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Alabama Democrats speak against resolution supporting Israel, condemning Hamas

MONTGOMERY — State Reps. Thomas “Action Jackson” (D-Thomasville) and Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) on Monday evening spoke against a resolution “expressing solidarity with Israel in its defense against terrorism in the Gaza Strip.”

SJR 138 was introduced and passed by a voice vote in the Senate earlier the same day.

The resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel; and

WHEREAS, Hamas has been designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; and

WHEREAS, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and mortars against Israeli population centers, since Israel
withdrew its civilian population and its military from Gaza in 2005; and

WHEREAS, Palestinian terrorists of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas have launched over 1800 rocket and mortars against Israeli civilian areas in 2021; and

WHEREAS, Hamas has increased the range and payload of its rockets, reportedly with support from Iran and others, putting hundreds of thousands of Israelis in danger of rocket attacks from Gaza; and

WHEREAS, Hamas locates elements of its terrorist infrastructure in civilian population centers, thus using
innocent civilians as human shields; and

WHEREAS, the democratic, Jewish State of Israel is a key ally and a strategic partner of the United States and
friend and partner of the State of Alabama; and

WHEREAS, the State of Alabama plays an important role in the production of the Iron Dome missile defense system
which has saved countless lives against rocket attacks by Hamas onto population centers in Israel; and

WHEREAS, Israel, a fellow democracy, has an inherent right to self-defense in the face of terrorist attacks; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That the State of Alabama:

(1) Expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against Hamas’s unceasing aggression.

(2) Reiterates that Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, agree to abide by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and verifiably dismantle its terrorist infrastructure.

(3) Encourages the Administration to work actively to support a durable and sustainable cease-fire in Gaza, as soon as possible, that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding its terrorist infrastructure, including the capability to launch rockets and mortars against Israel, and thereby allowing for the long-term improvement of daily living conditions for the people of Gaza.

(4) Condemns Hamas for deliberately embedding its fighters, leaders, and weapons in private homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, and otherwise using Palestinian civilians as human shields, while simultaneously targeting Israeli civilians; and to lay blame both for the breaking of the calm and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas.

Givan spoke first on the resolution, which was being carried in the House by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur).

“What in the slam-chiggity is this?” Givan asked.

“I think there are a lot of Alabamians who want to commit to solidarity with Israel,” Collins said.

“[Y]ou’re talking about in the Republican Party, because I know ain’t nobody from not one of my neighborhoods told you that,” Givan argued. “I know ain’t nobody — and I’m using Ebonics right now — ain’t nobody told you that in my neighborhoods. … Now, if all y’all ‘Dumplicans’ want to do it, that’s up to y’all.”

“I have heard much support of Israel, regularly, all around the state,” Collins reiterated.

“Well, I hear a lot of support for Africa and South Africa, but I don’t see you bringing not one resolution — nor would you be willing to support one,” Givan retorted.

She continued to say that SJR 138 is an example of the type of “agenda” that causes “a lot of grief and a lot of strife and heartache here in this chamber.”

“I don’t want to be a part of this,” Givan added. She said she wanted “five or six votes” in opposition to the resolution recorded next to her name.

“Because I am embarrassed tonight to even stand in this chamber,” she lamented. “And I’m hoping that the media is listening to me about the foolishness and foolery that goes on in this chamber. And the sensitive things that you people — and yes, I am saying you people — do in the name of whatever agenda that you are trying to push.”

Jackson, the Democrat from Clarke County, spoke next. Observers may remember Jackson from 2018, when he came out in support of the assertion that “the biggest terror threat in this country is white men.”

On Monday, Jackson began, “I was hoping that the lady (Collins) would include the opposite side, that Israel would start restraining itself.”

He subsequently argued that Hamas and the Palestinian people were justified in their stance.

“Now, Israel is not the Israel that the Bible was talking about,” commented Jackson, a preacher. “That little piece of land over there — these people do so much damage to so many people. … And the United States always funded them. Isn’t that wrong?”

Jackson claimed Israel is “just as bad” as Hamas, which is classified by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.

“So, let’s not have a one-sided resolution,” Jackson continued. “Let’s include them both. … Let’s not make them feel worse than what they already feel.”

“Ask the question, ‘Why is Hamas doing what they’re doing?’ But you’re not asking that question,” he remarked. “They’re gotten in a situation that we’ve been in for over these 400 years in this nation. So, when do people stand and be themselves? When do they say, ‘Enough is enough.’? And the fight continues.”

“Israel is just as guilty as some of this stuff,” Jackson claimed, speaking to the motivations that he attributes to Hamas.

He soon thereafter accused Israel of “taking advantage” of Gaza residents.

“And that’s the situation that they’re in,” Jackson said. “We’ve been there. And we’re still fighting. But we don’t have rockets to — I don’t know where Hamas is getting their weapons from. Could be getting them from us.”

“I don’t think so,” Collins responded.

Jackson concluded his remarks after accusing Israel of committing “terror” and “crimes.” He called for peace on both sides of the conflict.

In the face of mounting vocal Democratic opposition, Collins then requested the House carry the resolution over at the call of the chair so other business could proceed. Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said the resolution could come back up later in the night. Monday is the final legislative day of the 2021 regular session.

Minutes after the resolution was carried over, House Minority Leaders Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) took to the floor to do some apparent cleanup work.

“I felt that the resolution (SJR 138) was a positive resolution,” he stated. “And so I just want to make sure that that is clear, regardless of the messages that individuals received. Because I think we all are in support of that resolution. And I thought it was a positive resolution. I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea about Democrats being anti-Semitic. That’s certainly not the case.”

Israel is a significant trading partner with the state of Alabama, a beneficial relationship which Governor Kay Ivey’s administration and private sector partners have been trying to strengthen even more in recent years.

UPDATE 10:00 p.m.

SJR 138 has been called back onto the floor, and Republicans have filed cloture in order to force a vote on the measure in less than 10 minutes time from now.

Right before that occurred, Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) spoke to the resolution.

She said President Joe Biden is “taking his time” in order to ascertain the facts of the conflict involving Israel and Hamas.

“But I know you don’t respect that,” Moore said. “You want somebody to go and say, ‘Shoot ’em up, bomb ’em up, kill ’em up.’ Regardless who it is. ‘Babies, if you bomb them now you won’t have to deal with them later.’ And that’s exactly what’s going on over there in Israel.”

UPDATE 10:10 p.m.

After cloture ended debate, the resolution passed 89-0, with 10 Democrats abstaining.

UPDATE 11:00 p.m.

Later in the evening, speaking on an unrelated matter, Rep. Givan referenced the earlier debate on SJR 138.

“I’m not anti-Semitic in any way,” she underscored.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn