1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Congressional Frenzy on Iran Sanctions
3. NORPAC on the Hill
5. Members on the Record
6. From the Press/Blogs
7. "Israel Allies Foundation" to hold "Jerusalem Day Prayer Breakfast" on the Hill
1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
(IRAN SANCTIONS & STAND WITH ISRAEL AGAINST IRAN) S. Res. 65: On 5/22, the Senate voted to pass S. Res. 65 -- "A resolution strongly supporting the full implementation of United States and international sanctions on Iran and urging the President to continue to strengthen enforcement of sanctions legislation" -- by a vote of 99-0. The resolution arrived on the floor with a total of 92 cosponsors, and was passed following 60 minutes of "debate" which involved no debate but more resembled a competition to see who could sound the most bellicose with respect to Iran and the most ardent with respect to support for Israel (full proceedings here; statement by Collins, R-ME, here).
As reported previously in the Round-Up, S. Res. 65 was introduced in conjunction with the March 2013 AIPAC policy conference and has since been a key "ask" of AIPAC supporters. Since then, the resolution was substantively and significantly amended in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to change it from a bright green light for Israeli military action against Iran to a somewhat more conditional, yellow light. In order to claim pure victory with this resolution, advocates of S. Res. 65 continue to act as if the amendment never happened (and most media outlets are reflecting this narrative). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the passage of S. Res. 65 in remarks at the opening of his meeting with Secretary of State Kerry on 5/23. S. Res. 65 was also one of the focal points of the May 8 NORPAC lobby day. NIAC's statement condemning passage of S. Res. 65 is here. The headline in the Times of Israel 5/23 was: "Senate backs Israel in event of strike on Iran nuclear weapon program". The headline in the Jerusalem Post 5/24 read: "Senate resolution: US will back Israeli force on Iran." See section 2, below, for additional related media reports.
(MORE IRAN SANCTIONS, DESIGNATE IRGC AS FTO, RESCIND PRESIDENTIAL WAIVERS) HR 850: On 5/22, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) held a markup of HR 850 (video here), the "Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013." The bill was introduced 2/27 by HFAC Chair Royce (R-CA) and Engel (D-NY), and currently has 348 other cosponsors. As previously reported in the Round-Up, HR 850 was introduced in conjunction with the March 2013 AIPAC policy conference and has since been a key "ask" of AIPAC supporters; it was also one of the focal points of the May 8 NORPAC lobby day. APN strongly objects to this bill - APN's statement on HR 850 is available here.
The HFAC significantly amended the bill, making an already problematic bill much worse. It adopted a far-reaching Royce amendment in the nature of a substitute (text here), as well as a raft of other amendments, summarized here. These include an amendment offered by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) (page 30 of the en bloc amendment) that would repeal the President's authority to waive certain sanctions. In an almost comedic twist, they also included a patently unconstitutional amendment from Chairman Royce seeking to make the effective date for penalties under the act retroactive to the May 22, 2013 (as opposed to becoming effective the date they actually become law). The goal of this effort - discussed at length in the committee - was to prevent Iran from taking advantage of the time it takes Congress to actually pass this legislation, by making banks liable in the future for criminal penalties for actions that were not illegal when they were undertaken. In the end, following intervention from Grayson (D-FL), this amendment was amended to include a "severability" clause under which it could be simply cut out of the bill if found unconstitutional (rather than having the entire bill tossed out with it). In addition, the committee was the platform for a bizarre effort by Cotton (R-OK) to make it U.S. law that all blood relatives of Iran sanctions violators are subject to the same criminal penalties as their relatives, simply for the sin of being part of the family tree (including grandchildren, nieces/nephews, great-grandparents and great-grandchildren). This so-called "corruption of blood" approach is actually banned under the U.S. constitution. The amendment was eventually withdrawn, but only after an almost surreal debate (with Grayson once again taking a key role defending the U.S. constitution). The latter two amendments underscored the apparent unfamiliarity with some in Congress with the U.S. Constitution or, perhaps more worrying, the readiness of some to ignore the Constitution in order to score political points.
Chairman Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Engel (D-NY) issued a press release applauding the committee for approving the bill (here). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the HFAC's action on HR 850 in remarks at the opening of his meeting with Secretary of State Kerry on 5/23. NIAC's statement on passage of HR 850 is here. See section 2, below, for related media reports.
(EVEN MORE IRAN SANCTIONS) S.892: On 5/21 the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing to examine the Financial Stability Oversight Council annual report to Congress, including S. 892, the "Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act of 2013," introduced 5/8 by Kirk (R-IL) and presently having 20 cosponsors. The hearing witness was Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew (Lew's testimony is available here; video of the hearing is here). S. 892 is being actively lobbied by NORPAC (see Section 3, below), who stated in a 5/22 Action Alert that Sen. Kirk (R-IL) had requested NORPAC's assistance in rallying cosponsors for the measure. See section 2, below, for related media reports.
(SYRIA - ARM OPPOSITION, ETC) S. 960: On 5/21, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considered S. 960, the "Syria Transition Support Act of 2013," and ordered to be reported with amendments favorably. The bill was introduced 5/15 by Menendez (D-NJ) and two cosponsors. Reporting on the introduction of S. 960 is available here. The Coalition for a Democratic Syria praised the SFRC's passage of the bill. Business Insider reported on the bill 5/21: New Arms Bill In Congress Could Involve Major Sanctions On Russia; ForeignPolicy.com's "the Cable" carried an article 5/21 headlined, "Rand Paul: My colleagues just voted to arm the allies of al Qaeda."
(AND STILL MORE IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 1001: Introduced 5/21 by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) and 16 cosponsors, "A bill to impose sanctions with respect to the Government of Iran." The short title is, the "Iran Export Embargo Act." Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. See section 2, below, for related media reports.
(YES, STILL MORE IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 965: Introduced 5/15 by Inhofe (R-OK) and 10 cosponsors, "A bill to eliminate oil exports from Iran by expanding domestic production." Referred to Senate the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Inhofe's 5/15 statement introducing the bill is here. His floor statement on the bill delivered 5/16 is here. His press release is here. See section 2, below, for related media reports.
(NOT DONE YET - HERE'S MORE IRAN SANCTIONS + REGIME CHANGE) S. XXX: It is being reported that a new Iran sanctions bill will soon be introduced in the Senate, the "Iran Sanctions & Human Rights Act of 2013" (ISHRA). A summary of the bill is available here. Background/discussion/analysis of the measure is available here and here. See section 2, below, for related media reports.
(IRAN "POLITICAL REFORM") S. Res. 154: Introduced 5/23 by Hoeven (R-ND) and Blumenthal (D-CT), "A resolution supporting political reform in Iran and for other purposes." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
(ISRAEL'S "QUALITATIVE MILITARY EDGE") HR 1992: Introduced 5/15 by Collins (R-GA) and 10 cosponsors, "the Israel QME Enhancement Act." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Collins statement 5/16, notes: "H.R. 1992 updates the definition of 'qualitative military edge' so that the asymmetric and cyber warfare are considered and would require a 2-year reporting process." Press release from Schneider (D-IL) touting the bill's introduction here. See the Algemeiner for reporting on the bill.
(PEACE PROCESS) H. Res. 238: Introduced 5/23 by Lee (D-CA) and 4 cosponsors, "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding United States efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The "resolved" clauses of the resolution read:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) reaffirms its commitment to supporting United States actions that promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians and are designed to ensure the safety and security of Israel and its people;
(2) reaffirms its support for previous agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians and adopted by third parties that recognize Israel's right to exist and promote a Palestinian state to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for self-determination within their own nation;
(3) commends the Obama administration and its predecessors for their resolute commitment to Israel's survival and security and for their efforts to demonstrate this commitment through the promotion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a resolution of their conflict and the establishment of a long-term peace in the region;
(4) calls on Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist, denounce violence, abide by existing agreements, and to prevent rocket and missile attacks against Israel;
(5) calls upon states, international organizations, and individuals to oppose efforts to deny the deep historical, cultural, and spiritual connection of the Jewish people to Israel;
(6) calls upon Arab and Muslim-majority states to build upon efforts such as the Arab Peace Initiative, combat anti-Israel extremism, and otherwise work towards full normalization of state-to-state relations with the State of Israel;
(7) calls on the Israeli Government to cease support for and to prevent further settlement expansion in the Occupied Territories;
(8) commends the Obama administration for supporting Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense System to help intercept rocket attacks and prevent them from devastating civilian populations in Israel;
(9) calls on Israel and Hamas to uphold the existing ceasefire agreement and exercise strong caution so as to avoid an escalation that would only lead to further violence, destruction, and loss of life;
(10) applauds President Obama's recent efforts at the beginning of his second term to initiate a new, diplomatic effort with the mandate for negotiations to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian people and urges continued robust efforts towards a peaceful resolution; and
(11) calls on President Obama to establish an achievable timeline for negotiations backed by a strong international coalition of stakeholders including `The Quartet' to provide assurance to the negotiating parties that their agreement will be enduring and enforceable.
(THREATS FROM THE MIDEAST & NORTH AFRICA) S.1021: Introduced 5/22 by Shaheen (D-NH), "A bill to provide for a Next Generation Cooperative Threat Reduction Strategy, and for other purposes." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. In her statement introducing the bill, Shaheen noted, "The bill calls for the President to develop and implement a multi-year comprehensive regional assistance strategy to coordinate and advance CTR and nonproliferation in the Middle East and North Africa..." She also noted, "To date, we have largely kept WMD materials out of terrorists' hands. Unfortunately, however, being successful ``to date'' is not good enough. When it comes to terrorism and WMD in our world, the reality is that the international community cannot afford to make a single mistake. We cannot be complacent because one miscalculation ..... one unprotected border ..... one unsecured facility ..... could all lead to a mushroom cloud somewhere in our world." Finally, she gave, "special thanks to the Co-Chairs of the Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy, including David Albright, Mark Dubowitz, Orde Kittrie, Leonard Spector and Michael Yaffe, whose report, 'U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East,' served as the inspiration for this legislation."
(ASSAD WAR CRIMES) H. Res. 229: Introduced 5/21 by Israel (D-NY) and Cole (R-OK), "Calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and others to be tried before the International Criminal Court for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(EGYPT) S. 984: Introduced 5/16 by Toomey (R-PA), "A bill to prohibit the use of funds for United States participation in joint military exercises with Egypt if the Government of Egypt abrogates, terminates, or withdraws from the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty." Referred to Senate Committee on Armed Services. Toomey press release announcing the bill here.
(TURKEY) H. Res. 227: Introduced 5/20 by Valadao (R-CA) and three cosponsors, "Calling on the President to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey's full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(JORDAN) H. Res. 222: Introduced 5/17 by Meeks (D-NY) and 12 cosponsors, "Recognizing the long-term partnership and friendship between the United States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, working together towards peace and security in the Middle East." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Meeks' statement recognizing Jordan is available here.
(SYRIA) H. Res. 223: Introduced 5/17 by Moran (D-VA), "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives concerning the ongoing conflict in Syria and the urgent need for the Syrian Opposition Coalition and local coordinating committees in Syria to assume the responsibilities of governance including the establishment of institutions of transitional justice, and to guarantee the rights of all Syria's people, regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Moran statement 5/17 on the introduction of the resolution is available here.
(PALESTINIAN INCITEMENT) Engel et al: Rep. Engel (D-NY) led a group of members in sending a letter 5/15 to Palestinian president Abbas condemning statements made by one Fatah official and noting (among other things) that "allowing this type of incitement and hatemongering to take place within your ranks is intolerable if you are truly dedicated to non-violence." The letter was cosigned by Royce (R-CA), Lowey (D-NY), Deutch (D-FL), and Sherman (D-CA). The press release touting the sending of the letter is here. As noted below, one of the key asks of NORPAC supporters during their May 8 lobby day was, "Will you raise the issues of incitement against Israel and the glorification of acts of terror in the Palestinian education system when you meet with leaders of the Palestinian Authority?" This letter appears to be a pretty direct answer to that question.
(IRAN-TURKEY RELATIONS) Duncan et al: On April 11th (not reported previously) a Rep. Duncan (R-SC) and a group of 46 cosigners sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Lew requesting information "information about the efficacy of Turkish measures to support sanctions on Iran and prevent funding of terrorist organizations."
2. Congressional Frenzy on Iran Sanctions
The past two weeks have seen a lot of action on Iran on the Hill (see Section 1, above, for details of the individual bills). This action is highlighted/summarized in an excellent analysis published 5/21 from the Arms Control Center: Congress Plans Tough New Sanctions Amidst Widespread Skepticism. Below is a summary of the key developments on the Hill related to Iran, over the past two weeks:
· MAY 22: Markup/amendment of HR 850, the "Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013," in the House Foreign Affairs Committee (discussed in Section 1, above).
· MAY 22: Senate passage of S. Res. 65, "A resolution strongly supporting the full implementation of United States and international sanctions on Iran and urging the President to continue to strengthen enforcement of sanctions legislation," discussed above.
· MAY 21: Consideration of S.892, "the Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act of 2013," in the Senate committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (discussed above).
