Isn’t it cute when far-left progressives pretend to care about free speech? Of course, when this happens, it’s typically because they are attempting to further a particular agenda. Recently, they have targeted a proposal by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has spent the past week defending his bill which is designed to support Israel, one of the United States’ closest allies.
Partnering with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Rubio introduced legislation intended to counter the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement, which seeks to end U.S. support of the Jewish state. If passed, the bill would permit state and local governments to refuse to do business with companies that support the BDS agenda.
Rubio and others have argued that these individuals might be stretching the truth.
The bill failed to pass the Senate due to a procedural issue, but Rubio stated that the legislation “will come back” after the government shutdown ends. The proposal – as with many other anti-BDS measures – has earned the ire of some Democratic lawmakers, who have grown increasingly critical of Israel over the past few years. Progressives in Congress are pushing back against the proposed legislation, claiming that it violates the First Amendment. However, Rubio and others have argued that these individuals might be stretching the truth.
Progressives Now Support Free Speech
Newly-elected Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) launched a series of criticisms against the bill, claiming that it would violate the First Amendment rights of companies who support the BDS movement. “They forgot what country they represent,” she wrote about Rubio and Manchin in a blistering tweet. “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.”
Channeling his inner Trump, Senator Rubio fired back on Twitter. “This ‘dual loyalty’ canard is a typical anti-Semitic line,” he wrote. “#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.”
Free Speech or Anti-Semitism?
Progressives in Congress are opposing the anti-BDS law on the grounds that it violates companies’ right to free speech, but supporters of Rubio’s bill suggest that these claims may be exaggerated. The proposed law does not prohibit companies from boycotting Israel or supporting a movement promoting such actions against the Jewish state.
Businesses that align with BDS are not subject to fines or imprisonment for their actions. Rubio’s law would simply allow certain government agencies to refrain from engaging in business activity with these organizations. It would not prevent companies from expressing their views for or against Israel.
According to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), anti-BDS legislation does not impact freedom of expression:
“Nothing in the Israel-Anti-Boycott Act restricts constitutionally-protected free speech. The bill only regulates commercial conduct intended to comply with, further or support unauthorized foreign boycotts. American courts have routinely upheld federal laws restricting commerce that conflicts with U.S. foreign policy interests as not violating free speech.”
Many Democratic lawmakers have been reticent to express support for the BDS campaign. Indeed, when Rubio first introduced the law, they avoided addressing the proposal because they realized that it would force them to commit to a public stance on the issue. The bill is currently stalled, but as Rubio stated, the proposal will eventually be up for another vote.
When the bill returns to the floor, there will likely be another spirited debate over whether or not the legislation is a violation of the First Amendment. Either way, the nation has not heard the last of this clash over anti-BDS legislation, and the heated debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no closer to finding a solution.