Arizona's recent pro-Israel legislation exposes the rightwing, anti-immigrant hypocrisy of many white "liberal" allies in the Immigrant Rights Movement
On its surface, the recent resolution bill, "Supporting the Nation of Israel", unanimously passed by the AZ House of Representatives recently, raised no eyebrows.
A bi-partisan consensus supporting Israel is nothing new. However, upon closer inspection of the bill, it is unclear to whom the enacted legislation is appealing, based on its language surrounding Arizona and US border security policies.
The AZ-Israel support bill (HR2008) is essentially an interstate, cross-border solidarity statement. The bill begins by recognizing "the Jewish people...in their homeland." It later hails Arizona and Israel as eclectic "trade partners, a relationship we seek to enhance," according to the bill's authors.
So one might presume the largely Republican bill speaks to Israel supporters. A sound assumption, since the chief issue of agreement among liberal and conservative groups (whether Jewish or not) surrounds Israel's 45-year military occupation of Palestinian Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Here, Israel's border security language is approximately that of the US Border Patrol, whose "priority mission" is "preventing terrorists and terrorists' weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States."
In regards to maintaining Israel's ethnic Jewish majority, American bipartisan support likely also resounds in agreement (like most of Israeli society) around Israeli immigration policies that prompted the government's current construction of a $1.5 billion "border fence"--across Israel's own southern desert borderlands--to keep out "illegal" migrants, mostly from North Africa. After all, as Prime Minister Netanyahu warns, the invading "flood" represents "a concrete threat to the Jewish and democratic character of Israel."
Generally, The Democratic and Republican parties and their constituents are in uninterrupted harmony on the issue of Israeli border security and preserving Israel's predominant Jewish character. But when it comes to American liberals of various stripes, many are firmly rooted in the immigrant rights movement.
The majority of Jewish-American groups, especially in Arizona, for example, passionately support migrant rights and immigration reform, defend outlawed Mexican-American Studies programs, and rail at the thousands of migrant deaths in the US/Mexico desert borderlands resulting from the 20-year US militarization of its southern border.
Meanwhile, the Republican-led AZ-Israel bill gloats that "Israel receives vital military and security assistance from the United States, much of which, in turn, is spent here in Arizona with its defense contractors"--no doubt along the border, where a big military-style "defense" business booms.
So for whom is this bill written? Who are the authors fooling? If anything, the bill is a political liability for a prominent array of Israel's American supporters whose unshakable support for Israeli policies--in light of the AZ-Israel bill--now appears irreconcilably rightwing to their cherished Latino allies, particularly in Arizona.
In other words, this bill forces one of the most powerful US-based Israel constituencies to have a lot of explaining to do. They'll likely have to exert significant time and energy trying to convince Latino allies that Israeli anti-immigrant and border militarization policies are justified against migrants and Palestinians by Israel because those migrant and border issues are indescribably different than those in Arizona.
The argument is a Catch-22 loss. Because whichever way one may try to spin it, the AZ-Israel bill runs contrary to migrant and Palestinian rights.
According to the House spokesperson, the AZ-Israel bill was remitted to the US Secretary of State the same day (Feb. 27) of its unanimous adoption on the House floor.
American liberals now face uneasy questions. The challenge now will be to apply standards equally across the board--across borders and states where situations may be different in the details but fundamental human rights issues remain stubborn and constant.
A version of this article appeared in The Arizona Republic on March 25.