Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived.
1. Bills, Resolutions
2. FY22 SFOPS on the House Floor
3. Hearings & Markups
4. On the Record
More great FMEP programming:
- FMEP webinar 7/28: Palestinian Liberation & Leadership: What’s Next?, fr. Ines Abdel-Razek (PIPD) and Tareq Baconi (ICG), in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman.
- FMEP podcast 7/28: NSO Group & Israel’s expertise in spyware & repression, ft. FMEP fellow Peter Beinart in conversation with Yousef Munayyer and Dahlia Scheindlin about the Israeli intelligence firm NSO Group, which leases military-grade surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes around the world.
- FMEP podcast 7/25: The System & Soldiers Behind Settler Violence, ft. Avner Gvaryahu (Breaking the Silence) in conversation with FMEP’s Kristin McCarthy, about BtS’s latest report, “On Duty: Settler Violence in the West Bank”
1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
(TARGETING UNRWA, PALESTINIAN REFUGEES, & PALESTINIAN RIGHTS; CONFLATING ISRAEL WITH WEST BANK AND CONFLATING CRITICISM OF ISRAEL WITH ANTISEMITISM) S. 2479 (text) & HR 4721 (text): Introduced 7/27 in the Senate by Risch (R-ID) and 12 Republican cosponsors, and in the House by Roy (R-TX) and 20 Republican cosponsrs, the “United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act” aka, “A bill to withhold United States contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and for other purposes.” Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This bill:
- attacks the UNRWA (the organization)
- attacks Palestinian refugees (legislating them out of existence)
- delegitimizes Palestinian history/narrative/rights (by targeting the mere idea of the right of return)
- attacks non-violent protest of Israel via boycotts of either Israel or settlements (citing an Obama-era trade law to conflate the two), and
- legislates/weaponizes a definition of “antisemitism” that explicitly conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
Tweets/statements in support: Risch (R-ID) [including quotes from all of the Senate cosponsors], Roy (R-TX), Roy (R-TX), Donalds (R-FL), Portman (R-OH), Crapo (R-ID), Rubio (R-FL), Rubio (R-FL), Boozman (R-AR), Boozman (R-AR), Portman (R-OH); Free Beacon 7/27 story breaking news of the legislation: Republicans Want To Cut Funding for Palestinian Refugee Agency
(SETTLEMENTS = ISRAEL!!!!) S. 2489 (text): Introduced 7/27 by Cotton (R-AR) and 5 Republican co-sponsors, “A bill to require the maintenance of the country of origin markings for imported goods produced in the West Bank or Gaza, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Finance. Also see:
- Cotton tweet – “Left-wing activists abuse county-of-origin labels in order to stigmatize products made in Israel [by which he means, in the West Bank]. Our bill will defend the integrity of the Jewish State by ensuring that Israeli products may proudly bear the label ‘Made in Israel’”
- Cotton press release – “Cotton, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Ban Anti-Semitic Country-of-Origin Labels”; Rubio (R-FL) press release
- Jewish Insider 7/29: Republican senators seek to codify Trump settlement import-labeling policy
(CONFLATING ISRAEL W/ JEWS, CRITICISM OF ISRAEL W/ ANTISEMITISM) H. Res. 557: Introduced 7/26 by Cawthorn (R-NC) and 3 Republican cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives against the malignant and metastasizing ideology of anti-Semitism.” Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs. The resolution makes no reference to right-wing sources of antisemitism, but repeatedly invokes Israel and support for Israel, and conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism, including:
- “Whereas polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support Israel, a liberal democracy in a sea of authoritarianism,”
- “Whereas evil people try to cloak anti-Semitism in criticism of the Israeli government,”
- “Whereas anti-Semitism regards Jews around the world as representatives for the nation of Israel and justifies attacking them as proto-military target”
- “Whereas a significant sign of anti-Semitism is holding the nation of Israel to different standards for warfare, government, and behavior” [this is the final whereas clause]
- Resolving that the House “reaffirms the right of Israel to exist and defend her citizens”
- Resolving that the House “reaffirms the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization and rocket attacks against civilians as a terrorist tactic”
- Resolving that the House “rejects the idea that political discussions about Zionism are a legitimate cover for vicious anti-Semitism”
Also see: Jewish leaders give mixed reviews of Madison Cawthorn’s antisemitism resolution (Jewish Insider – TLDR – Mort Klein loves it).
(SANCTIONS ON COUNTRIES THAT VIOLATE HUMAN RIGHTS) HR 4718: Introduced 7/27 by Omar (D-MN), “To provide for the imposition of sanctions with respect to foreign countries that are in violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as the Committees on the Judiciary, Intelligence (Permanent Select), and Homeland Security. Omar announced the bill on Twitter on 7/27: ing the bill: “If we believe in democracy and human rights, we should be loudly decrying the current assault on democracy in Tunisia—the heart of the Arab Spring. If Tunisia’s president does not reverse course, we should suspend all security aid, as is required by law.” and “I will be introducing a bill today to make it illegal for the U.S. to continue to arm human rights abusers.”
(TARGETING HIZBALLAH) H. Res. 558: Introduced 7/26 by Deutch (D-FL) and having 9 bipartisan cosponsors, “Urging the European Union to designate Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Deutch press release is here. Also see: Members of US Congress call on EU to designate Hezbollah in entirety a terror group (EU Reporter)
(SOLIDARITY WITH LEBANON) H. Res. 569: Introduced 7/28 by Lahood (R-IL) and 10 bipartisan cosponsors, “Expressing continued solidarity with the Lebanese people after the devastating explosions at the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, and the continued efforts to form a secure, independent, and democratic Lebanon.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: Lahood (R-IL) press release; Lahood tweet highlighting Issa (R-CA) co-sponsorship.
(NDAA) S. XXXX: On July 22nd the Senate Armed Services completed work on the FY22 NDAA. As of this writing the bill text has not been released. Press release is here; Executive Summary is here. There will be full analysis of the Middle East-related elements in the bill once the actual text is released.
(EXTRA-TERRITORIAL PERSECUTION) HR 4806: Introduced 7/29 by Cohen (R-TN) and 10 bipartisan co-sponsors, “To counter efforts by foreign governments to pursue, harass, or otherwise persecute individuals for political and other unlawful motives overseas.” Referred to the Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary.
(FOREIGN INFLUENCE IN US ELEX) HR 4847: Introduced 7/29 by Porter (D-CA), the “Foreign Political Influence Elimination Act of 2021“, aka, “To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to treat certain foreign-owned corporations and business organizations as foreign nationals for purposes of the ban on campaign activity, to prohibit foreign-affiliated section 501(c)(4) organizations from making contributions to super PACs or disbursing funds for independent expenditures or electioneering communications, to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 to reform the procedures for the registration of agents of foreign principals under such Act, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on House Administration. Porter press release – which mentions UAE, Russia, China, Iran – is here.
(CONDEMNING HONOR KILLING IN IRAN) H. Res. 497: Introduced 6/24 by Cicilline (D-RI), “Condemning the murder of Alireza Fazeli Monfared and the practice of so-called “honor killings” in Iran, and for other purposes.” Marked up 7/29 and ordered to be reported out of Committee.
(EUROPE AND HEZBOLLAH) Rosen-Blackburn letter to Slovenian PM: On 7/29, Senators Rosen (D-NV) and Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter to Slovenian Prime Minister Jansa applauding Slovenia’s designation of Hezbollah’s military and political wings as a terrorist organization in December and praising its leadership on the issue. The letter concludes: “With Slovenia’s assumption of the presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, we urge you to continue your sound leadership on this matter, and place countering Hezbollah terrorism onto your agenda for Brussels…”
(BLOCK IRANIAN OFFICIALS COMING TO UNGA) Cotton et al letter to Biden: On 7/27, Sen. Cotton (R-AR) and 5 other Republican senators sent a letter to President Biden to deny visas to senior Iranian officials (including the new Iranian president) to come to the US for the United Nations General Assembly. Denying such visas would be a clear violation of the Agreement Between the United Nations and the United States Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, Signed June 26, 1947, and Approved by the General Assembly October 31, 1947, aka, the Headquarters Agreement; but that doesn’t mean presidents haven’t done this kind of thing before. Press releases: Cotton, Rubio (R-FL)
(EXTRA $1 BILLION FOR ISRAEL FOR IRON DOME) Rubio et al letter to Approps leaders: On 7/28 Rubio (R-FL) and 6 bipartisan colleagues sent a letter to Appropriations Committee Chair Leahy (D-VT) and ranking member Shelby (R-AL), “urging them to support Israel’s emergency request of ‘$1 billion in security assistance in order to replenish and prepare its Iron Dome missile defense system for a future conflict.’” Rubio press release is here.
(DEAR UNILEVER: SUPPORTING ISRAEL = SUPPORTING SETTLEMENTS) Gottheimer letter to Unilever CEO: On 7/25, Rep. Gottheimer (D-NJ) sent a letter to the CEO of Unilever expressing his “deep disappointment with Ben & Jerry’s recent decision to not do business in the West Bank, and therefore end its current relationship with its licensee which manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region.” His letter notes his hope “that Ben & Jerry’s, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, will reconsider this wrong and misguided decision to fuel efforts to single-out and undermine Israel, and will promptly reverse course,” that Unilever understands “the harmful consequences of such a misguided, disappointing decision” and that Unilever will “reverse course by continuing to do business without yielding to anti-Israel political pressure.”
2. FY22 SFOPS on the House Floor
On July 28th the House took up HR 4373, the FY22 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. For details of Middle East/Israel-related elements in the bill, as it was brought to the floor, see the July 2, 2021 edition of the Round-up.
- Bringing HR 4373 to the floor: debate on H. Res. 567 – providing for floor consideration of HR 4373 – is here.
- Floor debate on HR 4373: Statements/floor debate on HR 4373 and amendments is here and here.
- Motion to Recommit: Notably, Gonzalez (R-TX) offered (yet another) Israel-related Motion to Recommit (a grandstanding ploy that, if successful, would have derailed the entire bill but the clear purpose of the MTR is for it to be rejected, so the author can complain that Democrats are anti-Israel) seeking to send HR 4373 back to committee, in the name of adding to the bill $1 billion in additional funding for Israel for Iron Dome (to a bill that already includes more than $3 billion for Israel). That MTR was rejected on a party-line vote, and immediately a communications staffer for McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted: “House Democrats just voted to BLOCK additional funding to support Israel’s Iron Dome defense system WATCH @RepTonyGonzales explain why it is critical America continues to #StandWithIsrael.”
- Passage: The bill ultimately passed, with amendments, late on 7/28 by a vote of 217-212. All Republicans voted “no.” All Democrats voted “yes” except for Bush (D-MO), Tlaib (D-MI), and Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
- Amendments: On July 20, the House Rules Committee invited members to submit amendments to HR 4373. See all amendments submitted here; see Rules Committee debate on the amendments here. Many amendments related to the Middle East/Israel were submitted; only a small number were made In Order and received a vote on the House floor (all of which boiled down to adding statements of support/concern on various matters, as opposed to actually changing the legislation in any way). See below for details of all Middle East/Israel-related amendments to HR 4373 submitted to the Rules Committee
- Accountability: The House-adopted bill text includes a new provision that I did not cover in my earlier analysis of the bill, but which has now surfaced in the discussion around the final text. This provision states:
“(A) Prior to the signing of a new Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) involving funds appropriated under the heading ‘Foreign Military Financing Program’, the Secretary of State shall consult with each recipient government to ensure that the LOA between the United States and such recipient government complies with purposes of section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2754) and that the defense articles, services, and training procured with funds appropriated under such heading are consistent with United States national security policy. (B) The Secretary of State shall promptly inform the appropriate congressional committees of any instance in which the Secretary of State has credible information that such assistance was used in a manner contrary to such agreement.”
Reporting about the bill suggests that this provision is aimed at Israel (see Jewish Insider: New oversight provision passes House alongside $3.3 billion in aid to Israel). Assuming this is indeed the case, there are two different ways (both valid, but contradictory) to view the provision.
- Negative: It won’t lead to more oversight of aid to Israel and bolsters Israel’s sense of impunity. The provision doesn’t change what was already the law (so it isn’t truly a new requirement); it is highly improbable that a Secretary of State would ever make the (entirely subjective) determination under this provision that would result in reporting to Congress; and it is virtually inconceivable (for now) that the provision would negatively impact funding to Israel or funding for any other country that an Administration is determined to fund. Moreover, Israel knows all of this, and may see this as just Congress allowing its progressives to let off steam with empty words, while the real business of ensuring Israel’s unconditioned, unrestricted, and for all intents and purposes un-overseen aid continues as usual.
- Positive: It sends a meaningful message to Israel that, as part of SFOPS, was inconceivable in the past. The mere fact that leadership allowed this language to be included, and that members voted for it, sends a message to Israel of growing congressional concern/discontent over Israeli policies and of increasing readiness in Congress to at least permit a conversation/thinking about a link between US aid and Israeli policies. This is true regardless of whether the language makes it into the Senate version of the bill or the final law. From this perspective, the passage of this provision by the House is not insignificant, especially when coupled with language included in the Report accompanying the bill (covered in the July 2 Round-Up) stating, “the Committee urges the Secretary of State to address in bilateral consultations with Israel the importance of ensuring that MOU-supported equipment is not used in any way that undermines the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.” It is also notable that this language is accompanied by the adoption of the Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) amendment (discussed below), which makes a clear call for stronger oversight of US arms sales and linking them to human rights (the amendment mentions Saudi Arabia by name as an example, but applies to arms sales in general).
Amendments Made In Order (and their fate):
- (LOWEY FUND) Amdt. 36 (#2 in H. Rept. 117-110): Offered by Bowman (D-NY and two Democratic cosponsors, “Increases and decreases funding by $1 million for the Economic Support Fund, which funds the Nita M. Lowey Partnership for Peace Act, to express support for diplomatic efforts.” ADOPTED [this is in effect a statement of support, not a change in funding, which wouldn’t be possible on the floor without an offset]
- (YEMEN) Amdt. 92 (#5 in H. Rept. 117-110): Offered by Dingell (D-MI), “Increases and decreases funds in the Department of State Administrative Account by $1,000,000 to highlight opposition to U.S. political or diplomatic support for the Saudi blockade of Yemen.” ADOPTED [this is in effect a political statement regarding KSA and Yemen, not a change in funding, which wouldn’t be possible on the floor without an offset; Dingell (D-MI) tweeted: “The Saudi blockade has worsened a humanitarian crisis in Yemen that has left hundreds of thousands of children starving. It’s time for the blockade to end – period.” – with clip of her speech on the House floor.
- (ARMS SALES) Amdt. 84 (#25 in H. Rept. 117-110): Offered by Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), “Increases and decreases funds in the Department of State Administrative Account by $1,000,000 to highlight the need for stronger congressional oversight, robust human rights measures, and transparency in U.S. arms sales to countries such as Saudi Arabia.” ADOPTED [this is in effect a political statement regarding oversight of arms sales – including but not limited to Saudi Arabia (which in principle means Israel, too) — not a change in funding, which wouldn’t be possible on the floor without an offset]
- (CYBER/PRIORITIZE HUMAN RIGHTS) Amdt 73 (#31 in H. Rept. 117-110): Offered by Sherrill (D-NJ), “Increases and decreases the Diplomatic Programs account by $10 million to emphasize the need for State department to support efforts to establish clear international norms on state-sponsored, criminal, and commercial cyber activities that prioritize human rights, individual privacy, and consumer protections.” ADOPTED [this is in effect a statement of support for this kind of oversight, not a change in funding, which wouldn’t be possible on the floor without an offset]
Amendments NOT Made In Order [BUT still offering invaluable insight into what to expect from Members of Congress in the future]
- (EGYPT) Amdt. 7: Offered by Omar (D-MN), “Puts human rights, rule of law, and democracy conditions on all FMF funds for Egypt.”
- (JERUSALEM) Amdt 12: Offered by Stefanik (R-NY) and 8 Republican cosponsors, “Prohibits funds for establishing or operating a diplomatic consulate or consulate general in any city with an existing United States Embassy.”
- (UNRWA) Amdt. 19: Offered by Burchett (R-TN), “Prohibits funds from going to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency unless the Secretary of State determines and reports that none of UNRWA’s employees are members of a foreign terrorist organization.”
- (UNHRC) Amdt. 20: Offered by Burchett (R-TN), “Prohibits funds from being used to reenter the United Nations Human Rights Council until the membership of the Council is increased to all 193 UN member states.”
- (NO FUNDS TO APARTHEID) Amdt. 37: Offered by Tlaib (D-MI), “Prohibits any funds appropriated in this act from being made available to any third country, entity or individual found by a vote of the UN General Assembly to be committing the crime against humanity of apartheid.”
- (SURVEILLANCE) Amdt. 38: Offered by Tlaib (D-MI), “Prohibits funds from this act from being made available to to any third country, entity, or individual found to have installed or aided and abetted in the installation of electronic spyware and/or surveillance technology targeting any employee of the United States government.”
- (NO GOING BACK ON ISRAEL MOU) Amdt. 48: Offered by Foxx (R-NC), “Reinforces the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security by protecting the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding signed on September 14, 2016.”
- (NO $$ to PA for Terrorists) Amdt. 51: Offered by Budd (R-NC) and Zeldin (R-NY), “Prevents funds from being used to pay compensation to Palestinians killed in connection with conspiring to commit an act of domestic or international terrorism or commissioning an act of domestic or international terrorism.”
- (BDS SCREEN FOR US FUNDING TO NGOS) Amdt. 63: Offered by Zeldin (R-NY) and two Republican cosponsors, “Provides that none of the funds may be available to NGOs that participate in the BDS campaign against Israel.”
- (FUND US-ISRAEL POLICE TRAINING) Amdt. 69: Offered by Keller (R-PA), “Directs the Department of State to support bilateral training between United States and Israeli law enforcement personnel.”
- (JERUSALEM) Amdt. 79: Offered by Barr (R-AZ) and Zeldin (R-NY), “Prevents any funding in this bill being used to move the United States’ embassy in Israel to a location other than Jerusalem.”
- (JCPOA) Amdt. 83: Offered by Barr (R-KY), “Prevents any funding in this Act from being used to rejoin the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) unless the President submits in writing to the House of Representatives and the Senate his commitment to submitting any successor agreement to the Senate for advise and consent as a treaty rather than as an international agreement.”
- (EGYPT) Amdt. 95: Offered by Malinowski (D-NJ) and 5 Democratic cosponsors, “Transfers $1.3B from Egypt Foreign Military Financing to the following accounts: $50M for Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act in Israel /Palestine; $150M for scholarships & educational funding across the Middle East; $150M to support elections and stabilization activities in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia; $250M for emergency humanitarian assistance to Yemeni people; $200M for economic development programs in Tunisia and Jordan; $100M for health programs and vaccinations serving Syrian refugees; $50M to fund Egyptian military contributions to international peacekeeping; $20M for DOS-administered training and monitoring on human rights in detention and torture in the Middle East; $20M to fund OTF counter-surveillance programs for citizens in the Middle East under persistent invasive spyware threats; $100M for emergency economic support to Lebanese people; $50M for NED’s democracy promotion and electoral training programming in the Middle East; $100M to support economic development programs in Iraq; $60M to fund DOS security forces professionalization programs in the Middle East and to strengthen end-use monitoring of US weapons sales in the Middle East.” [NOTE: Malinowski made clear in the Rules committee debate that he had no expectation of this passing but wanted to underscore all that the US could do just in the Middle East with the $1.3 billion that goes to Egypt – watch starting at 3:42:44 in the video].
- (YEMEN) Amdt. 96: Offered by Dingell (D-MI), “States that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to provide logistical support, supplies and services for the air force or navy of any country that restricts imports or travel at Yemen’s air or sea ports.”
- (EGYPT) Amdt. 104: Offered by Malinowsk (D-NJ) and 7 Democratic cosponsors, “Transfers $25M from Egypt Foreign Military Financing weapons assistance to scholarship funding for Egyptians under the Education and Cultural Exchange account.”
- (UN/PALESTINE) Amdt. 109: Offered by Foxx (R-NC), “Prohibits United States Government officials from serving on any United Nations agencies or affiliates that have granted full membership as a state to any organization that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”
- (EGYPT) Amdt. 112: Offered by Malinowski (D-NJ), “Transfers $10M from Egypt FMF account to the Democracy Fund account to support the US-Egypt human rights dialogue and to fund strengthened human rights vetting and monitoring of US security assistance for Egypt.”
- (APARTHEID) Amdt. 129: Offered by Perry (R-PA), “States that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be made available to any country the government of which has labeled Israel as an apartheid state.”
- (UNRWA) Amdt. 136: Offered by Perry (R-PA), “States that none of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.”
- (UNHRC) Amdt. 137: Offered by Perry (R-PA), “States that none of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the United Nations Human Rights Council.”
Members on the Record re: SFOPS
- Lots of members spoke on the floor in support of aid to Israel (with clips helpfully disseminated on Twitter by AIPAC), some also mentioning support for the two-state solution or issued statements about the bill citing support for Israel, including: Rogers (R-KY), Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Pelosi (D-CA), Frankel (D-FL) [full statement], Lee (D-CA) [full statement], Frankel (D-FL), Rice (D-NY), Rice (D-NY)
- Rogers (R-KY) (also here) and Reschenthaler (R-PA) spoke positively about funding for Israel but objected to non-waivable conditions on part of Egypt’s aid
- US Jewish groups hail House bill giving aid to Israel, Palestinians (Times of Israel)
- US House approves bill anchoring defense aid to Israel (Israel Hayom)
August 3: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, Authorizations of Use of Force: Administration Perspectives. Scheduled witnesses are Department of State Acting Legal Advisor Richard Visek and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. The following day, the Committee will hold a business meeting to consider S. J. Res. 10, to repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq (and other pending calendar business).
August 3 (MANEL): The Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing entitled, Domestic Terrorism and Violent Extremism: Examining the Threat of Racially, Ethnically, Religiously, and Politically Motivated Attacks, Part I. Scheduled witnesses are: Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Eric Fingerhut, The Jewish Federations of North America; John Yang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Paul Goldenberg, Cardinal Point Strategies; and Seth G. Jones, PH.D., CSIS. On August 5 the Committee will hold Part 2 of this hearing – witnesses have not yet been announced.
July 29: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism held a hearing entitled, Lebanon: Assessing Political Paralysis, Economic Crisis and Challenges for U.S. Policy. Witnesses were: Mona Yacoubian, United States Institute of Peace (statement); Randa Slim, Middle East Institute (statement); and David Schenker, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (statement). Video is here. Also see: Congress sounds alarm bells on Lebanon (Jewish Insider)
Members on the Record
Re: Siding with Greater Israel/settlements over US company/Free Speech
Gimenez (R-FL) 7/29: Tweet – “Anti-Semitism has no place in America. I’m proud to stand with the people of #Israel. As they say… go woke, go broke. Say no to #BDS.” With pic of Gimenez holding a Ben & Jerry’s sign with a red X across the company’s name.
Malliotakis (R-NY) 7/26: Tweet – “Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., pointed to the increase of anti-Semitic incidents in New York, telling the newspaper that ‘it’s critically important for the state to reinforce its position and show support for members of our Jewish community.’” Linked to article, Cuomo, who once said New York will boycott those who boycott Israel, called out for silence on Ben & Jerry’s (Fox News)
Zeldin (R-NY) 7/25: Tweet – “The antisemitic BDS movement is now trying to block the legal flow of commerce from Israel into the United States. Local officials need to show a back bone and crack down on this criminality wherever it emerges across the US!” Linked to article, BDS: New York, New Jersey activists attempt block Israeli cargo ship (Jerusalem Post)
Scott (R-SC) 7/24: Tweet – “Bigoted moves by @BenandJerrys is what’s wrong with the progressive left. Anti-Israel boycotts of businesses harm both Israelis and Palestinians in the region. (1/2)” and “Not to mention that turning our backs on Israel could have wide-reaching effects on businesses around the globe, including SC. This kind of cancel culture has got to end. We must stand firmly opposed to any attempt to encourage the growth of anti-Israeli BDS laws. (2/2)”
Rubio (R-FL) 7/23: Tweet – “Senator Rubio commends @GovRonDeSantis for standing up to @benandjerrys ’ anti-Israel boycott. It’s time to pass the bipartisan Rubio-Manchin #CombatingBDSAct, which will protect the rights of states to combat the discriminatory #BDS movement.” Linked to Newseek tweet/link – Texas’ comptroller encouraged people to buy Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream rather than “overpriced, stuck-up stuff made by a foreign-owned company started in Vermont.”
Lankford (R-OK) 7/23: Tweet – “Nope, fake news—I never walked back anything. I stand by that Oklahoma should enforce our BDS laws to stop any state contract that sells Ben & Jerrys. #standwithIsrael.” Linked to article, Lankford Walks Back Call For Statewide Ban On Sale Of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (Public Radio Tulsa) [Lankford seems to be using “Fake News” to refer to things he wishes he didn’t say – or perhaps he has a memory deficit and has forgotten that less than 2 days prior to his “fake news” tweet, he did, in fact, tweet out call for a statewide ban on the sale of Ben and Jerry’s]
Re: Israel, Israeli Policies Targeting Palestinian Rights, Antisemitism
Zeldin (R-NY) 7/29: Rep. Zeldin Calls for Firing of CUNY Professor for Antisemitism and Promoting Violence Against Israel
McCollum (D-MN) 7/29: Tweet – “I condemn the IDF’s attack on the office of Defense for Children International-Palestine. The assault on a human rights organization that protects Palestinian children is another instance of the repressive conditions under Israel’s military occupation.” Linked to DCI-P statement, Israeli forces raid DCIP office, confiscate computers and client files
Tlaib (D-MI) 7/29: Tweet – “More than ever we must pass @BettyMcCollum04’s #HR2590 and stop this madness. U.S. is funding the detention of children. It’s sickening.” Linked to tweet from DCI-P – “BREAKING: Israeli forces raided our main office in Al-Bireh today around 5 a.m., confiscating computers, laptops, and files concerning our Palestinian child detainee clients in the Israeli military courts. We were not informed of the reason for the raid.”
Various 7/29: @CombatAntisemitism held an international forum conflating criticism/activism challenging Israel with antisemitism and promoting the IHRA definition of antisemitism. See thread of video clips featuring: Lankford (R-OK), Rosen (D-NV), Deutch (D-FL), Zeldin (R-NY),
Paul (R-KY) 7/28: Press release – Dr. Rand Paul Speaks on Foreign Spending, and the Need to Prioritize America – “Today, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke on the need to decrease foreign spending and put America first. Following his remarks and in continuation of his efforts, Dr. Paul introduced an amendment that would have instituted an across the board cut in foreign assistance (with an exemption for aid to Israel) by 10 percent beginning in FY21 and in each succeeding Fiscal Year.” [An amendment to S. 2297 – International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID–19 Response Act of 2021]
Pocan (D-WI) 7/28: Tweet – “So, @DemMaj4Israel, it appears a lot of your donors are Republicans. Not exactly a “Dem Majority”. Enabling GOP to give money obscured by a PAC is a dark way to advance a Conservative Majority. Time to rename? @ninaturner @ryangrim”. Linked to article, In the Race Against Nina Turner, GOP Donors Fund Shontel Brown (The Intercept)
Rosen (D-NV) 7/27: Tweet – “I spoke with my friend Israeli Foreign Minister @yairlapid to congratulate him on the formation of the broadest & most diverse coalition in Israel’s history, and discuss ways to deepen bilateral relations and fulfill our shared mission to fight back against antisemitism globally.” (press release)
Chu (D-CA) 7/27: Tweet – “Incredible news for these families. But we cannot stop speaking out until the forced evacuations are ended and negotiations for a two-state solution that lets both Israelis and Palestinians live in peace and security begin.” Linked to article, Bennett won’t order Arab eviction from Sheikh Jarrah – gov’t source (Jerusalem Post) [that report was later clarified by other outlets – Bennett is considering postponing the order, not canceling it]
Young (R-IN) 7/27: Tweet – “Congratulations to Israel and Morocco. I hope normalization of relations with Israel will continue to transform the region. Shared economic activity and deeper understanding will result in peace and prosperity for both.” Linked to tweet from State Dept, “We are excited to see the inaugural El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Marrakesh today. Another important development stemming from improved relations between our partners and friends in Israel and Morocco”
Bowman (D-NY) 7/26: “We cannot sustain the safety & security of Israel while continuing to oppress the Palestinian people. That cannot happen.” – interview with Mehdi Hassan
McCollum (D-MN) 7/25: Tweet – “Thank you to my friend & colleague @chelliepingree for signing on to #HR2590 in support of Palestinian families. No U.S. aid should be spent on detaining children in military facilities or tearing down families’ homes. #HumanRightsChampion”
Deutch (D-FL) 7/23: Tweet – “Almost 50 years ago at 1972 #Olympics, terrorists kidnapped & murdered 11 Israeli athletes & coaches. The @Tokyo2020 opening ceremony held a moment of silence to remember the victims. This was an appropriate, historic & overdue moment to reflect on that horrific Olympic tragedy.”
Inhofe (R-OK) 7/23: Tweet – “Great news! Israel has long been an active and valuable partner to many African nations, and I’m glad to know that after two decades, Israel will once again join the African Union as an observer state. Read more here:” Linked to article, Israel to join African Union as observer after being kept out for 2 decades (Times of Israel) [“Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu prioritized Israel’s relations with Africa during the latter half of his 12 years in office, including with several Muslim-majority countries on the continent. Besides seeking new markets for Israeli agriculture, high-tech and security know-how, the former prime minister was eager to improve African nations’ voting record on Israel-related matters in international forums such as the United Nations Security Council and UNESCO.”]
Re: Concern about Israeli surveillance companies
Malinowski (D-NJ), Porter (D-CA), Castro (D-TX), and Eshoo (D-CA) 7/26: Enough is Enough – Joint Statement on the Abuses Linked to the NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware
Malinowski (D-NJ) 7/26: Tweet – “Revelations regarding NSO Group’s software reinforce our conviction that the hack for hire industry must be controlled. Private companies shouldn’t be selling cyber-intrusion tools on the open market & the US should work with allies to regulate this trade.” Linked to article, Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide (Washington Post)
Gonzalez (R-OH) 7/29: Tweet – “Iran’s rapidly evolving ability to carry out precision strikes is cause for great concern to the U.S., our allies, and the overall international system. We must continue to pressure the Iranian regime until they cease their escalation of aggressive behavior.” Linked to article, US planning to target Iran drone, guided missile programs with sanctions: report (The Hill)
Jackson (R-TX) 7/29: Tweet – “ICYMI: Democrats back Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. I introduced an amendment that would’ve made sure Biden couldn’t work with a regime that’s planning attacks on American soil and developing nuclear weapons, but Democrats voted it down. I wonder why?”
Murphy (D-CT) 7/28: press release – Murphy Statement on Protests in Iran
Cohen (D-TN) 7/28: Tweet – “The Iranian people are protesting on the streets and demanding change from #EbrahimRaisi. We stand in solidarity with the peaceful protests. The Iranian people deserve better!”
Blumenthal (D-CT) 7/27: Tweet – “Semantics aside, Iraq still needs US support to counter our common enemy: Iran & its proxies. We must not be complacent. More work remains to train & assist our Iraqi partners to counter terrorism in the region.” Linked to article, US concludes combat mission in Iraq as Biden meets with Iraqi prime minister (ABC News)
Bacon (R-NE) 7/27: Tweet – “One thing we can all agree on is that NO country should be selling weapons to Iran, who is STILL the #1 exporter of terrorism. I introduced H.R. 857 to restore these sanctions and limit Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East.”
Cheney (R-WY) 7/26: Tweet – “We were right to withdraw from the disastrous Iran Deal and turn to a policy of maximum pressure with sanctions against the regime. Efforts by the Biden Admin to re-enter this deal would be a mistake and put the Iranians on a pathway to a nuclear weapon.” Linked to article, Iran’s Latest Nuclear Demand (Wall Street Journal)
Tenney (R-NY) 7/26: Tweet – “The #UN Security Council lacks the courage to hold Iran accountable. Last year it let the 10+ year-old arms embargo expire. Giving the UN even more power would be a grave mistake. Any deal w/ #Iran must be submitted to the Senate for / as a treaty.”
Grassley (R-IA) 7/25: Tweet – “Does Biden want an Iranian agreement so bad that he can’t condemn Iran when they attempt to kidnap a UScitizen MsAlinejad who is fighting human rights in Iran. We must standup for the human rights we espouse”
Long (R-MO) 7/23: Tweet – “The Iran Nuclear Deal was a signature of President Obama’s foreign policy and was also a colossal mistake that should never be revisited. Unfortunately, President Biden is doing just that. Read more in this week’s Long’s Short Report.”
Good (R-VA) 7/23: Tweet – “Innocent people in Iran are suffering at the hands of an oppressive dictatorship. I stand in solidarity with the Iranian people and their cries for freedom against the regime and its destructive policies. #IranProtests”
Bass (D-CA) 7/28: Rep. Bass Statement on the Dismissal of the Government in Tunisia
Schweikert (R-AZ) 7/28: Tweet – “As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Tunisia Caucus, I am closely following the events that are unfolding. I urge all parties involved to work together for a peaceful resolution that respects democratic principles. The whole world hopes to see Tunisia’s democracy succeed.”
McCaul (R-TX) 7/27: McCaul Statement on Events in Tunisia
Omar (D-MN) 7/27: Tweets – “If we believe in democracy and human rights, we should be loudly decrying the current assault on democracy in Tunisia—the heart of the Arab Spring. If Tunisia’s president does not reverse course, we should suspend all security aid, as is required by law.” and “I will be introducing a bill today to make it illegal for the U.S. to continue to arm human rights abusers.”
Meeks (D-NY) & Deutch (D-FL) 7/26: Meeks, Deutch Issue Statement on Developments in Tunisia
Murphy (D-CT) 7/26: Murphy Statement on Political Turmoil and Violence in Tunisia
Menendez (D-NJ) 7/26: Tweet – “I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Tunisia. Sincerely hope Tunisia’s nascent and inspiring democratic spirit prevails and no actors resort to violence. Peace must prevail.”
Tlaib (D-MI) 7/26: Tweet – “Tunisia’s democracy is at risk.The US position must be clear: Tunisia’s Parliament must be allowed to resume its duties immediately. All actors must follow the Tunisian Constitution and work to preserve the democracy so many sacrificed so much to achieve.”
Re: EgyptLieu (D-CA) 7/29: Tweet – “We stand with the #UNHungerStrike and call on Egypt to cease mass trials and release all political prisoners.” Linked to tweet.
Murphy (D-CT) 7/28: Press release – Murphy Calls on the Biden Administration to Withhold Aid to Egypt Based on Human Rights Violations [statement in Congressional Record]
Murphy (D-CT) 7/28: Tweet – “I’m heading to the Senate floor right now to talk about why the Biden Admin should not waive human rights conditions on security funding to Egypt. America cannot lead on global human rights if we continue to fund repressive autocrats.”
Murphy (D-CT) 7/27: Murphy Statement on U.S.-Iraq Agreement to Drawdown U.S. Combat Mission in Iraq
Murphy (D-CT) 7/27: Readout of Murphy Meeting with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Al-Thani and Connecticut Business Leaders in Hartford
Media & Other Reports
Ohio Special Election
The Forward 7/29: In close Ohio special election, Jewish vote could determine outcome
Jewish News Syndicate 7/29: Ohio special election has become latest battleground in Democratic Party’s clash over Israel
Jewish Insider 7/28: An early test of Trump’s clout in Ohio special election [“‘Critical race theory being taught in our schools is a big issue, and certainly, I think, this whole cancel culture that you’re seeing just across the country,’ said Carey. ‘The whole decision by Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank — that is just insane. This anti-Israel decision just sets a very dangerous standard,’ he added. ‘I want to make sure that nobody eats Ben & Jerry’s ice cream anywhere near me.’” See article for more views on Israel from both candidates.]
Jewish Democratic Council of America 7/26: Jewish Dems Expand Ad Campaign Targeting Jewish Voters in OH-11 Special Election
Jewish Insider 7/26: Jim Clyburn heads to Cleveland [“The South Carolina congressman, 81, endorsed Brown in late June, upping the ante of an election that is largely split along generational as well as ideological lines. Brown had been trailing Turner before Clyburn backed her. ‘When I first got the frantic call, they told me she was polling at about 15, 20%,’ the South Carolina congressman said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Friday. ‘If it means anything,” he recalled concluding, “it means I need to up my involvement, and so I think that’s why I did.’”]
Jerusalem Post 7/30: Ted Cruz blocks bill advancing Israel-Arab normalization
Jewish Insider 7/29: Malinowski says U.S., Israel, other democracies should work to restrict technologies like NSO’s Pegasus
Just Security 7/28: Congress, Stop Trying to Sabotage Diplomacy with Iran
Jerusalem Post 7/28: Senate, House GOP introduce UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act
Haaretz 7/27: U.S. Lawmakers Call for Punitive Measures Against Israeli NSO Over Spyware Allegations
Middle East Monitor 7/26: Tlaib slams tax status of entities supporting illegal settlements
Free Beacon 7/26: Cruz Blocks Israel Bill Over Watered-Down Support for Jewish State [to strip out support for language re 2-state solution that was US policy starting from 2002, when the words were spoken by George W. Bush until Trump]
Washington Post 7/26: 4 Democrats suggest blacklisting Israeli spyware firm over hacks of journalists, activists
Jewish Insider 7/26: Jordan’s relations with Israel have improved under Bennett, King Abdullah told Congress
Haaretz 7/26: With Israeli-Palestinian Peace Fund, Congress Signals U.S. Hasn’t Given Up Yet
Haaretz 7/23: U.S. Lawmakers Demand Action After Spyware Allegations Against Israeli NSO
Middle East Eye 7/23: End tax-exempt status for groups supporting Israeli settlements, Democrats demand