In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio tried to dissuade Democrats from boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech next month.
As of Thursday afternoon, 20 Democrats have announced they intend to skip the address, including Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Pat Leahy and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Rubio, who is contemplating a run for the White House in 2016, said that while lawmakers have a right to skip the speech, they should think of Israelis in the region who are “as threatened today” as they ever have been.
“I can think of no nation on earth that needs our help more right now than Israel. And I can think of no people on earth that deserve our support more than theirs,” Rubio stated Thursday afternoon. “They are reliable, strong, committed ally of this nation.
“They are everything what we want the Middle East to look like in the future: free, prosperous, Democratic, aligned with America, peace-loving, desirous of a better future,” Rubio said. “What more do you want? What more could they do? What else could they be for us to be any stronger an ally of theirs than we should be or are right now?”
“And yet, there are people talking about boycotting the speech to protest, because their feelings are hurt, they’re upset about the way it went down, because they don’t like the way it was scheduled, because it is disrespectful to the president,” Rubio continued. “You have your right to voice your concerns but don’t do this to an ally.”
The Florida Republican then ran through a myriad reasons why a cadre of Democrats should not go ahead with their plan to skip the speech.
“Don’t do this to a nation that is as threatened today as it has ever been. Don’t do this to a people that are in the crosshairs of multiple terrorist groups with the capability of attacking them. Don’t do this to a nation whose civilians are terrorized by thousands of rockets launched against them at a moment’s notice. Don’t do this to a country that’s facing down the threat of a nuclear weapon annihilating them off the face of the Earth,” Rubio continued. “Don’t do this to a people that are being stigmatized all over the world, even as we speak, who are being oppressed. Don’t do this to a country that in forum after forum has become the subject of de-legitimatization as people argue that somehow Israel’s right to exist is not real.”
“Don’t do this to them,” he added.
Netanyahu’s speech in front of Congress is slated for March 3.