News

Ocasio-Cortez says she has Jewish heritage during Hanukkah event

'...my family consisted of Sephardic Jews'

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) told attendees of a Hanukkah event that she has Jewish ancestry Sunday night, according to NBC News.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican woman who was raised Catholic, made the revelation at a Jews for Racial and Economic Justice event in Queens, and received applause for the announcement.

Here's how she told it:

"One of the things that we discovered about ourselves is that a very long time ago, generations and generations ago, my family consisted of Sephardic Jews. And ... the story goes that during the Spanish Inquisition, so many people were forced to convert on the exterior to Catholicism, but on the interior, continued to practice their faith, continued to be who they were, even though they were pressured to not be that on the outside world.

Sephardic Jews are those who originated in Spain and Portugal.

Sensing criticism for her claim, Ocasio-Cortez attempted to add some context on Twitter on Monday.

"Before everyone jumps on me—yes, culture isn't DNA," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "But to be Puerto Rican is to be the descendant of: African Moors + slaves, Taino Indians, Spanish colonizers, Jewish refugees, and likely others. We are all of these things and something else all at once—we are Boricua."

What does she think about Israel?

Ocasio-Cortez's views on Israel are somewhat murky. During a July interview with "Firing Line" host Margaret Hoover, Ocasio-Cortez said she believes "absolutely in Israel's right to exist" and said she supported a two-state solution.

Before that, she had criticized the killing of Palestinian protesters, most of whom were members of the Hamas terrorist group, as a "massacre." She defended that comment by saying she was viewing the situation "as an activist, as an organizer."

"But I also think that what people are starting to see at least in the occupation of Palestine [is] just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue," Ocasio-Cortez said, before conceding that "I am not an expert on geopolitics on this issue" and "I may not use the right words."

"Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night," she said.

One last thing…
Watch TheBlaze live and on demand on any device, anywhere, anytime.
try premium
Exclusive video
All Videos
Watch live and on demand on any device, anywhere, anytime.
Start a FREE Trial
Worth a look
Newsletter

Get the news that matters most delivered to your inbox.