Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.
Report of note: “DIPLOMACY IN CRISIS: The Trump Admin’s Decimation of the State Department,” prepared by Democratic Staff for the SFRC, dated 7/28/20
1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
(NO SLAPP SUITS) HR 7771: Introduced 7/24 by Cohen (D-TN) and no cosponsors, “To protect first amendment rights of petition and free speech by preventing States and the United States from allowing meritless lawsuits arising from acts in furtherance of those rights, commonly called “SLAPPs”, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Citizens Participation Act.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. Cohen’s press release is here.
(FY21 INTELL AUTH) HR 7856: Introduced 7/30 by Schiff (D-CA) “To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2021 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select). The bill 3 Middle East-related provisions:
- Section 805 – Report on understanding potential for and preventing nuclear proliferation in the middle east.
- Section 806 – Report on propagation of extremist ideologies from Saudi Arabia.
- Section 807 – Report on financial influence operations of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
(KEEPING WATCH ON IRANIAN PROXIES) HR 7850: Introduced 7/29 by Schneider (D-IL) and 9 bipartisan cosponsors, “To require a National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian proxy forces, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select), and the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(DESIGNATE PA OFFICIALS SUPPORTERS OF TERRORISM!) Lamborn letter to Trump: On 7/30, the Algemeiner (a right-wing Israel-focused news outlet) reported that Lamborn (R-CO) sent a letter to Trump in which he “urged Trump to designate the PA’s Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs and its director, Qadri Abu Bakr, as sponsors of terror because of their direct involvement in providing monthly payments to terrorists and their families.” Commenting to Arutz Sheva, the Middle East Forum’s Daniel Pipes said: “Rep. Lamborn has taken the next step after the Taylor Force Act and focused on the key Palestinian Authority bureaucrat who makes sure that the families of Jew-killers are amply rewarded for their crimes. Pres. Trump should follow this wise counsel and designate Qadri Abu Bakr a sponsor of terror.’ Note: Since the moment the Taylor Force Act was introduced, I have been warning (including in the Round-Up) that the legislation had nothing to do with concerns about how US aid was being used, and that the real goal of the effort was to lay the groundwork for declaring Palestinian officials, the PA, and the PLO as supporters of terrorism, in order to delegitmize them and impose sanctions against them as such.
(WE <HEART> TRUMP PLAN/ANNEXATION!) Ex-IDF officials to Congress: On 7/29, Israel Hayom (owned by Sheldon Adelson), Jewish News Syndicate (funded by Sheldon Adelson), and Arutz Sheva all came out with the story that more than 1000 ex-IDF officials sent a letter to both the House and Senate praising the Trump plan and pushing back against critics of annexation. According to Arutz Sheva, different letters were sent to Republicans and Democrats (the A7 article includes full text of what it reports is the version sent to Republicans).
(TATA – RESIGN FOR INFLAMMATORY REMARKS) Warren et al letter to Brig. Gen. (ret.) Tata: On 7/24, Senator Warren (D-MA) and nine fellow Senate Democrats sent a letter to retired Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata calling on him to withdraw his nomination to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Department of Defense (DoD) and resign his current position as a senior advisor to the Defense Secretary. The letter notes: “Anyone nominated to be a high-ranking Pentagon official must be qualified and also a person of high character whose record is consistent with the values of our country and those of the U.S. military. Nominees should see the value diversity, inclusion, and unity bring to our institutions. Unfortunately, your history of public remarks does not meet this standard.” The letter goes on to review Tata’s record of remarks, including: “In 2018, you said that Islam is the ‘most oppressive violent religion I know of,’ and that the 2015 agreement to block Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon ‘alone is more than enough evidence of [former President Barack Obama’s] drive to subvert US national interests to Islam and a globalist agenda.’ You called President Obama a ‘terrorist leader’ and alleged that the former president ‘made no secret of his belief that a weaker America made for a stronger world.’ Moreover, you falsely claimed that President Obama ‘is a Muslim’ — repeating a claim used by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and others who attempt to incite anti-Muslim prejudice and otherize Islam by suggesting it is an inferior religion and synonymous with terrorism. You also said in a now-deleted tweet on July 2, 2018, ‘Never a doubt. Among dozens of clues, Obama supported Russian meddling in 2016 election & influenced Israeli elections to try to oust Netanyahu & help Hamas & Muslim brotherhood U.S. really did have Manchurian Candidate in White House.’” Van Hollen press release is here.