· MAY 21: Introduction of S.1001, "A bill to impose sanctions with respect to the Government of Iran"
· MAY 15: Introduction of S. 965, "A bill to eliminate oil exports from Iran by expanding domestic production."
Atlantic Sentinel 5/24: Congress Seeks More Iran Sanctions, Frustrates Diplomatic Efforts
Reuters 5/23: U.S. House committee approves measure to back Israel in case of nuclear Iran attack [Israeli attack on Iran]
Inter Press 5/23: U.S. Congress Moves Toward Full Trade Embargo on Iran
The Hill 5/22: Senate votes 99-0 on a resolution calling for tougher Iran sanctions
VOA 5/22: US Lawmakers Pledge to Back Israel Against Iran
CQ News 5/22: GOP Senators Propose Full Embargo on Iran
JTA 5/22: Iran legislation moves through Congress
AFP 5/22: US House panel backs stiff new Iran sanctions
AP 5/22: House committee approves Iran sanctions bill
Bloomberg 5/22: U.S. Senate Votes to Endorse Continuing Sanctions Against Iran
Washington Times 5/22: House panel urges Obama to expand sanctions on Iran
Press TV (Iran) 5/22:US Senate betrays US Constitution for Israel
Arutz Sheva (settlers' media outlet) 5/22: House Committee to Push for More Iran Sanctions
Reuters 5/20: U.S. Congress moves to tighten sanctions on Iran
Washington Post 5/20: Iran policy reaches day of reckoning (Jennifer Rubin)
The Times of Israel 5/19: Congress set to tighten economic noose on Iran
The Hill 5/18: Congress defies White House with new round of Iran sanctions
Jerusalem Post 5/16: US senators urge Obama to up Iran sanctions (Bloomberg)
Jewish Voice NY 5/15: Congress Seeks to Cut Iranian Access to Foreign Currency
FPI 5/14: FPI Bulletin: Obama and Congress Must Max Out Iran Sanctions--Now
Roll Call 5/13: Chambers Prepare for Another Round of Iran Sanctions
Washington Post 5/13: Frustrated with diplomacy, some in Congress seek total ban on Iran's oil
LobeLog 5/10: New Congressional Sanctions Push Aimed at Killing Iran Diplomacy (NIAC's Jamal Abdi)
3. NORPAC on the Hill
NORPAC - one the largest PACs in the "pro-Israel" category - had its annual Washington lobby day on May 8. The talking points it provided to participants are available online, in both a lengthy version (here) and a "quick" version (here). The issues lobbied by NORPAC supporters were virtually identical to those of AIPAC supporters who were on the Hill earlier this year (as reported in the 3/8/13 edition of the Round-Up). That said, the lobbying talking points offer additional insight into how these activists are making their case to elected officials. The specific "asks" they made on the Hill were:
- ForOps Approps: "Will you support the annual fiscal year 2014 (FY2014) foreign aid bill including $3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel?"
- Defense Approps: "Will you support the fiscal year 2014 (FY2014) appropriation of $220 million in Iron Dome funding to Israel?"
- Iran sanctions, HR 850: House -- "Will you cosponsor and support the legislation to toughen Iran sanctions"; Senate - "Would you support legislation similar to the House Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 which broadens Iran sanctions?"
- "Resolution Backing Israel Against Iran" [title used in NORPAC talking points]: "If not a co-sponsor: Will you co-sponsor S. Res. 65 in support of Israel's right to self-defense?"
- United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, HR 938 and S. 462:"Will you cosponsor and support the [House/Senate] bill to enhance U.S.-Israel security cooperation?"
- "Palestinian incitement and the peace process": "Will you raise the issues of incitement against Israel and the glorification of acts of terror in the Palestinian education system when you meet with leaders of the Palestinian Authority?"
In addition, an Action Alert circulated by NORPAC on 5/22 urged Senators to cosponsor S. 892, and noted, "This year, NORPAC Mission participants had the opportunity to be the first advocates to introduce Members of the Senate to the Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act (S. 892). This important bill amends previous legislation to block Iran's access to its foreign exchange reserves, particularly its foreign-held euro reserves. It has the potential to deprive Iran of $100 Billion in foreign reserves..."
