Senator Marco Rubio took to Twitter in defense of his sponsored bill in support of Israel. Rubio and others have the right to support Israel as part of their constitutional right to Freedom of Speech. Apparently, Rubio thinks the First Amendment is exclusive to him and those who hold similar views.
His sponsored bill, SB1, if passed will criminalize those who chose to boycott Israel. They don’t even need to take active measures to that end; they would be punished for the mere act of refusing to promise not to engage in BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel).
Let’s not be rash here; I’m not arguing for or against BDS. But I am concerned by Rubio’s audacity to sponsor such an indefensible bill and him engaging in Twitter battles to assert his position. His muddling of the discussion is a sorry attempt to earn points for sponsoring the bill even if it fails. As for BDS, I reserve my views on the matter for a future article.
To BDS or not to DBS, that is NOT the question
First, I believe that Schumer, Feinstein, Cardin, and all of the other Jewish members of Congress are patriotic Americans regardless of their support Israel or not. I don’t have to agree with those who are holding the line for the Jewish state, because I respect the fact they are standing up for their people.
I can only imagine how such opposition to Israel can trigger memories of the historical trauma of the Holocaust flooding back as if it happened yesterday. It would be abnormal if it didn’t.
It is human to do all that is in one’s power to prevent a repeat of the unimaginable atrocities committed by the Nazi’s against six million Jews. Any of us would do the same if we were in their shoes. But I don’t have the Holocaust in my past, nor do I need to imagine the killings.
Supporting Palestinians is the mirror image of supporting Israelis. In isolation, supporting Palestinians must not be confused for anti-SemitismWalid Jawad
I stand witness to the plight of the Palestinian people who are ironically suffering at the hand of the Israeli government at this very moment and for generations. These are people who look like me, have names that sound like my relatives, and the majority of them repeat in Arabic the mantra: justice, right of return, dignity, and peace.
Supporting Palestinians is the mirror image of supporting Israelis. In isolation, supporting Palestinians must not be confused for anti-Semitism. True support of either side compels the rational and ethical person to extend that support to the other group. This reality holds true unless threat of oppression, violence and/or killing of civilians is introduced.
This argument is harder to accept when we approach the issue within the framework of retribution as it triggers an emotional response. However, not accepting this equation keeps Israelis fearful and Palestinians defiant preventing the two from coming to an understanding.
The right and wrong way
As a country, we must stand up to anti-Semitism, this is not up for debate. However, support for the nation of Israel is a political issue independent of racism. Suffice it to say, members of Congress have the right to support Israel as part of their political agenda.
When it comes to non-Jewish members, we all know that such a political agenda is not for the good of Israel as much as it is for the benefit of the politician. Rubio, raised Catholic, has political ambitions. The presidency is a goal, which he has been pursuing. Securing the support of the voting blocks and influential and generous groups is part of the election game.
When that support tramples over citizens’ rights, we can but wonder if they have crossed the line of loyalty and patriotism. Advancing any other nation’s interest above America’s is grounds for suspicion.
The hostage-taking of the American people as collateral in the tug-of-war over building a wall along the southern border with Mexico is only one manifestation of the deplorable acts of US elected officials. Instead of working on resolving their wall differences and reopening the government, a few Senators are working on a bill that would violate American citizens’ constitutional right to free speech.
The US Senate is working on passing this bill to criminalize the right of Americans to protest Israel. It is true that the American public is in a state of shock over what might turn out to be the most extended government shutdown in US history, but still, they have the capacity to call a foul on this political play.
It is easy to dismiss my accusations and that of others under the false guise of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is not exclusive to the Jewish people. Arab-Americans are Semitic ourselves. If at anytime the nation turns on its Jewish citizens, we will be undoubtedly next.
So if not for altruistic reasons, if not for moral reasons, if not for basic human decency, then for self-preservation. Arab-Americans will never compete with the racism of white supremacist in vilifying Jews. The memory of Charlottesville, VA of last year is still fresh; supremacist marching while chanting the slogan “Jews will not replace us!”
The six-pointed star-spangled banner
While the country is waiting for the Robert Mueller report to reveal whether there was collusion between the Trump election campaign and Russia – whether Russia’s Putin has undue leverage over the president of the United States, Americans are not nearly as outraged as they should when members of Congress pledge their allegiance to Israel by sacrificing American citizens’ fundamental constitutional rights.
These power-hungry politicians are reneging on the oath of office they took to defend the constitution and allegiance to the United States. They are no longer working for the American people; they are only concerned with kissing AIPAC’s ring to increase their reelection bids chances.
Supporters of SB1 are treading on the constitution by violating American citizens first amendment rights. Defeating this bill is not anti-Semitism; it is the patriotic thing to do.
Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.