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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s embarrassing defeat as a presidential candidate, and his even more humiliating failure to win his own state, Florida, in the presidential primary, has created a great opportunity for the forces of Middle East goodwill to step up to the plate and elect a progressive who can move Israeli-Palestinian peace forward, Patrick Murphy
By Ray Hanania
Nothing was more satisfying than to see the voters in Marco Rubio’s home state of Florida soundly reject his bid for president of the United States.
Rubio, once the much touted “future of American politics” when he won the U.S. Senate seat in Florida in 2010 as a leader of the Tea Party movement, was trounced by Donald Trump, a Republican contender who is both a populist and more of a Democrat than a true Republican.
Rubio, the son of Cuban refugees in a state where Cubanism has reached its highest levels of power, received only 27 percent of the vote or 636,653 total votes in the March 15 Florida Republican Primary election, while Trump, a New York businessman with brash political views that are un-PC, received 46 percent of the vote, or 1,077,221 votes.
The defeat was so impactful that Rubio couldn’t reverse his public vow from 2014 that if he ran for president, he would not seek re-election as a U.S. Senator. Of course, when he made that politically convenient vow, many believed he was the Cuban JFK — which when, you think of it, could be considered offensive to those who believe Kennedy was killed because of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. In other words, Rubio never believed he would be so rejected by his own voter base. So in promising not to run, it was a flimsy one that he could have technically broken and filed for re-election.
There’s still time, but some believe Rubio was so devastated by the rejection that stepping back is the only way to save himself. Maybe, a re-engineered Rubio could run for governor of Florida. He’s still young. And many Florida voters are just plain stupid and that won’t change no matter what happens in politics.
But Rubio was vicious when it came to the Middle East and especially to the Palestinians and Palestinian rights. Rubio rejected all claims by Palestinians to having their own state. He called them all “terrorists,” a racist claim that is racism because he is labeling an entire people.
Rubio’s viciousness against Palestinians is surprising given the fact that Rubio is Cuban and his father fled the regime of the corrupt former President and dictator Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar, more commonly known as Fulgencio Batista. Batista was elected President of Cuba in 1940 and he served in office until 1944. After serving, he left to live in the United States, but returned to Cuba in 1952 to run for president again. But the Cuban voting populace didn’t want Batista and he decided to use his power to overthrow the government and take control, installing himself as Cuba’s new dictator in a military coup.
Batista is notable not only as a brutal and oppressive tyrant who jailed and murdered his critics, but also for his secret deals that he made with the growing Mafia in the United States, mobsters that he became acquainted with while in America.
Many Cuban’s like the Rubio’s fled Batista, but were overwhelmed by refugees who supported Batista’s corruption and oppressive dictatorship who fled in 1954 when Fidel Castor led a “people’s revolution.” Castro was made into the bad guy, proving the axiom that justice only remembers the last person to commit the crime, not the first person who started the criminal procession.
Batista was the true criminal and Castro was his product.
Rubio adjusted to the evolution of Cuban politics to lead the hatred of the Cuban refugees who settled in Florida and became one of their hoped-for leaders. It was that base that helped elevate him and other Cuban Americans to political power.
And while Rubio has advocated that Cuban refugees have a right to return to Cuba and be compensated for the lands and property and rights they lost, Rubio has never believed that Palestinians who fled the establishment of Israel in 1948 also deserve to have their lands, properties and rights restored.
In fact, as a “Christian,” Rubio should be defending the rights of Christian Palestinians, but he doesn’t. Because Rubio isn’t about principle, he is about selfish political gain.
He pandered to the pro-Israel and American Jewish vote, but American Jews were smart enough to see through his feeble principle. Rubio’s love for Israel is not a love at all, just opportunism for self-gain.
But Rubio didn’t gain at all. And now he is out of the picture.
Florida will hold statewide elections for Rubio’s seat and several congressional seats. The filing deadline is June 24, which means Rubio could file and run, if he wasn’t so banged up by his pathetic presidential campaign performance.
The primary elections are August 30 and the general election is November 8.
With Rubio’s career in a wreck, a gaggle of people have thrown their hat in the ring to succeed him. They are Republicans Ron DeSantis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Todd Wilcox, David Jolly, Ernie Rivera, Carlos Beruff, and Howard Knepper have entered the race already. On the other side, Patrick Murphy, Alan Grayson and Pam Keith will compete for the Democratic nomination. The primary elections will take place on August 30, 2016. The general election will take place on November 8, 2016.
Beruff is a racist who has openly attacked Palestinians and rejected the peace process. He is pandering to what he sees as the pro-Israel vote in Florida. But he is widely seen as the leading contender to win the Republican Primary nomination on August 30.
On the Democratic side, Patrick Murphy has openly expressed support for peace based on two-States, which has won him the important endorsement of J-Street, the progressive American Jewish lobby and anti-thesis of AIPAC, the rightwing pro-Israel lobby movement that has dominated Washington D.C. politics for years. J Street (J-Street, JStreet) promises to change all that and bring a more moderate and ethical approach to the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy.
Ben Shnider, J Street’s National Political Director, sent out this email urging their huge database of supporters which not only includes American Jews and Israelis, but many Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims who embrace J Street’s push for a just peace:
Imagine replacing the biggest neocon in the Senate with a J Street-endorsed backer of the Iran deal. Imagine doing it in Florida.
Now imagine waking up on November 9 to realize we’d missed our opportunity and an even bigger hawk had swooped in to take the seat — perhaps affecting the balance of power in the Senate.
These are both possibilities this November. Two-time JStreetPAC endorsee Patrick Murphy has a strong chance of taking Marco Rubio’s seat this November. But it will be one of the most competitive, expensive and ugly races of the year.
Because on the other side, you have candidates like Carlos Beruff, who recently said Donald Trump’s Muslim ban doesn’t go far enough — he’d ban everyone from the Middle East from coming into the US (when pushed, he said he would make an exception for Israel).
All of us should want this win — and want it bad.
This has been a year of unpredictable politics, but here’s one prediction you can bet on: Soon, Florida’s airwaves will be filled with ads attacking Murphy’s support for the Iran deal. Some will likely attack J Street as well.
Outside groups will be desperate to defeat Murphy in Florida so they can say his association with J Street and support for diplomacy cost him.
But imagine how winning in Florida could dispel political fears around these issues and truly transform the politics on Israel and the Middle East.
From this Senate seat, Marco Rubio tried to sabotage the Iran deal by reaching out directly to the Ayatollah with 46 of his colleagues. He’s espoused the view that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aren’t worth pursuing and dismissed the Palestinians as terrorists.
In November, that seat could go to a J Street endorsee. Imagine that.
It is a compelling message and a sign that things could change, if Arabs look past their emotions and see the real goal of peace and justice.
Murphy’s election to succeed the shamed Marco Rubio would be the highest form of justice.
Murphy’s election would send a strong message against the rising tide of extremism both on the pro-Israeli side and the pro-Palestinian side. We need to stand up and speak out against the rejectionism, extremism and violence from both Palestinians fanatics and Israeli fanatics. Jews, Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs need to find a way to come together for the sake of a real peace.
The extremist fanatics, from Rubio to Daesh, Ikhras and their sibling JihadWatch, to Ayelet Shaked, Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas, need to be silenced, marginalized and pushed out of the political dialogue in America.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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