On Tuesday, April 19, a group of several thousand Jewish Israelis got together in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square for a nice, quaint little “Death to the Arabs” protest. Interestingly, on the same day–and at practically the same time, taking into account time zone differences–California Assembly Bill 2844 was being approved by the state’s Judiciary Committee.
The protest was the latest ugly manifestation of racism in an apartheid state which for a number of decades now has pursued a policy of land theft and occupation. The California bill, officially titled the “California Combating the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel Act of 2016,” would impose stiff penalties on those participating in a boycott of precisely that same state.
Clearly what we had on April 19 was a rather curious–one might almost even think of it as “divine”–confluence of events.
“It is always the right time to fight against discrimination and hate speech, and today the Republicans are honored to stand strong in this bipartisan fight,” said state Assemblyman Travis Allen, who supports the bill.
So pause and consider: here we have Israeli citizens gathering in large numbers to issue a call for mass murder–but in this California lawmaker’s view, the parties guilty of “hate speech” are those participating in a boycott of Israel. The irony is certainly not lost upon the sane (or that is to say, the dwindling percentage of Americans who still fall into the “sane” category), but of course looking for sanity in the US political sphere these days is about like searching for a needle in a haystack.
And precisely for that reason it should not surprise us that Allen went on to say:
California and Israel have historically stood together as allies due to our unique bond founded on shared values, a bilateral trade relationship, and our unwavering commitment to freedom and democracy. It is unconscionable for our state to do business with companies that play politics and boycott our critical allies.
Don’t you just love it when US politicians talk about our putative “shared values” with the Netanyahu crowd? I’m waiting for when America officially becomes recognized as a “Jewish state” in its own right. Certainly Israel should not be the only country in the world to hold that distinction.
The April 19th protest was called to show support for Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier who got caught on videotape executing a severely wounded Palestinian with a gunshot to the the head on March 24. The video went viral–which is the only reason Azarya was ever even arrested and charged–and a good many Israelis, who don’t really regard Palestinians as “human beings,” strictly speaking, are grievously miffed that such a big deal has been made of the whole thing. I mean, c’mon! He’s just a Palestinian! And it’s a rotten shame poor little Elor was inconvenienced by having to spend a few nights behind bars (no word on whether he was given a padded cell, though perhaps that might have been advisable). At any rate, the passions of opinionated Zionist-homelanders have reached a fever pitch on the issue.
Azarya’s mother was quoted by Israeli media in a written appeal addressed directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
I ask you now, as the mother of a fighter, please do everything you can to make sure my son comes home. Enough is enough, I write to you with hands shaking, with a lump in my throat, [as] my family is falling apart. Every moment without my son, we are growing weaker.
Apparently suffering Jewish moms have a way of tugging on the prime minister’s heartstrings. Netanyahu issued a plea for leniency, and indeed the the court downgraded the charges to manslaughter–but this, it seems, wasn’t enough to appease the screaming mobs. The protest, organized by several prominent Israeli entertainers, went ahead anyway.
Thousands of people here. So much for "liberal" Tel Aviv. This is fascist Israel. pic.twitter.com/quAOx3t8Jd
— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) April 19, 2016
The crowd predictably turned violent. One of those attacked and beaten was alternative journalist David Sheen.
After being beaten by TelAviv mob rallying to support killer Israeli soldier, cops gave me ultimatum: A night in jail or go home immediately
— David Sheen (@davidsheen) April 19, 2016
According to the Electronic Intifada, Sheen was detained by police and ordered to leave the area:
Sheen told The Electronic Intifada he arrived at Rabin Square before the rally began but as several hundred people had already gathered. Some asked him to film them with their signs supporting Azarya.
At that point, Sheen said, a man began asking him why he was filming. Other members of the crowd quickly began joining in, shouting at Sheen, “Are you B’Tselem? Go to Gaza!”
Sheen said he tried to remain calm and exit the square but the increasingly agitated mob followed him and began to surround and kick him.
He was then grabbed by a police officer and extracted. Sheen said police took his camera equipment and questioned him. After he told them he was a journalist, they said he either had to leave immediately or face a night in jail. Sheen said he chose to leave and that police returned his equipment.
Well, it was considerate of the Israeli police to give Sheen, who is Jewish, his camera back. Maybe Israel’s not such a bad place after all! And that certainly is the predominant opinion of lawmakers in California.
Assembly Bill 2844 was introduced by Richard Bloom, a Democrat and a member of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. The measure will prohibit the state from contracting with any business that engages in a boycott of Israel. Two other similar bills are AB 1551 and AB 1552–both anti-BDS measures and both introduced by Allen, who is a Republican. 1552, much like 2844, will require businesses to pledge in their state contracts that they are not boycotting Israel. 1551 would prohibit California trust funds, including the California Public Employees Retirement System, from being invested in businesses that support boycotts of Israel.
Allen, by the way, isn’t Jewish. He’s a Christian Zionist (he reportedly refers to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria”), but in his ardent support for Israel, the Yahweh-fearing Mr. Allen seems to have few peers. It’s nice that Bloom and Allen, one being Democrat the other a Republican, were able to overcome their political differences, although of course in US politics love of Israel is a “bipartisan” issue.
But it seems a few other differences, besides just being Democrat and Republican, emerged between the two lawmakers in their attempts to clamp down on “hate speech.” Bloom, it is reported here, initially agreed to sign onto Allen’s bill, but later changed his mind.
Bills 1551 and 1552 were introduced by Allen on January 4, 2016–and some members of the Jewish Caucus claim he acted without consulting them properly in advance. Bloom’s bill, 2844, wasn’t introduced until February 19, but it incorporated practically identical language as the earlier bills brought forth by Allen.