2. Hearings & Markups
7/30: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing, “Review of the FY 2021 State Department Budget Request.” The only witness was SecState Pompeo (statement, weighing in at just under 1500 words that are truly illuminating for what he chooses to talk about and how little he feels it necessary to tell the committee). Video is here. Ranking member Menendez (D-NJ) opening statement is here, noting, among other things, “Under your watch, the United States has faced setback after setback on the world stage, ceding leverage and influence to our stated adversaries. Today, Iran is much closer to a nuclear bomb then when you came into office, and despite your maximum pressure campaign, Iran and its proxies continue to create problems throughout the Middle East…” Cruz (R-TX) 7/30 press release – Sen. Cruz Questions Secretary Pompeo Regarding Sanctions for Nord Stream 2 Pipeline and Iran’s Nuclear Program; Barrasso (R-WY) press release – Barrasso Questions Sec. Pompeo on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, Religious Freedom, Iran and China
- HR 7682, Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability, and Fiscal Transparency Act of 2020
- HR 4644, Libya Stabilization Act
- H. Res. 1062, Affirming the nature and importance of the United States – Iraq bilateral relationship, including security and economic components of the relationship – Reschenthaler (R-PA) press release touting HFAC passage of the bill is here)
- HR 3331, Countering Hizballah in Lebanon’s Military Act of 2019
3. On the Record
Members on the Record…
Buck (R-CO) 7/30: Tweet – “According to Twitter, calling for the genocide of the Israeli people is just ‘commentary on political issues of the day.’” (along with link to New York Post article: Twitter defends blocking Trump tweets but not Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei)
Pappas (D-NH) 7/30: House Approves Pappas Amendment to Fund U.S./Israel COVID-19 Research Partnership
Pocan (D-WI) 7/29: Tweet – “It has been over a month since Ahmad Erekat was killed by the Israeli military, and they refuse to return his body back to his family. The Israeli government’s attack on Palestinian human rights has gone on too long. #BringAhmadHome #BringThemAllHome”
Calvert (R-CA) 7/29: Twitter thread – “The next spending package House Democrats are bringing to the floor contains a number of provisions that threaten the safety of Americans. Here are just a few examples:” “The bill repeals the authorization (without replacing it) that has been used by presidents of both parties to eliminate terrorist threats in the Middle East and stop the spread of ISIS.” “The bill places unprecedented restrictions on our military to defend the United States against Iranian aggression towards American interests, including defending Israel.”
Luria (D-VA) and Zeldin (R-NY) 7/29: Reps. Zeldin, Luria Applaud Committee Passage of the Zeldin-Luria Legislation to Curb Hezbollah’s Influence on Lebanese Forces, Combat Growing Threat Towards Israel [Luria Twitter thread]
Lowenthal (D-CA) 7/25: Tweet – “The threat of annexation is undermining a two-state solution, and undermining peace. Congress has spoken forcefully that only a two-state solution can provide a path to peace, safeguarding human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.” [with NYT article, “For Palestinian Police, Much to Lose if Israel Annexes West Bank Land”]
Articles and Reports Related to the Hill
Special mention: Recalling the hot news item last week alleging antisemitism in Ilhan Omar’s campaign (for a mailer that cited press reports mentioning names of apparently Jewish donors to her opponent), I give you this piece, from today’s Daily Kickoff by the Jewish Insider:
“According to the most recent filings from the Federal Election Commission, candidates for Congress in Minnesota’s 5th district have raised over $13 million ahead of the primary, slated for August 11… Prominent backers: Colorado Governor Jared Polis donated $1,000 to Melton-Meaux’s campaign. Other prominent figures backing the Democratic challenger include former Seagrams CEO Charles Bronfman, who gave $6,600; Baupost Capital founder Seth Klarman, who gave $5,600; president of Kraft Family Philanthropies Josh Kraft, who gave $2,800; and Biden campaign Jewish outreach director Aaron Keyak, who gave $250. Melton-Meaux has also received $100,790 donated through NORPAC and $352,648 donated through Pro-Israel America PAC.”
Washington Post 7/29: Pelosi endorses Rep. Tlaib in primary fight, moves to help members of the ‘Squad’
Jewish News Syndicate 7/29: Sanders pushes supporters to campaign for Tlaib, Omar in competitive primaries
Times of Israel 7/29: US pro-Israel group raises $400,000 to boost Ilhan Omar’s primary challenger – Pro-Israel America, which was created by former AIPAC staffers, pumps big money into unseating Minnesota congresswoman
Times of Israel 7/28: Georgia Republican senator removes ad that made Jewish opponent’s nose bigger
Times of Israel 7/28: US Democratic platform nixes conditioning aid to Israel over annexation
Democratic Majority for Israel 7/27: Statement on the Democratic Party’s Draft Platform Language on Israel
Haaretz 7/27: Final Democratic Party Platform Expresses ‘Ironclad’ Support for Israel
JNS 7/27: DNC denies motion to condition aid to Israel, mention ‘occupation’
Dan Shapiro 7/27: Twitter thread on the DNC platform [Also see: Youssef Munayyer tweet — “Congrats on steering Democrat platform language to the right of George Bush and Ariel Sharon”; Danny Seidemann tweet (in response to a different tweet about the platform — “The DNC requires occupational therapy. But it goes well beyond that. Any President who fails to acknowledge the reality of occupation and the existential imperative of ending it for the sake of Palestinians AND Israelis alike is condemned to preordained failure.”]
Jewish Currents 7/27: The First Draft of Biden’s Israel Policy
The Nation 7/27: Will the Left Get a Say in the Biden Doctrine?
Times of Israel 7/25: Elected mayor at 22, gay-Jewish-progressive Alex Morse is running for Congress
Israel Hayom 7/26: AIPAC hails US lawmakers as $3.8B defense aid to Israel clears Congress [inaccurate report – conflates SFOPS approps & NDAA]
YNet 7/26: AIPAC praises Congress for $3.8 billion Israel aid package
Jerusalem Post 7/25: AIPAC praises Israel-related funding as it sails through Congress
ALLMEP 7/24: Congress advances historic fund for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding