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  • Lara Crigger

At The Louisiana Legislature, Fierce Debate Around Support For Israel


Earlier today, the Louisiana House and Governmental Affairs committee heard SCR21, a resolution introduced by Senator Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs).


The text of the resolution, which “memorializes Congress to support the nation of Israel in the wake of the October 7, 2023, terror attacks and Israel's ongoing efforts to root out Hamas,” mentions the terrorist organization by name and with condemnation 22 times. It also calls out Israel’s special strategic, economic, and social importance to the citizens of Louisiana—even shouts out how Israel provided humanitarian aid to our state after Hurricane Katrina and the 2016 floods.


The resolution is a show of support for Israel and her people, including those Israelis and Israeli-Americans living in Louisiana.


Pro-Palestinian activists came to the hearing, of course.


This morning, I listened in as speaker after speaker stood to offer testimony in opposition to the resolution. It’s their right to offer this dissent under our state and federal laws.


However, their testimonies were riddled with inaccuracies, propaganda, conspiracy theories, and outright lies.


For example, one speaker cited a death toll of 40,000 in Gaza—“the average age, five years old.” (The Hamas-run Ministry of Health recently revised its casualty figures in Gaza down, much closer to 21,720. That’s if you can even trust the statistically suspect numbers in the first place.)


Another speaker asserted that the United Nations had “created Israel in 1948.” The United Nations did not “create” Israel. Israel was created by its citizens: On behalf of the new nation, David Ben-Gurion declared the country’s establishment on May 14, 1948. Meanwhile, the UN did not recognize Israel as a state until a year later, on May 11, 1949.


Yet another speaker claimed Israel had sprayed white phosphorus on the Gaza populace, a banned chemical weapon that is dangerously toxic. The IDF denied any such usage, stating, "The IDF only uses legal weaponry." Still the conspiracy theory persists, circulating since the war’s earliest days, often in conjunction with photos or videos that actually originate from the Syrian Civil War.


That’s just a sampling of the false assertions now read into the Louisiana state record, as well as dozens of unfounded accusations of “genocide,” “occupation,” “settler colonialism,” and so on.


After each testimony, Sen. Mike Bayham (R-Chalmette) asked the speaker one question. The questions were simple and could be answered with "yes" or "no":

  • Do you condemn Hamas’s attack on Israeli civilians?

  • Do you condemn the murder of more than 200 civilians at the Nova music festival?

  • Have you publicly called for the release of Israeli hostages by Hamas?

  • Do you condemn antisemitism rising on our college campuses?, etc.

Yet each time, the speaker refused to answer "yes" or "no" or condemn Hamas—and, in some cases, speakers even argued with the premise of the question.


When asked if she had called for the release of Israeli hostages, one Jewish Voices for Peace activist from New Orleans claimed, “I don’t have jurisdiction over that,” only to then say she had publicly called for the release of tens of thousands of Palestinian “hostages” taken by Israel.


When asked if he condemned the antisemitism rising on college campuses nationwide and here at home, one New Orleans-based educator said he didn’t believe there had been any rise in antisemitism at all—in fact, “quite the opposite,” he said.


After the testimonies continued for more than an hour, Rep. Hodges once more took the floor, joined by her colleague Rep. Charles Owen (R-Rosepine).


Rep. Owen weighed in with his own thoughts about Hamas: “They’re the worst of the worst. They did unspeakable things. And it’s okay to call things ‘unspeakable’ when they are unspeakable,” he said.


Ultimately, the resolution passed out of the committee with a favorable motion.


It passed without objection.


 

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