Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived.
NOTE: Once again this week, given the scope and pace of current events — the absolute horror show of Hamas’s attack on Israel and the Israel reaction, and given the for the most part morally reprehensible responses from members of Congress in terms of a non-stop stream of dehumanization of Palestinian civilians and support/celebration of military action targeting them, there is no “On the Record” section this week, and only an abbreviated Media section. Check members accounts on X or their websites for yourself if you want to see what they are saying. In general, if they are Democrats the message remains: total support for/solidarity with Israel in its campaign and still very little (a bit more than in past weeks, so I guess that’s something) concern for Palestinian civilians or what Israel is doing to them. From Republicans, it is largely the same, plus an almost universal narrative connecting the Hamas attack to Iran and implicitly or explicitly making the case for war against (and regime change in) Iran (and some Democrats are on these same talking points). Plus this week we have the continued demonization – from both sides of the aisle – of Jewish Americans and members of Congress who dare to call for a ceasefire or to defend Palestinian rights, and further escalation of attacks on free speech critical of Israel or defending Palestinians/Palestinian rights, especially on campuses. It remains just too much and too soul-crushing to follow, let alone to try to document, comprehensively while also following the actual horror-show of genocide unfolding on the ground.
New from FMEP:
- Upcoming FMEP webinar series: Catastrophe in Gaza: What’s Next? — a 2-part series. Part 1: Monday, October 30th, 2023, 1:00pm ET, ft. Inès Abdel Razek (Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy), Fadi Quran (Avaaz), & Lara Friedman (FMEP); RSVP for PART 1 HERE; Part 2: Wednesday, November 1st, 2023 12:00pm ET, ft. Sari Bashi (Human Rights Watch), Amjad Iraqi (+972 Magazine), & Lara Friedman (FMEP); RSVP for PART 2 HERE
NOTE: This week the House finally elected a new Speaker – Rep. Johnon (R-LA). The first thing that Speaker did when regular business was re-started was…have the pass House H. Res. 771, a resolution expressing support for Israel, support for Israel unlimited retaliation against all Palestinians in Gaza, etc. See below for details. In addition, Speaker Johnson has also said that the first piece of binding legislation he will bring to the floor will be…legislation to provide emergency funding for Israel (responding to the Biden Administration request to Congress for this funding). This opens what is already shaping up to be some serious drama in Congress:
- The Biden Administration and some Democrats wanting to combine emergency aid for Israel (which has nearly wall-to-wall bipartisan support) with emergency aid for Ukraine (which Republicans want to block). Republicans are alreadying making the case — with letters, legislation, and media statements — that by trying to combine aid for Israel and Ukraine, Biden is cynically exploiting the crisis facing Israel, and in so doing is threatening Israel’s best interests. As of this writing it is not at all clear how this will play out in the political game of chicken, where each side will have to calculate who will get blamed if funding for Israel gets held up. [see letters & legislation below and in last week’s Round-Up]
- In addition, Leader Johnson has also stated that the more than $14 billion in emergency funding for Israel requesed by Biden, which Republicans absolutely support, will have to be paid for by cuts from other regular funding bills. This, to be clear, is NOT how emergency funding normally works (regardless of which party is in the White House or in control of Congress). Normally, there is the budget – and funding bills have to fit in that budget – and there are emergency expenses, like war, which are funded outside of that budget, since they are…emergencies that were not budgeted for in the original budget. What that means here is: while there is wall-to-wall support in Congress for more than $14 BILLION in emergency aid to Israel, that aid will likely be harder to sell to their constituents if/when they understand that it will be paid for, dollar for dollar, from the increasingly small budgets that Congress permits to support services and resources for American taxpayers.
- Also, for some context on where Speaker Johnson stands on Israel-related matters, see: Haaretz 10/25/23: New House Speaker Mike Johnson, an Evangelical Christian, Holds Ties to Israel’s Far Right [“...Louisiana Rep. Johnson traveled to Israel in February 2020 with an under-the-radar group called the 12Tribe Films Foundation. The organization’s CEO is a social media activist named Avi Abelow, who emigrated from New York more than 30 years ago at age 18 and lives in the West Bank settlement of Efrat…Johnson’s first stop on his Abelow-organized visit was to the Kohelet Policy Forum – the conservative think tank that has been an essential partner to the government’s efforts to weaken the judiciary. The fourth-term congressman also visited the Temple Mount compound alongside Yehudah Glick, a former Likud lawmaker who has led the fight to change the status quo and permit Jewish prayer at the flash point Jerusalem holy site – in opposition to both official Israeli government policy as well as that of the international community, particularly the Biden administration and Jordan…“]
- Finally, it is worth noting that Biden’s emergency funding request includes (per its own explicit introduction/explanation) funding for programs to support Palestinians who in the near future might discover that they no longer live in Gaza – but hey, probably nothing to worry about, right?
