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writing for godot

Marco Rubio's Fight Against the 1st Amendment

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Written by David Starr   
Tuesday, 15 January 2019 11:41

Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) Twitter spat with newly incoming Rep. Rishida Tlaib (D-Mich.) says a lot about Marco Rubio himself.

Rubio is a staunch supporter of Israel no matter what the consequences are, even if it means violating the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is in reference to the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, of which Rubio is fighting against. BDS has the right, under the 1st Amendment, to take action against Israel since the latter is pursuing an ultra-nationalist campaign grossly affecting the Palestinian people.

The Twitter tit-for-tat, as reported in The Hill (1/09/2019) by Morgan Gstalter, has Rubio saying that if boycotts against Israel are protected by the 1st Amendment, then state and local governments have the right to boycott companies involved in boycotting Israel. But Rubio's mumbo jumbo is absurd since it still means that state and local governments would still be violating BDS's right to free speech by taking such actions.

In Tlaib's Twitter response, she had to give Rubio a lesson on free speech, saying that "I cannot imagine our country not having the right to economic boycott. Think about, you know, Montgomery, Alabama, and all around the country, the civil rights movement." Tlaib emphasized that Rubio should read the U.S. Constitution.

The anti-semitic card was played by Rubio, saying on Twitter that "[t]his 'dual loyalty' canard is a typical anti-semitic line. BDS isn't about freedom and equality, it's about destroying Israel." A typical response from someone who is an unconditional Israel supporter. ANYONE who criticizes or condemns Israel is an anti-semite. Either you're with us or against us. This cynical B/W illogic comes nowhere near to addressing ways to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Rubio, blinded by his religious fundamentalism, doesn't seem to care about resolving the issue, or the conditions the Palestinian people face daily in the West Bank and Gaza.

What are the connections between Rubio's support for Israel and others who take the same position? According to Uriel Heilman, writing in Haaretz (2/02/2016), Rubio interned under Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), a Cuban-American, like Rubio, who share the same dogmatic support for Israel; Norman Braman, a billionaire auto dealership tycoon, and past president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, generously backed Rubio during his 2016 presidential campaign run. Braman supported Rubio in a number of ways, including financing the young Rubio's legislative agenda; Sheldon Adelson spent about $125 billion on backing Republicans in the 2012 presidential campaign. He is particularly fond of Rubio, admiring his stance on militarism and of course his support for Israel.

Typifying Rubio's support for Israel is the following statement quoted by Heilman: '"If America doesn't stand with Israel, who would we stand with? If Israel–a democracy, a strong American ally on the international stage–if they are not worthy of our unconditional support, then what ally of ours around the world can feel safe in their alliance with us?"' Who would we stand with? Rubio makes this sound like we have to stand with Israel at all costs. After all, Israelis are the Chosen People, according to Judeo-Christian mythology. Rubio also has this B/W view of the world, like other Republicans, ignoring the shades of grey.

Tlaib mentioned in her Twitter post that Congress should find out ways to reopen the government, not decide on legislation before that. But Rubio and the Republicans will probably continue to stonewall, seeing the BDS movement as a "problem" that must be taken care of, and the "problem" of free speech.

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