Happy to report Senate has voted to take up our Middle East bill with large bipartisan support. We must stand strong with our allies in #Israel & #Jordan as they face the threat of #Iran #Hezbollah & #ISIS https://t.co/qhYGx2nCOR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 29, 2019
Most US Senators Put A Foreign Government’s Demands Above Constitution
By Haider Umar/Arab America Contributing Writer
In the wake of the longest government shut down in US history, the first Senate Bill presented by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sought to forward the demands of the Israeli government at the expense of our First Amendment. The Bill got 74 out of 100 votes in the Senate.
Yes, you heard that right. After the government shut down ended, Congress resumed session and opened its floor again this week and the very first Bill to be brought up to the Floor had absolutely nothing to do with America’s domestic issues but rather the interests of the Israeli government.
If the Bill just consisted of further arming Israel against its non-existent threats it wouldn’t be news, it would be an average Tuesday on the hill.
As if arming the strongest army in the Middle East (16th in the world) was not controversial enough, these Senators had to go the extra mile and bury our first amendment to appease a foreign government’s anti-free speech agenda.
What does, S.1 or Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 do?
On the surface, it gives Israel a brand new American sponsored arms budget, but as you continue reading, you realize the evils of S.1. It is a brazen and undisguised attempt to strip Americans of their first amendment rights when it comes to criticizing Israel. This act is unprecedented.
“In the midst of a partial government shutdown, Democratic and Republican senators have decided that one of their first orders of business should be to sneak through a bill that would weaken Americans’ First Amendment protections”–American Civil Liberties Union.
But how? You ask…well the answer is simple. S.1 introduces an agenda that would allow states to use their police powers to halt, disband, and punish those who boycott a country (Israel) and its products.
See where we’re going with this? S1 is a bill designed explicitly to silence political advocacy movements like the BDS Movement that try to hold Israel accountable to its human rights violations against Palestinians. S1 would rob Americans of their inalienable right to protest peacefully and express their opposition to a foreign government’s actions. All for the sake of pleasing our “allies.”
This is a blatant, dangerous encroachment on our constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free speech; this bill deeply offends not only all Arab Americans but all Americans who cherish their freedoms.
So why is Senator Marco Rubio trying to pass this travesty onto us? Well, it’s because of the political influence and formidable lobbying abilities of Pro-Israel groups who zealously work to build pro-Israel sentiments in the U.S. through political and media manipulation.
S.1 takes this agenda a step further by trying to alter the way American civil liberties work fundamentally. Its authors are trying to undermine the constitution while pretending to protect it.
The popular opposition to this Bill is natural since it is fundamentally against American political culture to obstruct free speech. The ACLU has said as much. Opinions of Democrats against this bill seem to reiterate its unconstitutionality and show support for the right to protest. None of the Republicans opposed it. Even Rand Paul (R-KY) who is a fierce critic of all foreign aid including to Israel, decided not to vote this time.
Many Arab Americans applaud the members of Congress that stand for America’s essence; a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Below is the list of those Senators who abide by our constitutional rights and those who dance to the tune of pro-Israel lobbyists.
Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Van Hollen (D-MD)
Not Voting – 7
According to a pro-Palestine advocate in Washington D.C., “For better or worse, Palestine and BDS are becoming an issue if not THE issue in current US politics. While it might fracture the Democratic Party to the point of losing 2020, such a result would be the consequence of establishment Democrats.”
In the past few years, studies and polls of American public opinion have shown steady growth in support for Palestinian rights and opposition to Israeli policies, especially amongst the younger generations. That’s natural given Americans’ innate inclination to support self-determination and independence.
Movements like BDS and other pro-rights organizations are an expression of that sentiment, not a result of foreign-agent interventions or lobbyist-funded PR campaigns. It’s about time our representatives in Congress acknowledged that reality. More importantly, they need to remember what their job is. Their job is to represent the American people, protect our rights and liberties, and defend us from foreign interventions.
2020 is not far away, and those politicians will have to explain how it is in our interest to cower to foreign agendas at the expense of our liberties.