US Senator Incites Violence Against Gaza Protesters

US Senator Incites Violence Against Gaza Protesters

Tom Cotton, US senator from Arkansas, is encouraging grotesque vigilante violence against demonstrators

By Michael F. Brown, reposted from Electronic Intifada, April 20, 2024 [Editor’s note added by IAK]

Tom Cotton, the bellicose US senator from Arkansas, is not satisfied with pushing to employ the US military against Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters. He’s now encouraging vigilante violence against Gaza genocide activists.

On Monday, he proposed throwing protesters in American cities off bridges. He urged people stuck in traffic related to Gaza genocide protests to take violent action.

“I encourage people who get stuck behind the pro-Hamas mobs blocking traffic: take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way.”

Protesters for Palestinian freedom are “pro-Hamas mobs” to Cotton, a man who inveighs against over-taxing but on the American tax day promotes bodily harm against those protesting US tax money fueling war crimes and genocide.

Speaking to Fox News about protesters blocking traffic in demonstrations from California to Illinois to New York and elsewhere, Cotton said, “If something like this happened in Arkansas on a bridge there, let’s just say I think there’d be a lot of very wet criminals that have been tossed overboard, not by law enforcement but by the people whose road they’re blocking.”

Then voicing specific support for violence and inflicting pain on protesters, Cotton asserted, “If they glued their hands to a car or the pavement, well, probably pretty painful to have their skin ripped off, but I think that’s the way we’d handle it in Arkansas. And I would encourage most people anywhere that get stuck behind criminals like this, who are trying to block traffic, to take matters in their own hands.”

“It’s really unbelievable in this day and age that a sitting US Senator can threaten violence to protesters and not be sanctioned or censured or anything else by his colleagues,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, National Chair of the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), to The Electronic Intifada.

“It’s been an incredible challenge, in the past six months especially, to experience what Palestinians have in the US – that our lives are expendable, that our rights aren’t defended, that our very existence is threatened. But we can’t and won’t back down, and we will continue fighting to stop the genocide and make sure that racist, white supremacist apologists for Israel like Tom Cotton will see a free Palestine in his lifetime.”

Editor’s note: Prominent combat veteran Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis and former Ambassador Chas Freeman also forcibly condemned Cotton’s statements.

The American Civil Liberties Union did not respond to requests from The Electronic Intifada for First Amendment analysis on how much latitude Cotton has to encourage vigilante violence against protesters.

On Thursday, Cotton also weighed in regarding a report that the International Criminal Court could bring “international arrest warrants in the relatively near future against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials for alleged war crimes.”

Cotton, attempting to intimidate the court and its officials, said he was “putting ICC officials on notice.”

He added, “If you side with Hamas and Iran (allies of Putin) and enter the political battlefield against Israel, you will be sanctioned. Get your dollars out of the US now and say goodbye to ever visiting America again.”

He’s clearly worried that a fair appraisal will find Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza – and with US arms.

From the river to the sea

Meanwhile, Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution deeming the chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” to be anti-Semitic.

Just 43 Democrats voted against the resolution and one Republican.

Unsurprisingly, many Democrats ended up on the side of noted anti-Semite and Islamophobe Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congressional QAnon enthusiast from the state of Georgia.

The representatives aren’t interested in addressing anti-Semitism with the resolution, but in restricting speech related to Palestinian freedom. Many supporters of the chant are strong supporters of equal rights for all those living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and oppose an apartheid state of Israel carrying out what the International Court of Justice has deemed a plausible genocide in Gaza.

Most of the Palestinians in the coastal territory are there as a consequence of Zionist militias and the Israeli military dispossessing and displacing their grandparents and great grandparents into Gaza in 1948. Many have family land that was stolen from them just a few miles away.

The hypocrisy – and worse – of House members is clear. They had nothing to say about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s map presented in September 2023 at the United Nations depicting all of the land between the river and the sea – and the occupied Golan Heights – as part of Israel.

Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, triumphantly claims on his Twitter/X feed to his nearly 200,000 followers that “from the river to the sea, this flag [of Israel] is all you’ll see!”

The apartheid vision of father and son is widely accepted or disregarded in the US Congress – from co-sponsors of the “river to the sea” resolution Michael Lawler and Max Miller on the far right to Jamie Raskin and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who are supposedly on the left.

Miller, of course, received no censure last year for his genocidal call to turn Gaza into a “parking lot.”

Calls for equal rights for Palestinians are now hate speech to most members of the US House of Representatives. University students and activists will pay a price, but such congressional foolishness is apt to lead to even more people questioning US policies opposing Palestinian freedom.

More unconditioned military aid to Israel – some $17 billion approved today by the US House of Representatives with just 58 members dissenting – will only make for more Israeli war crimes and with deeper US complicity. Roughly $9 billion in humanitarian aid for areas devastated by war was approved, including an anticipated $2 billion for Palestinians in Gaza.

The New York Times confuses very few when it says this military aid comes in the context of “scores” of Palestinian civilian casualties.

In fact, the Israeli military’s genocidal action – with the backing of US arms – has resulted in tens of thousands of Palestinian civilian casualties since 7 October.


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