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For decades it was seen as too politically risky, but this midterm cycle a growing number of Democratic candidates have begun openly criticizing some of Israel’s policies.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first-time candidate who upset 10-term incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley in last month’s Democratic primary, incorporated criticism of Israel’s actions into her campaign, condemning what she called a recent “massacre” in Gaza and calling on more Democrats to focus on the struggle of Palestinians.

“There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in May.

In 2018 alone, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed during clashes with Israel’s security forces. In May, at least 58 protesters were killed demonstrating against the U.S. opening a new embassy in Jerusalem.

Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet drew the type of condemnation and backlash that politicians could expect whenever saying anything negative about Israel. The Republican Jewish Coalition, for instance, immediately took a shot at Ocasio-Cortez, calling her victory “a harbinger of the decline of Democrats’ support for Israel.”

Still, Ocasio-Cortez won the primary, causing shockwaves throughout the Democratic Party. She is one of several progressives who has increasingly called out Israel’s actions — and the political gamble seems to be paying off.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned Israel, arguably clearing a path for Democratic candidates to break with party tradition and criticize the U.S. ally.

During a debate in New York, Sanders, who is independent, called Israel’s intervention in Gaza “disproportionate” and called on the U.S. to “treat Palestinian people with respect and dignity.”

This midterm cycle, Sanders’ legacy political organization, Our Revolution, backed a Democratic candidate in South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, Mal Hyman, who had spent time working on human rights in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza….