Fallen-from-grace celebrity Roseanne Barr’s trip to Israel was an event widely-covered in the Israeli media. The comedian who said she wanted to be the “queen of Israel” and maybe also Prime Minister got a royal welcome. It basically included what was expected: Trashing of the movement for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as “Nazis”, pandering to the far-right settlers, and a lot of crocodile tears about her racist tweet from last year that got her show cancelled on ABC. The whole tour was mainly organized by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network.
Barr warmed up to her anti-BDS tour in an interview with the Israeli right-wing outlet Makor Rishon (whose chief editor Haggai Segal is a convicted Jewish Underground terrorist). She called Natalie Portman “repulsive” for cancelling her participation in the prestigious Israeli Genesis Prize ceremony. In a later interview in Israel she followed it up saying that she “prays that God will enter into [Portman] and that she finds her conscience”.
Barr’s first stop after landing in Israel was in the occupied Palestinian West Bank (which she calls ‘Judea and Samaria’), at the illegal Israeli settlement of Peduel, accompanied by the head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan. She planted a tree, and expressed her conviction that the “settlers are the pioneers at the forefront of the State of Israel”. She compared BDS to a Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses:
[BDS] is very much the very same thing as the first Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses. It is a boycott of Jews worldwide. It pretends to be a boycott of just certain aspects of Israel, but it also calls for a boycott of businesses that do business with Israel, which means the American-Jewish business community.
Per Barr, because some Jews might be doing business with Israel, then a political boycott aimed at Israel’s violations, which might hurt their business with Israel indirectly, is thus Nazi. In one sense, it may seem rather pointless to relate seriously to what Roseanne Barr says about BDS, or about anything really. Yet her views echo many of those espoused by Israel and vice-versa, and she is being courted and promoted as an ideological asset by the state – so that’s where it gets serious.
The next day was in Jerusalem, where she was accompanied by Culture Minister Miri Regev. Regev’s admiration for Barr is on open display. The two also share the trait of being racist loudmouths: Regev has called African refugees a “cancer” and openly stated that she is “happy to be a fascist”.
So the two, accompanied by Shmuley Boteach and a swarm of media, went to occupied East Jerusalem and met with the Ateret Cohanim organization, which promotes Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas of the city. They went to the Western Wall as well as to Wittenberg House, a building in the Muslim Quarter in which future Prime Minister Ariel Sharon purchased an apartment in 1987, now owned by Ateret Cohanim.
Barr’s takeaway? “There is no occupation.”
The only occupation I see is they built a dome on top of our Temple [the Temple Mount] and I’m not allowed to pray at my holiest site.
Lest we think that the notion of “no occupation” is merely a mental construct of one loony, let it be noted that this is a denial pushed by many leading Zionist right-wingers, including US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Barr is also flirting with the notion of replacing the Dome of the Rock with a third temple – a central Messianic-Zionist longing.
Barr then spoke at an event in Jerusalem at the Begin Heritage Center. This was a kind of substitute for a planned Knesset speech that was “canceled after the government announced that it would be holding snap elections in April — making it inappropriate to host her amid campaigning,” i24 News said. But there was incessant talk about elections probably happening sometime in early spring, ever since former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman left the government coalition with his party in mid-November; and Boteach’s World Values Network announced the tour on the day that early elections were announced (December 24th). So logic says, that someone in the Knesset got second thoughts. Maybe Barr’s PR value against BDS, which was the purpose of her talk, was deemed to be not that great, in the Knesset. Maybe even “inappropriate”, although many BDS supporters were exhilarated by the notion that she would be the face of BDS at the Israeli parliament.
The legislator who had initially invited her to the Knesset, Yehiel (Hilik) Bar, Knesset Deputy Speaker from the “left” party Zionist Union, was also in attendance at the Begin Heritage Center. The center hails the Jewish terrorists of the Irgun (which Begin was leader of), and has especially honored the murderous bombing of the King David Hotel at its 60th anniversary in 2006, a ceremony Benjamin Netanyahu attended and addressed. This was the setting in which Roseanne Barr said:
I thought my highest use in the whole wide world was to come here and speak in solidarity with Judea and Samaria and the Jewish people and Jerusalem.
During that Jerusalem discussion, Barr bemoaned her difficult year, once again explaining that racist Tweet, in which she described former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj”. She said it was taken out of context and that her views on the Obama-orchestrated Iran deal was reduced to “Roseanne said black people look like monkeys.”
“Disney ‘BDS’ed’ me”, she declared to the crowd. She said they were “crap[ing] on her good name as a Jew”, calling her “a racist”.
She also called the first two Muslim women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, “Hamas in Congress”, and asserted there were no Democrats in Congress who support Israel.
Barr also appeared a day later in Tel Aviv, before 200 people, who Haaretz reports were “primarily immigrants from English-speaking countries, participating in a Tel Aviv International Salon event”. She repeated the anguish concerning that tweet– “I like to call it being BDSed by ABC” — and Shmuley Boteach added to her crocodile tears, saying how hard Hollywood can be:
There is no forgiveness… It’s one strike and you are destroyed, demolished, finished!
An Israeli Walla! journalist, Sagi Bin Nun, complained that Barr had responded with “egregious verbal violence” when he asked her about the tweet. Bin Nun asked: “Israel is the place where you ask for forgiveness from God. Although Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) was in September, would you want to take this opportunity to apologize for your racist tweet?”
If you call my tweet racist, then you are the most racist person in this room. You have offended me. You are a horrible person. An evil person.
Barr says that she fell victim to the Hollywood elite’s dislike of her support for President Donald Trump and the fact she was a “proud Jew” and Zionist. That would really be something, for Hollywood to reject you for being a proud Jew and a Zionist…
Barr embraced Trump, and opined that he “loves Jewish people and that’s why they hate him, I think. They hate him because he likes us.”
Barr cried about her victimhood, and ascribed murderous motives to those who cancelled her show:
They tried to kill me, they tried to end my life, and then they wrote me out of my own show with an opioid overdose which was so disrespectful.
At the first mention of the Jarrett tweet, an audience member called out supportively that Barr “was right!” The star visibly brightened when she heard that. “You have no idea what that means to me,” she responded. “And you have no idea what I’ve been through – it’s been the most horrible thing. Thank you for your support.”
Barr suggested that she might stay in Israel: “I’m thinking to maybe not go back”, she told the audience.
Boteach asked why, after several days in Israel, “you have not declared you are a candidate for prime minister.”
To which Barr responded:
God hasn’t put those words in my mouth yet… But I think I’d make a really good prime minister.
Oh, me too. I think Barr should stay and go for it. Queen, Prime Minister, whatever. She’s clearly at home in Israel, they love her. With the options of Prime Minister as they stand now, with Terrorist 1 (Netanayhu) and Terrorist 2 (Gantz), Barr would not be too bad, really. And Menachem Begin would probably be proud too.