WASHINGTON, DC (JTA) — US Senator Marco Rubio has been pushing a bill that would protect states that penalize Israel boycotters, spurring a freshman congresswoman to question his loyalties.
On Monday, the Florida Republican decried the statement from Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat of Michigan, as anti-Semitic.
“This ‘dual loyalty’ canard is a typical anti-Semitic line,” Rubio said on Twitter, quoting a tweet from the previous day by Tlaib, a Palestinian American. “#BDS isn’t about freedom & equality, it’s about destroying #Israel.”
BDS stands for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.
Tlaib in the earlier tweet had attacked a Senate bill initiated by Rubio and Senator James Risch, an Idaho Republican, that incorporates four Middle East-related bills that languished in the last Congress. One of the measures protects states that pass anti-BDS bills, including those that ban work with contractors who boycott Israel, from lawsuits. Civil libertarians have decried the state laws as impinging on speech freedoms.
“They forgot what country they represent,” Tlaib said in her tweet. “This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality.”
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 7, 2019
Tlaib was quoting a tweet by Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, that described Rubio’s bill as “absurd” at a time that the US government is shut down over President Donald Trump’s refusal to advance funding bills, as long as they do not include the more than $5 billion he is demanding for a border wall with Mexico.
Also weighing in on Tlaib’s tweet was the American Jewish Committee.
“Tell us more about dual loyalty, @RashidaTlaib,” AJC said in a tweet attached to a photo of the newly elected congresswoman embracing someone draped in the Palestinian flag.
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) January 7, 2019
“It’s outrageous to imply dual loyalty because you disagree with a policy initiative,” AJC said in a followup tweet. “A new member of Congress has no place saying that four U.S. Senators don’t know which country they represent.”