlaib are anti-Israel, I would say to my interlocutors — but not AOC.
Yes, you publicly criticized Israel’s policies — but, then again, who hasn’t?
True, again — when Netanyahu barred Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel so that they could visit the West Bank, which caused you to cancel your own plans to visit Israel — well, that was a foolish move on Bibi’s part, and you should have gone anyway, I said …
So, I am not one of those right-wingers who just lives to criticize the Democrats, especially those who are to my left.
But, now, you decide to skip a memorial commemoration for the late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, on the 25th anniversary of his assassination.
Why? Because you got anti-Israel backlash. Because the late Rabin infamously threatened to break the bones of Palestinians during the Intifada.
Far be it from me, an American Jew, to make excuses for a dead Israeli prime minister.
But, let’s remember something here. This was in the middle of a you-know-what show in which Israelis were being blown to smithereens in pizzerias, coffee shops and on the street. Heads were flying off bodies.
No, Rabin was not being “nice.” It was not a nice time.
But, with all that, have you considered the larger picture?
Have you ever considered why there is a memorial commemoration for Rabin?
Because Rabin had the monumental chutzpah to actually attempt to make peace with the Palestinians.
Because he had the temerity to shake the blood-stained hand of PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat on the White House lawn.
Because he had the wisdom to say that you don’t make peace with your friends, but rather, with your enemies.
Yes, that was why Yigal Amir assassinated him. It was only moments after Rabin got up publicly to sing a well-known Israeli peace anthem.
Did you even know under whose auspices this commemoration is to occur?
Americans for Peace Now — a well-known, left-leaning group. A group that contains many of your friends and supporters.
You bowed to pressure from the anti-Israel people — because anything that you would have done in connection to Israel — short of going on CNN and calling Netanyahu every name in the book and demanding that Israel withdraw to the 1917 lines (i.e., disappear) could never appease that crowd.
They are simply haters.
You threw your lot in with them.
You blew it. Badly.
It’s not only that you dissed the memory of Rabin.
It’s not only that you dissed Israel.
It is six weeks to the election, and you just handed the Republicans an early Hannukah gift.
I can hear Jews saying to each other: “She refused to go to Israel; she refused to honor Rabin! We told you so! That’s where the Democratic Party is now.”
Now, I will be clear. Your demurral on honoring Rabin is not — I repeat, not — anything close to the policy of the Democratic Party. Neither are the feelings of your anti-Israel “friends.”
But, as I write this, I am looking out my window in West Palm Beach — and if I strain my ears, I can actually hear that conversation. “She refused to honor Israel, so….”
In case you are wondering, I live in the place that is Ground Zero for American democracy. This is one of those places that will decide the future of this nation.
Tomorrow evening (Sept. 27) is the beginning of Yom Kippur. We are all going to be stuck in synagogue — wait, no, that was last year. We are all going to be on our screens for most of the day.
We will be asking forgiveness.
In the words of that old Levy’s rye bread ad: you don’t have to be Jewish — to ask forgiveness.
Do it. Please. It is not too late.
Go to the commemoration. Heal your relationship with the Jewish community — before any more fissures develop.
You can do it.
Jesse Jackson did.
And, he called New York “Hymietown.”
There is time, but not much time.
Change your mind.
(To all those who observe — a meaningful Yom Kippur. Join me at services at Temple Israel in West Palm Beach — starting at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow evening; 10:30 a.m. on Monday — and various times during the day — including yizkor memorial service at 4:30 p.m. Monday. The amazing Neshama Carlebach is providing soulful music and a special musical presentation at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.)