Comedienne and actress Roseanne Barr, an unlikely face for the Israel advocacy movement, was a keynote speaker at a Jerusalem conference discussing the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement Monday.
Barr, always known for her outspoken, practical manner, didn’t mince words in her approximately 20-minute speech at the conference sponsored by Israeli Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, which also featured speeches by top diplomats, politicians and activists.
Barr first introduced her mother, visiting Israel for the first time, and spoke of her Jewish background, having been born to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Barr has been to Israel before, and is a regular on Twitter, tweeting about Israel, BDS, Jews and her possible plans to move to Israel. She is being hosted in Israel by StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy group.
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) March 27, 2016
During her speech, Barr said she’s been privy to anti-Semitic comments and opinions for most of her life.
“People didn’t know I was Jewish because I’m not the American stereotype,” said Barr, who played herself on Roseanne, a television sitcom about a working-class American family that was broadcast for nine years starting in the late 1980s. “I was privy to hearing things that people say about Jews that they wouldn’t say if they knew I was Jewish.”
She became more politically active after the events of 9/11, first as part of the liberal Green party, but then began moving toward the right, mostly because of the views held by many against Israel.
Since then she has become an outspoken Israel advocate on social media, sometimes sparking fights, as in November 2015, when she called a writer for the liberal daily Haaretz a “privileged fat skinhead” over his call for French Jews to stay in France.
“What I believed was criticism of Israel turned into garden variety anti-Semitism, with code word ‘Rothschild,'” she said, referring to the 19th-century family of English-born, Jewish philanthropists whose name has become synonymous with conspiracy theories about Jewish world control.
“I’m not here to defend the indefensible,” said Barr. “Israel has many thing that need correction, like many other states. I pray that all that’s wrong is being corrected now.”
She quoted the writings of Israel’s first chief rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, as part of her own hope that the nation of Israel could be restored to its true national character.
“We Jews can be rude, commanding and somewhat more intransigent than others at times,” she said. “And yet Jews don’t care what religions other people are, and would never deny others the right to worship.”
With that thought, Barr led into the BDS portion of her speech, calling the movement fascist, and linking it to the Spanish inquisition, Nazis and Hamas.
“Make no mistake,” she stated. “BDS activists are paid directly or indirectly by Judenrein Arab states.
“Pharaohs and fuehrers never leave the Jewish people for very long,” she continued. “BDS doesn’t want peace, doesn’t want peace negotiations. It uses occupation as a code word.”
She mentioned the theater of social media and college campus “BDS factories” as places that “work hard to silence” non-BDS voices, rather than “lead to civil communication, which could work.”
— Keren Azaria (@KerenAz91) March 28, 2016
The BDS “Jewish haters” hope the boycott will help to “isolate and disenfranchise Jews,” continued Barr, “until it will all be Jew-free.
“You can’t possibly make this shit up, folks,” she said, sparking laughter and a reminder of what Roseanne Barr, the television actress, once sounded like.