Today, The Intercept tweeted about an article they published questioning the U.S. Senate’s first bill that had bipartisan support for the Israeli government, against boycotts.
No big deal, right? After all, Israel is our most loyal ally in the Middle East.
They even featured a photo of Jewish Senator Chuck Schumer in their piece that calls out Senator Rubio for sponsoring the bill to protect Israel from financial harm.
— The Intercept (@theintercept) January 5, 2019
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From the Intercept article- When each new session of Congress is gaveled into session, the chambers attach symbolic importance to the first piece of legislation to be considered. For that reason, it bears the lofty designation of H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate.
In the newly controlled Democratic House, H.R.1 — meant to signal the new majority’s priorities — is an anti-corruption bill that combines election and campaign finance reform, strengthening of voting rights, and matching public funds for small-dollar candidates. In the 2017 Senate, the GOP-controlled S.1 was a bill, called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” that, among other provisions, cut various forms of corporate taxes.
But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered — S.1 — is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign policy-related measures, the main one of which is a provision — with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor — to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As The Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities that participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.
Punishment aimed at companies that choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity. That was the case with Texas elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi,who lost her job working with autistic and speech-impaired children in Austin because she refused to promise not to boycott goods produced in Israel and/or illegal Israeli settlements.
Thus far, the two federal courts that have ruled on such bills have declared them to be unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment speech rights of American citizens. “A restriction of one’s ability to participate in collective calls to oppose Israel unquestionably burdens the protected expression of companies wishing to engage in such a boycott,” U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa of Arizona wrote in her decision issuing a preliminary injunction against the law in a case brought last September by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of “an attorney who has contracted with the state for the last 12 years to provide legal services on behalf of incarcerated individuals,” but lost his contract to do so after he refused to sign an oath pledging not to boycott Israel.
A similar ruling was issued in January of last year by a Kansas federal judge, who ruled that state’s Israel oath law unconstitutional on the ground that “the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.” In that case, a Mennonite who was a longtime public school teacher lost her independent contract as a school curriculum developer after she followed her church’s decision to boycott goods from Israeli companies in the occupied West Bank and thus, refused to sign the oath required by Kansas law.
These are the Israel-defending, free speech-punishing laws that Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen. Although Rubio is the chief sponsor, his bill attracted broad bipartisan support, as is true of most bills designed to protect Israel and supported by AIPAC. Rubio’s bill last Congress was co-sponsored by several Democrats who are still in the Senate: Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
The support among Democrats for bills that would punish supporters of the Boycott Israel movement is now particularly awkward given that two of the most prominent newly elected Democratic members — Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first two Muslim women in Congress — are both supporters of that Israel boycott.
Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Somali Muslim immigrant, who has been under investigation for of a number of campaign violations and of being married to and then divorced from her own brother, hasn’t made any secret about her hatred towards Israel. On November 16, 2012, while she was a State Representative in Minnesota, Omar tweeted about how “Israel has hypnotized the world” and asked “Allah” to “awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She ended her tweet with a shout out to Gaza, Palestine, and Israel.
Sanders tweeted his support for the anti-Israel boycott, calling it a “constitutional right” and “political activity.” The Jewish Senator demanded that the Senate “get our priorities right.”
It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity. Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government. Let’s get our priorities right.
It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity. Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government. Let's get our priorities right. https://t.co/rHvpBHtHI5
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 6, 2019
The new Muslim congresswoman, who calls herself a “Palestinian-American,” and on the night she won her election in Michigan, wrapped herself in a Palestinian flag, shared her feelings on Rubio’s bill that would prohibit BDS.
The Congresswoman who made herself famous for telling a room full of liberals that she told her young son that Congress would impeach the motherf–ker (referring to President Trump, arguably Israel’s greatest ally in the history of Presidents of the United States) tweeted:
They forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.
They forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away. https://t.co/KkmqjR58ZM
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) January 7, 2019
Senator Rubio immediately slammed the “anti-Semitic” and classless Palestinian activist with this tweet, reminding her that he would not stand by idly while our strongest ally in the Middle East was being attacked with a boycott by Americans.
This “dual loyalty” canard is a typical anti-Semitic line
#BDS isn’t about freedom & equality, it’s about destroying #Israel And if boycotting #Israel is constitutionally protected, then boycotting companies that boycott #Israel is also constitutionally protected
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 7, 2019
After their inauguration, Hillary Clinton tweeted images of the newly elected DEMOCRAT women to Congress. Clinton welcomed them to Congress (she still thinks she’s the President) and told them to “knock it out of the park.”
To the women sworn in to Congress today, the most in our history: Congratulations. Knock it out of the park. pic.twitter.com/Kj7uyKFxEg
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 3, 2019
We’re pretty sure that Rashida Tlaib intends to “knock it out of the park.” Let’s just hope she leaves the rocks and Molotov cocktails at home.
How do you feel about Senator Rubio’s tweet to the Freshman Congresswoman? Should her first order of business be taking her fight to Israel? Tell us how you feel in the comment section below.