The number of members who in the days since the May 8 lobby day have added their names as cosponsors to the various pieces of legislation NORPAC is supporting (along with other organizations) is summarized below (numbers accurate as of this writing):
· HR 850: 40 (out of a total of 352)
· S. Res. 65: 1 (out of a total of 92)
· HR 938: 59 (out of a total of 288)
· S. 462: 5 (out of a total of 33)
· S. 892: 16 (out of 21)
Finally, the long version of the talking points addresses questions that might come up about aid to Israel and the sequester, as follows (formatting taken directly from the NORPAC publication):
The Sequester and the U.S. Budget (relevant to both foreign aid and Iron Dome)
Background information; NOT to be used as part of talking points unless "sequester" issue is raised by Congressperson/aide:
The Budget Control Act of 2011 provides (a) for a decrease to the U.S. deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years and (b) that if Congress cannot agree on targeted (program-specific) reductions for a given fiscal year, the reduction for that year will be achieved through automatic across-the-board cuts (known as "sequestrations") split evenly between defense and domestic spending. In fact, Congress could not agree on targeted reductions for FY 2013 (Fiscal Year 2013, the twelve-month period ending 9/30/13). The sequester therefore kicked in. As part of the sequester, (1) foreign aid for Israel for FY 2013 was reduced, along with all other foreign aid programs, by 5%, or $155 million (5% of $3.075 billion) and (2) Iron Dome funding for FY 2013 was reduced, along with all other defense spending, by 7.8%, or $17.16 million (7.8% of $220 million).
The "Asks" for FY 2014 are (1) the full $3.1 billion of foreign aid agreed to by the U.S. and Israel in 2007 under the "memorandum of understanding"; the MOU specifies the amount of foreign aid the Administration will seek from Congress for Israel in each of the following ten years and (2) the full $220 million for Iron Dome requested in the President's proposed defense budget.
In the unlikely event that the Congressperson/aide raises the sequester issue with respect to FY 2013, simply note that, like almost all Americans, we believe that deficit reduction should be achieved by a more thoughtful approach than automatic across-the-board cuts and hope that the deficit reduction called for in FY 2014 can be achieved in a rational way. Highlight the fact that this approach of automatic cuts affects important programs across the United States.
May 22: Hearing in the Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence: Subcommittee Hearing: Assessing the Threat to the Homeland from al Qaeda Operations in Iran and Syria. Opening Statements: Rep. King (R-NY), Chairman; Witnesses: Seth Jones (International Security and Defense Policy Center); Robin Simcox (The Henry Jackson Society); Thomas Joscelyn (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies), and Barak Barfi (New America Foundation).
May 22: Hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa: The Middle East and North Africa FY 2014 Budget: Priorities and Challenges. Witnesses: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones & Acting USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Alina Romanowski. Video of hearing here.
May 22: Markup in the House Foreign Affairs Committee of HR 850, Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013. Chairman Royce on the markup: "Iran's march towards nuclear weapons continues. A nuclear Tehran is the gravest threat facing the U.S. and our allies. The U.S. must respond with crippling sanctions and a coherent policy aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Only by taking pressure on the regime to the max does this policy have a chance of succeeding." Video of hearing: Part 1, Part 2. Royce's amendment in the nature of a substitute is here. Summary and text of other amendments here.
May 21: Hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee: The Call for Economic Liberty in the Arab World. Witnesses: Hernando de Soto (President, Institute for Liberty and Democracy - full text of statement) and Madeleine K. Albright (Chairman, Albright Stonebridge Group - full text of statement). Royce op-ed in the Hill, 5/20: The call for economic liberty in the Arab world. Hearing announcement 5/16: Chairman Royce Announces Hearing on Economic Roots of the Arab Spring. Opening statement from Ranking member Engel (D-CA) is here. Video of hearing here.
May 15: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing entitled, "Preventing a Nuclear Iran." Witnesses: Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (prepared statement) and David Cohen, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (prepared statement). Royce opening statement is here; video of his Q&As is here. Engel's opening statement is here. Ros-Lehtinen statement here. Reporting on the hearing here. Video of hearing here.
May 15: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, "U.S. Policy Toward Iran." Witnesses: Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (prepared statement), David Cohen, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (prepared statement). Menendez opening statement here. Reporting on the hearing here. Video of hearing here.
May 15: Immediately following the hearing (above), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met in a CLOSED hearing to receive an Intelligence Update on Iran from national security briefers.
May 14: The Senate Armed Services Committee met to receive a CLOSED briefing on the situation in Syria. Scheduled witnesses were James Miller, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Lt. Gen. Terry Wolff, Director, Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5) Joint Chiefs of Staff.
5. Members on the Record
Moran (D-VA) 5/23: Anniversary of the Imprisonment of Baha'i Leaders in Iran
Cohen (D-TN) 5/23: Recognizing the 95th Anniversary of the Republic Day of Azerbaijan
Engel (D-NY) 5/23: Commemorating the Five Year Anniversary of the Unlawful Imprisonment of the Iranian Baha'i Leadership
Waxman (D-CA) 5/21: Honoring the Leadership of Yula High School Students on Their Stand against the Iranian Nuclear Program
Kirk (R-IL) 5/17: Kirk Adds Iranian Blogger Mohammed Reza Pourshajari to the Iranian Dissident Awareness Program
Gohmert (R-TX) 5/17: Another rambling rant attacking the Obama Administration, this time for "deferring" to "pro-sharia Muslim supremacists".
Duncan (R-SC) 5/17: Weirdly racially-tinged statement expressing concern about non-Latinos illegally entering the U.S., and suggesting (among other things) that while Latinos illegally crossing the U.S. border are likely doing so for economic reasons, non-Latinos doing so (specifically, "folks that were Middle Eastern that didn't speak Spanish or English, that spoke Farsi--Africans or Orientals or Asians") must have nefarious motives.
Smith (R-NJ) 5/16: Resolving International Parental Child Abductions to Non-Hague Convention Countries [including Egypt]
Risch (R-ID) 5/15: Risch Questions State Department on Abedini Release Efforts
Lance (R-NJ) 5/15: Lance Asks Why Israel-Related Groups Were Singled Out By I.R.S.
Bordallo (D-GUAM), 5/14: Recognizing the 95th Republic Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan ("...It is the only secular Muslim country that maintains close ties with Israel, supplying roughly forty percent of Israel's energy needs."
Kirk (R-IL) 5/14: Plight of the Bahá'í Community [in Iran]
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/13: Iran Chairing a UN Conference on Disarmament is Like Allowing the Inmates to Run the Prison
6. From the Press/Blogs
MarketWire 5/24: Congressional Notables Participates at Jewish American Heritage Luncheon
APA (Azerbaijan) 5/23: U.S. Congressman meets political refugees from South Azerbaijan
Daily Beast/Open Zion 5/22: NGO Monitor's Selective Attacks on Groups Opposed to U.S. Policies
LA Jewish Journal 5/22: The battle brewing over Sen. Boxer's Israel visa bill
ThinkProgress 5/22: Civil Rights Groups Slam Amendment Targeting Muslim Immigrants
The Jewish Voice 5/22: IRS Said to Have Targeted Pro-Israel Z Street
Wamda 5/21: Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund launches to support Egyptian startups
YNet 5/21: Report: Anti-Israel NGOs receive US funding
Jerusalem Post 5/21: NGO watchdog flags 'inconsistencies' to Congress
Arutz Sheva (settlers' media outlet) 5/21: Report: U.S. Talks Peace, But Aids Incitement
Times of Israel 5/21: US lawmakers blast critics of visa waivers for Israelis
Wafa (Palestine) 5/18: Groups say US Visa Waiver for Israelis should be Reciprocal
Daily Beast 5/16: Critics Fear Visa Waiver For Israel Glosses Over Discrimination Against Americans
Florida Jewish Journal 5/15: Congressman discusses Israel trip (Deutch)
ThinkProgress 5/13: Senate Majority Leader Won't Block Obama On Syria No-Fly Zone
The Sydney Morning Herald 5/13: Israel seeks US visa waiver exemption
San Francisco Chronicle 5/13: Boxer's Israeli visa bill stirs backlash
7. Israel Allies Foundation to hold "Jerusalem Day Prayer Breakfast" on the Hill
On June 4, the "Israel Allies Foundation" will hold a "Jerusalem Day Prayer Breakfast" on Capitol Hill. According to the invitation/announcement, the event will culminate in a press conference during which journalists will hear "Congressional statements on the importance of a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty." An email version of the invitation notes that Representatives' statements will also raise "the need to move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of that fact." IAF's "Declaration of Purpose" states, among other things, that "Jerusalem is, and should be, the undivided capital of Israel and the Jewish People, and in recognition of this all of the nations of the world should locate their embassies in Jerusalem..."
IAF was "pioneered" by far right-wing Israeli former MK Benny Elon, a longtime opponent of the two-state solution, a strong supporter of the settlement movement, a devotee of the "Jordan is Palestine" approach, and an advocate of "transfer" of Palestinians. Elon has authored his own "peace plan" whose first point is: "Government Decision: Declaring the Palestinian Autorithy [sic] an enemy." He and his views have long received a warm welcome from some on Capitol Hill, including as recently as February of this year.