Rubio Defends Anti-BDS Bill Over Criticisms From Sanders, Tlaib

Mike Brest | Reporter

Flordia Republican Sen. Marco Rubio defended a bill that would hurt the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement on Monday after receiving criticisms from Vermont Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders and Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

The official BDS website describes the movement as one trying to uphold “the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity,” but others view it as an anti-Semitic movement.

Sens. Marco Rubio and James Risch introduced the bill, S.B. 1, last week, which consolidated four different bills into one. It would provide Israel with $38 billion from the U.S. in defense spending, reauthorize cooperation with Jordan and reimpose sanctions on Syria. The bill would also allow state and local governments to boycott companies that boycott the country of Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post.

US Republican Senator Marco Rubio speaks with Israeli President before a meeting on February 20, 2013 at the presidential compound in Jerusalem. (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Sanders was critical of the fact that the first bill in the Senate is not related to sending the ongoing partial government shutdown. He also condemned the bill because it “punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity.”

Rubio was quick to respond to Sanders’ comments about punishing people who want to express their right to protest.

The Florida senator tweeted, “My bill doesn’t punish any political activity. It protects the right of local [and] state govts [sic] that decide to no longer do business with those who boycott . So boycotting  is a constitutional right, but boycotting those participating in  isn’t?”

Rep. Tlaib — who previously announced her support of the BDS movement — was also critical of the bill. (RELATED: America’s First Two Muslim Congresswoman Officially Endorse Anti-Israel Legislation)

She quote tweeted Sanders adding, “They forgot what country they represent. This is the [United States] where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom [and] 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.”

Once again, Rubio was responded to Tlaib’s attack.

He tweeted at her: “This ‘dual loyalty’ canard is a typical anti-Semitic line.  isn’t about freedom & equality, it’s about destroying . And if boycotting is constitutionally protected, then boycotting companies that boycott is also constitutionally protected.”

Rubio’s mention of “dual loyalty” is a reference about feeling an obligation to both Israel and the United States. The American Jewish Committee tweeted a photo of Tlaib hugging a woman wearing a Palestinian flag with the caption, “Tell us more about dual loyalty, Rashida Tlaib.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi poses for photographs with Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her family in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol January 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi poses for photographs with Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her family in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol January 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the biggest supporters of Rubio and Risch’s bill.

An AIPAC spokesperson told TheDC:

We strongly support this legislation because it ensures Israel has the means necessary to defend itself-by itself-against growing threats and helps protect the right of states to counter boycotts against Israel. Any contention that the bill infringes upon First Amendment rights is simply wrong. The legislation has no impact on the right of Americans to personally boycott Israel or oppose Israeli policies.

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