According to Sen. Jeff Stone, a member of the Jewish Caucus, there were those among the caucus who found themselves “kind of offended that they had someone from outside the caucus that was promoting a BDS bill.”
“It was not something that was brought to the Jewish caucus’s attention prior to putting it across the desk as a bill. That’s where I think a lot of the tension occurred,” Stone added.
Yet reportedly discussions about the legislative effort took place as early as fall of 2015, and as Allen put it, “Any effort to weaken that legislation (bills 1551 and 1552) by introducing competing legislation with the exact same language is a very transparent play to gain credit or derail an effort.”
Allen seems to believe certain elements among the Jewish Caucus were trying to rob him of the credit and glory he deserved for championing the cause of Israel; among the caucus, however, it appears there was, shall we say, a slight feeling of unease over Allen’s inferior goyish mind and his Christian Zionist zaniness, along with fears that he might simply muck the whole thing up.
“If we have an anti-BDS bill that comes to the legislature, it will be very controversial. It will likely face heavy opposition by the pro-BDS folks,” explained Jewish Caucus Chair Marty Block. “We think that a bill authored by the Jewish caucus will have more support from our colleagues in all the other ethnic caucuses and the rest of the legislature.”
Another bone of contention seems to have been over what to say about the anti-BDS legislation publicly. Bloom has accused Allen of leaking information about the bill to a pro-Israel blogger, who ended up publishing it on a couple of prominent news sites, including the Jerusalem Post. The Jewish Caucus, on the other hand, seems to have preferred a quieter, more stealthy approach of moving the bill through the various committees on the sly.
And perhaps it’s for this reason that aside from the output of the blogger, who has accompanied her articles with meanderings on Hitler, Goebbels, and the Book of Esther, publicity on the bills has overall been scant. Articles have been published by Mondoweiss, Brietbart, and the Huffington Post, as well as in a few Jewish media outlets, perhaps most prominently the Jewish Journal, but the major media, both inside and outside the state of California, have been largely silent.
Little in the way of Tweets or Facebook postings can be found either, nor was I able to find a video of the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings. Likewise, a visit to Bloom’s official website turns up a couple of prominently displayed press releases about the assembly member’s attempts to protect orcas, but nothing about the anti-BDS effort.
“In fact orcas stay with their mothers their entire lives and their life trajectories are similar, in many ways, to humans,” Bloom says.
Admirable–I like Orcas too, beautiful creatures.
But there’s occasional beauty to be found in the human species as well, and one rather laudable trait in Palestinian society is courage and steadfastness in resistance to occupation. “The old will die and the young will forget,” said one of the early Zionists, and yet for all the alleged Jewish superior intellectual capacities we hear so much about, the early Zios seem to have miscalculated big-time on that one.
As for AB 2844, though there isn’t much about it in the media, we can find the bill listed on the state of California’s Legislative Info website, and the language in it is little short of ethereal.
“The United States and Israel have a unique bond based on their shared, enduring values, which are reflected in the virtues and principles of freedom and democracy, and have stood together as allies since Israel was first formed as a nation,” states the bill’s section 2(a).
Other Assembly members who’ve signed onto the bill are Marc Levine, Jose Medina, and Adrin Nazarian. In the Senate, the measure has picked up support from Jewish Caucus Chairman Block, Benjamin Allen, Steven M. Glazer, Robert M. Hertzberg, Hannah-Beth Jackson, and Lois Wolk.
And that’s all just in one state. The Zionists have quite a few other state legislatures sewn up as well, and of course we don’t need to get into the subject of the US Congress, whose members do eternal flip-bounces upon the AIPAC trampoline lest they be seized by ogres and turned into slithering incubi.
Alarm bells have gone off in a number of peoples’ heads of late about the slightly-higher-than-normal level of insanity on display in the current presidential campaign, but when you have a small group of tribally insecure (and in some respects dangerously psychotic) individuals holding almost dictatorial power over an entire country–controlling its money supply, media, electoral politics, and even its universities–then the almost inevitable result is a sort of collective insanity descending upon the society as a whole.
And bills like AB 2844, 1551 and 1552 are the equally inevitable result.
By the way, Israeli media reported on Friday that Azarya was released from custody so that he might go home and enjoy the Jewish holiday of Passover. Speaking to reporters outside the family home, the killer’s father thanked the public for its support, and said, “We love Israel, we’re not enemies of the state.”
The cloud of insanity in Israel is thick, far thicker, it seems, that the one in America at present, yet no coincidence is it that both nations have been engulfed by clouds. It is almost as if we are condemned–not a happy thought.
Yet here through an odd alignment of events, all occurring in a single day–specifically a paroxysm of hate in Israel, and a paroxysm of legal madness in California–we have a graph, a chart, a visual aid, or maybe even, yes, I’ll go out on a limb and say it…a divinely given teaching moment.
Perhaps April 19, 2016 should go down in history.
Richard Edmondson is an author, novelist, poet, and journalist whose writings often focus on Middle East issues, the Zionist lobby, and religion. His latest novel is The Memoirs of Saint John: When the Sandstone Crumbles, a story about an archaeological team doing a dig in Syria and set amidst the current conflict in the country.
In 2014 Richard attended an International Conference on Combating Terrorism and Religious Extremism, held in Damascus. The book is part two in the Memoirs of Saint John series.
Two other books by Richard are Rising Up: Class Warfare in America from the Streets to the Airwaves, relating his experiences founding and operating an unlicensed or “pirate” FM radio station in San Francisco in the 1990s, as well as a volume of poetry entitled American Bus Stop: Essay and Poems on Hope and Homelessness.
Richard is cognizant of the words of the early Christian writer Tertullian, who in the second century-basically prognosticating the fall of the Roman Empire-wrote: “We have made merry amid the ludicrous cruelties of the noonday exhibition.”