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ICYMI: Rubio Speaks to Members of Agudath Israel of America

Apr 10, 2024 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke to members of Agudath Israel of America on the role of family and community, antisemitism, and the Israel-Hamas war.

  • “What holds a nation together, and ultimately, what makes democracy possible…, is a citizenry of people who share a strong…commitment to truth, to unmovable truths, truths that are not dependent upon public opinion or changes in the broader culture led by small minorities.” – Senator Rubio

Click here for video and read a transcript below:

Here in our own nation, I think we are learning the hard and difficult lesson that no society, no matter how advanced your economy may be, how technologically advanced you may be, how stable your democracy and your system of government may be, no nation can be stronger than its culture and its communities, and at its core, its families. 

There is no replacement for the family. Human beings were born and created for the purpose of being raised in families and by parents who instill values at a young age. And it’s a difficult task. It used to take 18 years. Now it takes 22 or 23 or 25. But nonetheless, we [parents] play an important role. The family is the most important government in our country and in any society. The family is the first school that a child will ever attend. And in the absence of that, or in the absence of that stability, everything else begins to break down.

Laws can tell you what is legal. Laws cannot tell you what is good or bad, what is right or wrong. There are many things that are legal, but are wrong. There are many things that may not be a crime, but are immoral. What holds a nation together, and ultimately, what makes democracy possible and a republic possible, is a citizenry of people who share a strong moral conviction and a strong commitment to truth, to unmovable truths, truths that are not dependent upon public opinion or changes in the broader culture led by small minorities.

So, I think any time we have a chance, whether it’s in school choice or respect for religious liberty or what have you, to empower parents and families in the role they play in their children’s lives, [we should take that chance]. One of the, I think, most significant advances that we’ve seen in Florida, and I see it play out every single day, has been the school choice movement. The ability of parents to choose where their kids will be educated, in a place where their culture and their values and their belief systems are reinforced rather than undermined, is critical. It’s not simply about what you are learning in the classroom. It is about those values that you learn then.

I always tell people, and I think it’s particularly true for young men, if you know how to show up on time, that’s like 70 percent of life. If you can just get up in the morning and show up on time where you’re supposed to be, if you can learn that life is not perfect, that we will never live in a utopia, that in life you will have challenges, you will have difficulties that you will have to overcome, that none of us are promised a perfect world or the perfect life, that learning, that resilience, is so critical to success in life. That’s a value. You can’t teach that out of a book. It has to be modeled, and it has to be reinforced. 

And so, whether it’s school choice or [something else], empowering communities and parents and families and religious groups to be able to instill these values is critical, not just for the health of our country, but for the future of our nation. 

Embedded in all of this, of course, are the troubling images I thought I’d never see [of antisemitism on our streets]. To be frank with you, I thought I would never live, in my lifetime, to see protesters in the streets of American cities chanting “Death to America,” but we witnessed that just a few days ago in Dearborn, Michigan, and just yesterday here in the halls of this Capitol.

We’re a pluralistic society. People have an ability to make their decisions on public policy and so forth. But I find it deeply troubling that we live in a nation where, I wouldn’t say it’s a majority, but a significant and loud minority, and frankly, in many cases, an influential minority, is openly advocating on behalf of terrorist organizations. 

That’s what these are. These are evil terrorist organizations that desire death and destruction. When people chant things like “From the river to the sea,” which is thrown around these days like a phrase, what it basically means is a Middle East in which there are no Jews from the [Jordan River] to the [Mediterranean Sea]. That’s what they’re talking about. They’re talking about the eradication of a nation state and its character as a Jewish nation. And that’s the enemy that Israel faces. 

It is the most difficult time in [Israel’s] modern history, probably an inflection point in the history of the Jewish nation. Because as bad as the situation has been in Gaza with what Hamas did on the 7th of October, six months ago now, the hostages that they took the abuses and crimes that they committed, there is not enough attention being paid to what’s happening in the north, to the fact that, today, there are between 80 and 90,000 internally displaced Israelis who cannot return to their homes because they face the constant threat of attacks from Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and that’s going to have to be dealt with. That’s an impending crisis that I think is looming, but it’s very real. 

Also not spoken, and I don’t mean to make this partisan, because I think one of the benefits that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has had up to this point is strong bipartisan support, but anytime there is friction in the U.S.-Israeli relationship, anytime our political leaders decide that in order to appease some radical, left-wing, pro-Hamas element, they are going to create friction in the relationship with Israel, you are undermining the deterrence of Israel’s enemies. 

The way that [friction] is perceived in Tehran, the way that is perceived by Hezbollah, the way that is perceived by the Houthis, the way that is perceived by Hamas is, “We can now do things to Israel, and America will not respond, not just directly, militarily, but America may not even be there to help Israel.” 

God forbid, but the moment [could] arrive where Israel faces a multi-pronged attack, not just by Iran, but by their agents in Syria and in Iraq, by the Houthis, by Hezbollah, all at once, perhaps in retribution for a recent strike, perhaps in a future conflict. Iran is closer to coordinating that because they believe that they can do it, and that the U.S., because of our internal friction with regards to the U.S.-Israeli relationship, will not respond.

That’s a very real threat, and I hope I’m wrong, but we may not see the end of next week without something like that happening. If it does, you will remember that that deterrence was lost and undermined by this desire to appease this radical element of a voting base. 

So, it’s a difficult time in the world. It’s a difficult time in our own country in many respects. But I think we are still blessed to have the freedoms that we do, to be able to gather in a place like this today and speak openly about these things. 

I always tell people that my job is not to make things perfect. There are limits to what the government can do. Governments can’t raise children. Governments can’t teach values to people. We can try to model it the best we can in our role. But our number-one obligation is to keep America safe from its enemies, and our people safe from our enemies and those who seek to harm us. Embedded in that is an obligation to help our friends who share common enemies with us. [Then, we have an obligation to promote] the well-being and the common good of the American people, whether that’s economic or social. 

I’ve never promised or believed that my votes in the Senate or my service in government could ever guarantee a world that will be perfect. That’s not my job. Our job is to make things better, to see opportunities where we can make improvements and make those things better, and ultimately, to remember, every single day, that we are the caretakers, we are the inheritors, of the single greatest nation and society that mankind has ever known. If I could live at any time in any place, I would choose to be a 21st-century American. 

We are still that [great], and our job is to protect that [greatness]. And my job, not just as a senator, but as an American, and the job of everyone in this room, is to do everything we can to ensure that 20 or 30 years from now, our children and grandchildren can say the same thing, that they, too, would rather live in no place, at no other time in history, than in the United States of America.