Targeting Free Speech/Protest Related to Israel
- (USING CLAIMS OF ANTISEMITISM TO QUASH CAMPUS FREE SPEECH/ACTIVISM CRITICAL OF ISRAEL) HR 6090 & S. 3141: Introduced 10/26/23 in the House by Lawler (R-NY) and 10 cosponsors (bipartisan), and in the Senate by Scott (R-SC) and 5 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To provide for the consideration of a definition of antisemitism set forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. For background on this legislation (which has been introduced numerous times and which has nothing to do with fighting antisemitism, and everything to do with delegitimizing and suppressing campus free speech/activism critical of Israel, see this compendium of resources; for a deep dive into the history/objectives of this legislation, see this article by FMEP’s Lara Friedman. Also see: press releases – REP. MIKE LAWLER INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN ANTISEMITISM AWARENESS ACT TO HELP WITH ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS; Senator Scott Champions Bill to Combat Antisemitism on College Campuses in Wake of Skyrocketing Incidents; White House, Dept. of Education face pressure to take action on campus antisemitism (Jewish Insider 10/26/23)
- (ATTACKING US SCHOOLS & STUDENTS FOR ENGAGING IN/ALLOWING PROTEST IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIANS IN GAZA; ACCUSING THEM OF ENDANGERING JEWISH STUDENTS & SUPPORTING/ENGAGING IN ANTISEMITISM) S. Res. 418: Introduced 10/19/23 by Hawley (R-MO) and 3 Republican cosponsors, “A resolution condemning Hamas and antisemitic student activities on college campuses in the United States.” Passed by the Senate 10/26/2023 by a Voice Vote. Floor grandstanding is here.
(ATTACKING US SCHOOLS & STUDENTS FOR ENGAGING IN/ALLOWING PROTEST
IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIANS IN GAZA; ACCUSING THEM OF ENDANGERING JEWISH STUDENTS & SUPPORTING/ENGAGING
IN ANTISEMITISM) S. Res. 437 (text): Introduced 10/26/23 by Blackburn (R-TN) and 3 cosponsors
(bipartisan, including Van Hollen, D-MD), “A resolution condemning
antisemitism at institutions of higher education in the United States and encouraging college and
university leaders, administrators, and faculty to speak out against antisemitism.”
Passed by the Senate 10/26/2023 by a Voice Vote.
Floor grandstanding is here. NOTE:
While this is a non-binding resolution, the content [the resolution includes,
“Whereas the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance has
developed a widely accepted working definition of antisemitism which can serve as a helpful tool for
education administrators and faculty to identify antisemitism“] and the timing suggest that it is intended to lay the groundwork for passage of
binding legislation, in the form of the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which perhaps not coincidentally was
re-introduced in the Senate the same day this resolution was introduced and passed. Also see
Blackburn press release, Blackburn Leads Resolution Condemning Antisemitism in Higher
- (CENSURE RASHIDA TLAIB) H. Res. 807 (text): Introduced 10/24/23 by Green (R-GA) and 5 Republican cosponsors, “Censuring Representative Rashida Tlaib for antisemitic activity, sympathizing with terrorist organizations, and leading an insurrection at the United States Capitol Complex.” Also see: Greene press release- Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene Introduces Censure Resolution Against Rashida Tlaib Following Insurrection
Erasing the distinction between punishing terrorists & punishing all Palestinians
(DEPORT PALESTINIANS FROM THE U-S-A!!!!) HR 6099: Introduced 10/26/23 by Ogles (R-TN) and Tiffany (R-WI),
“To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for the
expedited removal of aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States and are residents of
Palestinian-administered territories within Judea and Samaria or Gaza.“Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. NOTE: See below for
analysis of Ogles’s efforts to put a new linguistic formula into U.S. law to describe and govern U.S.
policy vis-a-vis the West Bank and Gaza. Notably, Ogles’s approach appears to be evolving in real time:
his 10/25/23 legislation referred to “Palestinian-controlled areas of
Judea and Samaria or Gaza,” while this bill, introduced a day later, downgrades the
Palestinian role to “Palestinian-administered territories within Judea
and Samaria or Gaza.”
- (BARRING US FUNDING TO “PALESTINIAN-CONTROLLED AREAS OF JUDEA, SAMARIA & GAZA, ENDORSING ONE-STATE SOLUTION) HR 6060: Introduced 10/25/23 by Ogles (R-TN) and 7 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To prohibit any United States assistance from being made available for programs, projects, or activities located in Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria or Gaza, and for other purposes” aka, the “Defunding Israel’s Enemies Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. As reported in the Daily Caller, “Republican Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles, alongside a coalition of GOP representatives, introduced a bill Wednesday that would keep U.S. funds from any Palestinian-controlled area of Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza, until Hamas agrees to forever cease its hostilities towards Israel.” NOTE: (1) this bill on effect seeks to legislate collective punishment against all Palestinians for the positions/actions of Hamas; (2) it introduces a new linguistic and legal formula to US policy, with the reference to “Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria or Gaza.” In addition to replacing the term “West Bank” with the settler/evangelical-preferred biblical term “Judea and Samaria,” this term suggests that the U.S. as a matter of policy distinguishes between areas of the West Bank over which Israel maintains full control (i.e., the 60% of the West Bank that is Area C) and the remaining 40% that is under varying degrees of control of the Palestinian Authority. (3) It appears to give a green-light for US assistance in Area C, and, potentially, any additional areas of the West Bank that Israel may re-assert total control over (or annex) or parts/all of Gaza if Israel re-asserts control over there in the future. Ogles to the Daily Caller: “It’s time for Congress to retake their pocketbook and stop any money that goes to a radicalized and evil nation. America must defend the Holy Land, and handing money to countries that intentionally wish death on God’s chosen people is dishonorable and despicable.” The Daily Caller also notes: “The bill recognizes that if Palestinian terrorists such as Hamas continue to fail to recognize Israel’s right to exist, then a one-state solution in support of the country may be the solution to the conflict.”
- (NO US $$ TO INTL ORGS THAT FUND TERROR) HR 6066 (text): Introduced 10/25/23 by Tenney (R-NY) and Bacon (R-NE), “To prohibit funding to international organizations that provide resources or other support to foreign terrorist organizations, and for other purposes,” aka the “‘Halting Appropriations for Terrorist-supporting Institutions that Knowingly provide Valued Assets to Hamas and Hezbollah Act.’’ This bill would require the Department of State to submit a far-reaching certification every 180 days “with respect to each international organization operating in Gaza or Judea and Samaria to which the United States Government provides funding,” certifying that the organizations, their employees, the operations, and any other aspect you can think of is in no way engaged in, related to, supportive of, or arguably breathing the same air as any FTO or anyone associated with a FTO. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: Congresswoman Tenney Introduces the HATIKVAHH Act to Prevent International Organizations from Funding Terrorist Organizations; Also see: one-pager explaining the bill [and which makes pretty clear that it is aimed first and foremost at UNRWA]. Also see: Congress Eyes Crackdown on US Funding for Iran-Backed Terror Orgs (Washington Free Beacon)
- NOT PREVIOUSLY REPORTED (GOING AFTER USE OF HUMAN SHIELDS) HR 5917: Introduced 10/10/23 by Gallagher (R-WI) and 15 bipartisan cosponsors, “To amend the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act to modify and extend that Act, and for other purposes.” Also see: Gallagher, Sherman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Counter Use of Human Shields; After Hamas Strike, Congress Wants to Sanction Terror Group’s Use of Human Shields. But Legislation Is On Ice Until New Speaker is Elected. (Washington Free Beacon 10/10/23)
Standing with Israel
- (STANDING WITH ISRAEL, BACKING ISRAELI RETRIBUTION, TARGETING ALL FUNDING FOR PALESTINIANS, TARGETING IRAN) H. Res. 771 (text): Introduced 10/11/23 by McCaul (R-TX) and now having 425 cosponsors, “Standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.” PASSED in the House 10/25/23 by a vote of 412-10, with 6 voting “present.” The “no” and “present” votes were: Bowman (D-NY), Bush (D-MO), Carson (D-IN), Green (D-TX), Lee (D-PA), Massie (R-KY), Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Omar (D-MN), Ramirez (D-IL) and Tlaib (D-MI). The “present” votes were: Casar (D-TX), Castro (D-TX), Garcia (D-IL), Jayapal (D-WA), Pressley (D-MA), and Velazquez (D-NY). See Section 4, below, for statements from members who voted not/present explaining their positions. Floor consideration is here.
- (EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR ISRAEL – AND *ONLY* ISRAEL) S. 3135 (text): Introduced 10/25/23 by Marshall (R-KS) and 3 Republican colleagues, “A bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for assistance for the situation in Israel for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024, and for other purposes,” aka, the “The Israel Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023.” Under the bill, the U.S would provide Israel (in addition to almost $4 billion in regular annual militar funding): $10.6 BILLION in aid via DOD, $3.5 BILLION in foreign military financing (i.e., money to buy weapons), and $8.225 BILLION in additional available resources via drawdown authorities — for a total of $22.325 BILLION in US funds/resources; in addition to (a paltry) $200 million for protection of U.S. diplomatic missions. NOTE: This bill embodies Republicans’ desire to support emergency aid, but not for any other Biden Admin priorities, most notably Ukraine. Their hope, clearly, is that they can block a broader bill and force Democrats and the Biden Administration to accept Israel-only emergency funding legislation, in part by suggesting that doing otherwise is anti-Israel [as Marshall notes in his press release – “My colleagues and I firmly believe that any aid to Israel should not be used as leverage to send tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine. Any package that does so would result in funds and resources being delayed in Israel’s time of need.”] This bill also states that none of the funding made available under this bill may be used “(1) in connection with the war in Ukraine; or (2) for assistance to any entity that is—(A) located in the territory of Gaza; or (B) is controlled or influenced by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or any other organization designated by the Secretary of State a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (820 U.S.C. 1189).” Also see: Senators Marshall, Vance, Lee, and Cruz Introduce Legislation To Give Immediate Assistance and Aid to Israel
- (*PROBABLY*EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR ISRAEL – AND *ONLY* ISRAEL) HR 6018: Introduced 10/20/23 by Tenney (R-NY), “Making supplemental appropriations, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Appropriations, and the Committee on the Budget. NOTE: Text for this bill is not yet in the Congressional Record, but on 10/25/23 Tenney published a press release – Congresswoman Tenney Proposes $14.056 Billion in Targeted Security Aid for Israel. Tenney notes: “President Biden recently proposed a $105 billion omnibus package of aid for Israel, Ukraine, the U.S. border, Taiwan, and other priorities. Tenney’s bill would include just the funding for Israel and reaffirms her commitment to stand alone funding bills. “
- (HONORING HAMAS’S ISRAELI & AMERICAN VICTIMS) H. Res. 803: Introduced 10/20/23 by LaLota (R-NY) and 41 cosponsors (38 Republicans plus Moskowitz, D-FL, Nadler, D-NY, and Goldman, D-NY), “Honoring the American and Israeli civilians murdered and unaccounted for in the brutal attacks by Hamas terrorists.” NOTE: The heinous attack Hamas carried out on 10/7/23 also involved the killing and kidnapping of people who are neither Israeli nor American.
- (NO US TRAVEL TO IRAN) HR 6010: Introduced 10/20/23 by McCormick (R-GA) and 4 Republican cosponsors, “To invalidate the use of United States passports to travel to Iran, and for other purposes.”
(IRAN SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT) HR 6015 (text): Introduced 10/20/23 by Leutkemeyer (R-MO) and no
cosponsors, “To require the President to prevent the abuse of
financial sanctions exemptions by Iran, and for other purposes.” NOTE: This bill was marked up 10/25/23 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee (see Section
- (REVOKE IRAN SANCTIONS WAIVER/FREEZE IRAN $$ FOR PRISONER EXCHANGE) HR 6017: Introduced 10/20/23 by Steel (R-CA) and 4 Republican cosponsors, “To revoke the waiver determination submitted to Congress on September 11, 2023, with respect to certain sanctions imposed with respect to Iran.” Also see: Steel Introduces Freeze of $6 Billion Iran Payoff
- (TARGET FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS’ INVOLVEMENT WITH IRAN) HR 6051 (text): Introduced 10/25/23 by Hill (R-AR) and Vargas (D-CA), “To require the Secretary of the Treasury to report on financial institutions’ involvement with officials of the Iranian Government, and for other purposes,” aka the “Holding Iranian Leaders Accountable Act.” Referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: Rep. Hill Reintroduces Legislation to Provide Transparency Into Financial Corruption of Iranian Leaders; Rep. Vargas Leads Bipartisan Bill to Hold Iranian Leaders Accountable NOTE: This bill was marked up 10/25/23 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee (see Section 3, below).
- (NO REJOINING THE JCPOA!) HR.6057: Introduced 10/25/23 by McClain (R-MI) and 10 consponsors (all Republicans), “To limit the United States from rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” aka the “Iran Nuclear Verification Act.” Also see: Congresswoman McClain Introduces the Iran Nuclear Verification Act This bill was marked up 10/25/23 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee (see Section 3, below).
(USE HAMAS ATTACKS AS PRETEXT TO TARGET BIDEN ADMIN BORDER POLICY)
- S. 3132 (text): Introduced 10/25/23 by Marshall (R-KS) and 3 Republican cosponsors, “A bill to require regular reporting to Congress on individuals encountered along a border of the United States or a port of entry, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Also see: Marshall press release – Senator Marshall Introduces Bill To Require DHS To Report Monthly On Terrorist Watch List Encounters
- S. 3104: Introuced 10/24/23 by Cortez-Masto (D-NV) and Blackburn (R-TN), the “Advanced Border Coordination Act of 2023.” Referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Also see: press release – Blackburn, Cortez Masto Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Law Enforcement Coordination at U.S. Southern Border
- (REMEMBERING THE 1983 MARINE BARRACKS BOMBING IN BEIRUT) H. Res. 808 (text): Introduced 10/24/23 by Pence (R-IN) and 10 cosponsors (bipartisan), “Recognizing the 40th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 23, 1983.” Also see: On the 40th Anniversary of the Beirut Bombing, Congressman Pence Remembers the American Heroes Lost
(RE-DESIGNATE ANSARALLAH AS AN FTO) HR 6046: Introduced 10/25/23 by Clyde (R-GA) and 9 cosponsors
(all Republican, “To designate Ansarallah as a foreign terrorist
organization and impose certain sanctions on Ansarallah, and for other purposes.”
Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Foreign
Affairs. NOTE: Congress does not have the legal authority to designate groups as FTOs…
Israel Emergency Aid
- (EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR ISRAEL AND *ONLY* ISRAEL) Waltz et al letter to Schumer and McConnell: On 10/26/23, Rep. Waltz (R-FL) led a letter, cosigned by 5 House colleagues (all Republicans) to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Schumer (D-NY) and McConnell (R-Y), accusing President Biden of using “Israel’s existential struggle as an excuse to force billions more in additional spending through Congress, rather than address the nation’s most pressing emergencies…” The letter calls for “a narrow supplemental appropriations package” to include only emergency funding for Israel (as well as funding for the U.S. border passed previously by the House but not in the Senate).
- (ENSURE SUFFICIENT US WEAPONS STOCKPILE FOR ISRAELI NEEDS) Roy letter to SecDef: On 10/26/23, Rep. Roy (R-TX) sent a letter to SecDef Austin to “request an inventory assessment of United States defense articles currently located in the War Reserve Stocks for Allies – Israel (WRSA-I).” He goes on to suggest that the Biden Administration’s support for Ukraine may have put Israel in jeopardy: “According to reports, President Biden transferred hundreds of thousands of 155 mm artillery shells from WRSA-I to Ukraine earlier this year.1 As Congress is slated to consider legislation in support of Israel’s defense, it is important for Congress to be fully informed as to what munitions are available in WRSA-I and the extent to which the Biden administration has depleted this stockpile to support Ukraine’s war effort.” He concludes: “As Israel continues to defend itself from Hamas and other regional terrorist groups under the sponsorship of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is imperative to the United States’ national security interests that Israel has the tools it needs to win and deter their adversaries. As you are aware, 10 USC 2229a requires an annual report to Congress on the prepositioned materiel and equipment in various U.S. stockpiles. It is unclear whether this reporting requirement has been consistently applied to WRSA. I request an assessment, either in public or classified form, of the current inventory of weapons in the WRSA-I to assist Congress’ ability to properly advance legislation in support of Israel.” Also see: House Lawmaker Wants Full Accounting of US Arms Stockpiled for Israel (Washington Free Beacon 10/26/23)
Targeting Palestine Aid
- (INVESTIGATING EVER CENT THE US HAS EVER GIVEN THE PALESTINIANS!) Comer et al letter to USAID Administrator: On 10/23/23, Rep. Comer (R-KY) led a letter, cosigned by 23 House colleagues (all Republicans), to USAID Power, informing her that “The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is conducting oversight of how the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assesses the risk of funding and other agency actions that may support activities contrary to U.S. interests. This includes assessments and controls for hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer-funded humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank and the risk that any of these funds could fall into the hands of or otherwise aid Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) such as Hamas. The scale and complexity of the barbaric Hamas atrocities that commenced on October 7th in Israel make it clear that significant financial resources were used for these attacks. Public reports state that the Islamic Republic of Iran provides Hamas with direct funding, amounting to tens of millions annually. We also know that the Biden Administration dramatically increased funding to Gaza and the West Bank and on October 18th, he publicly announced an additional $100 million in U.S. aid to the area. It is vital to fully account for U.S. funds intended for humanitarian purposes to ensure they do not directly or indirectly fund terrorism. We request information to assist the Committee’s oversight.” The letter asks for a list of records and information – pertaining to the time period January 1, 2020, to the present – no later than November 7, 2023. These are: “1. All documents and communications containing any report or assessment that U.S. funding administered by USAID in Gaza or the West Bank was diverted for use by FTOs, including but not limited to Hamas, or affiliated individuals; 2. All documents and communications related to any concern or assessment that U.S. funding administered by USAID in Gaza or the West Bank could be diverted for use by FTOs, including but not limited to Hamas, or affiliated individuals; 3. All documents, including calendar information, meeting notes, and participant information, regarding the Management Committees on Risk and Internal Control (MCRIC) that oversaw risk profile development for USAID West Bank and Gaza programming for Fiscal Years 2021, 2022, and 2023; 4. All documents related to West Bank and Gaza programming in Fiscal Years 2021, 2022, 2023, which reference Hamas, or any other designated FTO.“
- (NO EMERGENCY AID TO PALESTINIANS!) Luetkemeyer et al letter to Biden & Yellen: On 10/19/23, Rep. Leutkemeyer (R-MO) and 7 House colleagues (all Republicans) sent a letter to President Biden and Treasury Secretary Yellen regarding proposed emergency humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. The letter states: “As you both know, humanitarian assistance is fungible, particularly when provided to state sponsors of terrorism or their proxies. Without significant due diligence and controls in place, it is more than likely that funds or material assistance provided for these populations will instead be diverted to fund the continuation of terrorist activity whether in Gaza, the West Bank, or another terrorist stronghold.” The letter states that “Prior to releasing any additional humanitarian assistance,” the Administration must answer a list of questions (no later than October 31, 2023): “1. What assurances does Congress have that this assistance will not finance terror? 2. What due diligence or assessments were conducted prior to the announcement that aid to displaced or conflict-affected Palestinian people would not be diverted to support or finance terrorism? 3. What mechanisms will be put in place to prevent the diversion of assistance to state sponsors of terrorism or their proxies? 4. How will the Department of the Treasury ensure that primary and secondary sanctions currently in place against Iran will not be impacted?”
Targeting Palestine Rights/Free Speech Critical of Israel [Welcome to New McCarthyism…]
- (COMBAT CAMPUS ANTISEMITISM, DEFINED TO MEAN PRO-PALESTINIAN ACTIVISM/SPEECH) Cassidy et al letter to Education Secretary: On 10/26/23, Sen. Ernst (R-LA) led a letter, cosigned by 15 Senate colleagues (all Republicans) to Education Secretary Cardona, expressing concern that, “your Department is not ensuring American universities are fostering a safe learning environment for all students after the terrorist organization Hamas’ violent attack on civilians, including Americans and Israeli citizens. Therefore, we write to urgently understand what the Department of Education (Department) is doing to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ensure Jewish or Israeli college and university students are not subjected to discrimination based on race, color or national origin..” After listing alleged instances of antisemitism and failures of universities to take action, the letter concludes: “Colleges and universities appear unwilling or unable to uphold their legal obligations under Title VI. Therefore, the Department should use its full resources to enforce the law. To assist us in our oversight and legislative duties, we request a briefing to be scheduled no later than November 9, 2023, to discuss: 1. The Department’s plan to promptly move the Antisemitism Awareness Campaign forward in the face of increased, brazen antisemitism at educational institutions across the country; 2. Data about antisemitic related complaints to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR); 3. Whether OCR has begun any compliance reviews based on antisemitic harassment complaints; and 4. Whether OCR has undertaken any directed investigations based on news reports of antisemitic harassment.” Also see: Ernst, Cassidy Combat Antisemitism on College Campuses
- (GWU – CLAMP DOWN ON FREE SPEECH THAT MAKES JEWISH STUDENTS UNCOMFORTABLE!) Gottheimer letter to GWU: On 10/26/23 Rep. Gottheimer (D-NJ) sent a letter to George Washington University President Ellen Granberg strongly urging her to “denounce ongoing antisemitism at the George Washington University (GW) and I also implore you to take immediate disciplinary action against those who projected antisemitic messages on campus buildings celebrating Hamas’ brutal murders and kidnappings of innocent civilians, including Americans.” [see letter below – which he also signed – for details]. He closes: “Jewish students do not feel safe on their own campuses, and I am appalled that university presidents and administrators, including at GW, have yet to forcefully condemn Hamas terror and vile speech by student groups. You have not only a responsibility, but an obligation, to protect all students, including Jewish students, and ensure they can safely remain part of the campus community. There is no room for hate of any kind — including racism, Islamophobia, or antisemitism — on college campuses.”
- (GWU – CLAMP DOWN ON FREE SPEECH THAT MAKES JEWISH STUDENTS UNCOMFORTABLE!) Garbarino et al letter to GWU: On 10/25/23 Rep. Garbarino (R-NY) led a letter of alumni of George Washington University, cosigned by 6 House colleagues (bipartisan), to GW President Ellen Granberg, calling on GWU to take action in response to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The letter is in response to an action by students associated with SJP this week, in which the projected messages on the sides of GW buildings protesting Israel’s military actions in Gaza. Defenders of Israel, including the White House, condemned the action and labeled the messages antisemitic – in what is now the standard conflation of criticism of Israel/Zionism with antisemitism. The House letter expresses “disgust” at asserts that the messages constituted “glorification of Hamas terrorists and calls for the destruction of Israel.” The “glorification of Hamas terrorists” accusation appears to be based on the message “Glory to our martyrs” which pro-Israel critics insist is celebrating Hamas terrorists, but Palestinians (and many non-Palestinians who speak Arabic) argue is a reference to the thousands of people in Gaza that Israel has killed. The “calls for the destruction of Israel” accusation appears to be based on the standard Palestine movement call, “Free Palestine From the River to the Sea,” which pro-Israel critics insist is a call to destroy Israel, and at least some Palestinians argue is merely abut full rights for Palestinians. The letter goes on to list accusations of antisemitism against GW, and concludes: “Nearly a quarter of undergraduate students at GW are Jewish. These students fear for their lives and do not feel safe. GW must make clear to its student body that this despicable behavior won’t be tolerated, and an investigation must be launched without delay.” Also see: Garbarino, Moskowitz, GW Alumni in Congress Call on University President To Launch Investigation Into Antisemitic Messages Projected On Campus Building
- BLM = ANTISEMITISM; DC MUST RE-NAME BLM PLAZA IMMEDIATELY) Rubio et al letter to DC Mayor: On 10/26/23, Sen. Rubio (R-FL) led a letter, cosigned by 20 Republican colleagues (bicameral), to DC Mayor Bowser, urging her to “immediately rename ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ and remove the street painting that reads ‘Black Lives Matter’ due to that movement’s celebration of violent antisemitic terrorism.” The letter goes on: “On October 7, 2023, Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, murdering more than 1,300 innocent civilians and taking more than 100 hostages, including American citizens. Shockingly, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement expressed support for the murderers...For instance, the Chicago BLM Chapter posted an image of a Palestinian terrorist paragliding into Israel to kill Jews with the caption, “I stand with Palestine.” Further, the D.C. chapter of BLM posted that Israel is guilty of ‘apartheid,’ while sharing posts that cast doubt on the atrocities that took place on October 7, including the beheading of babies. Moreover, BLM Grassroots, BLM’s main ‘on the ground assembly of chapters’ and the ideological leader of BLM right now, also threw its support behind these murderous attacks.” The letter closes: “BLM continues to openly celebrate the antisemitic Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel. This stance is irreconcilable with American values. America must clearly affirm its stance against antisemitism, wherever it appears. We therefore urge you to immediately rename the Black Lives Matter Plaza, to remove the associated street painting in the plaza, and to end the city’s celebration of this terrorist sympathizer group.” Also see: Cassidy, Rubio, Banks, 20 Republican Members Insist DC Rename Plaza Following BLM Pro-Hamas Rhetoric
- (HOW DARE THE USG [under Trump, but we won’t mention that] HIRE A PERSON WHO SYMPATHIZES WITH PALESTINIANS!) Comer/Grothman letter to USCIS: On 10/24/23, Reps Comer (R-KY) and Grothman (R-WI) sent a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ur Jaddou, demanding that he turn over far-reaching documentation related to an employee who, according to a recent report in the Daily Wire, “celebrated recent atrocities committed by Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and has made repeated disparaging remarks about Jews and Israelis.” The letter demands the documentation, “To assist our oversight into how an antisemitic terrorist sympathizer gained employment with USCIS and authority over immigration benefits,” be turned over no later than November 7, 2023. NOTE: As mentioned in the Daily Wire article but not in the Comer/Grothman letter, the employee in question appears to have been brought on board by the Department of Homeland Security in June 2019 – that is, under the Trump Administration. Also see: Comer & Grothman Probe USCIS’s Employment of Terrorist Sympathizer
- (CORNELL MUST FIRE PROF OVER HAMAS COMMENTS) Tenney letter to Cornell University President: On 10/24/23, Rep. Tenney (R-NY) sent a letter to Cornell University President Martha Pollack demanding to know “what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken” against a Cornell professor, Russell Rickford, for having described Hamas’s breaking through the barrier into Israel and attacking Israelis as “energizing” and “exhilarating.” Rickford has since issued a statement apologizing for his choice of words. Tenney, however, is not satisfied with that apology: “it is absolutely vital that Professor Rickford immediately resign from his position as an educator at Cornell. While I am aware that Professor Rickford has issued an apology, these heinous remarks are irredeemable, and anybody who espouses such hatred should not remain on Cornell’s campus in such a position of prestige. Such rhetoric should not be tolerated at our universities and in our society in general. If, as you stated, Professor Rickford’s views ‘speak in direct opposition to all we stand for at Cornell,’ and ‘demonstrate no regard whatsoever for humanity.’ then Professor Rickford must resign or be fired.“
- (FACTUALLY ACCURATE VIDEO ABOUT ISRAEL/PALESTINE = VILE ANTISEMITISM!!!) Tenney letter to NY State Board of Regents & Education Department: On 10/23/23, Rep. Tenney (R-NY) sent a letter to New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr. and New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) Commissioner Betty Rosa expressing outrage over a video posted on the NYSED website that she characterized as “vile antisemitism”, and demanding that all those involved in posting it to be held accountable. Based on Tenney’s explanation of what she finds objectionable about the video, it appears that she is arguing that the objective facts about the Israeli-Palestinian situation are themselves antisemitic, and that anyone who speaks or permits others to speak these facts must be punished. She notes: “In the opening image of this video, the map carves out the Golan Heights, whereas the United States recognizes that the Golan Heights is fully a part of Israel.” In fact, President Trump did recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, and the Biden Administration has not rolled back that recognition – but the rest of the world, and international law, reject this annexation. Tenney goes on: “Later, the video refers to ‘occupied East Jerusalem,’ whereas U.S. policy does not actively recognize a split in Jerusalem.” In fact, aside from the U.S., virtually the entire world recognizes the distinction between East and West Jerusalem, as required under international law. And most fun, she concludes: “Furthermore, it recognizes the full West Bank as occupied, whereas pursuant to the Oslo II Accords, Area A is fully under the control of the Palestinian Authority and Area B is jointly administered.” In fact, under the Oslo Accords (and international law) the status of the entire West Bank remains “occupied territory,” notwithstanding what was intended to be the temporary establishment (for a few years only) of Areas A, B, and C – zones in which Israel maintained varying degrees of direct control. Especially fun here is that Tenney refers only to Area A (islands of territory in which the PA has full control but which Israel can and does enter and operate in at will) and Area B (the small area of the West Bank in which the PA ostensibly has control over civilian affairs, and Israel retains overarching security control and can/does operate at will – omitting Area C, which is the 60% of the West Bank in which Israel retains full control and has acted over the past decades to de facto cleanse of Palestinians and for all intents and purposes incorporate into the state of Israel. Tenney also objects to the video presenting the conflict as being over land, rather than “the true essence of the conflict, which is the desire of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and their supporters to wipe out Israel and the Jews, whereas Israel is fighting for the right of it and the Jewish people to exist.” The letter demands, by Nov. 2, answers to a list of “how long have you been guilty of this vile antisemitism?”-style questions, and closes noting that “All New Yorkers deserve access to a fair, balanced, and factually accurate education.” Also see: Congresswoman Tenney Demands Accountability for Anti-Semitic Video Linked to NYSED Website
- (STOP PRO-HAMAS ACTIVITY IN THE US) Moolenaar et al letter to AG Garland: On 10/20/23, Rep. Moolenaar (R-FL) and 33 House colleagues (all Republicans) sent a letter to Attorney General Garland regarding alleged “pro-Hamas activity” in the United States. They write: “We are writing to express [sic] the very disheartening and concerning reports of public rallies in support of Hamas, which is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the federal government. Since Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, our country has seen rallies of support for Hamas, violence directed at Jewish Americans, and anti-Semitic vandalism in cities and college campuses across the nation. This campaign of harassment against Jewish communities and their allies even included a ‘Day of Rage,’ which led to heightened security measures at the U.S. Capitol and cities across the nation. In many cases, law enforcement also increased security around synagogues and schools.” They go on to compare Garland’s actions regarding American parents at school board meetings to this alleged pro-Hamas activity, concluding: “Your inaction in the face of these threats is alarming and requires us to ask the following questions to ensure you are being held accountable to the American people and the Constitution you have sworn to uphold.” These questions – which all take as a proven fact that pro-Hamas activity is taking place in the U.S., especially on college campuses, include: “What is the Department of Justice’s current assessment of the situation regarding pro-Hamas groups in the United States? Has the Department of Justice identified leaders of these organizations and is it investigating whether these individuals are coordinating or communicating with members of Hamas?” and “Are there any ongoing investigations or legal actions against individuals or groups who have publicly stated at pro-Hamas rallies this [sic] that they seek the death of their fellow citizens and classmates?” and “Are federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, coordinating with local and state law enforcement to monitor and address potential threats associated with pro-Hamas rallies?” and “How are the known instances of hate speech, incitement to violence, or harassment related to these protests being addressed? Have individuals making violent comments been detained for questioning by federal law enforcement?” and “Have you directed the U.S. Attorneys working for you to initiate investigations into pro-Hamas organizations in the United States since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7?” and “Have you and FBI Director Christopher Wray discussed opening a tip line and website where the public can report anti-Semitic intimidation and harassment? When will such a line be opened? How will it be staffed and monitored to make sure these cases are investigated and prosecuted, if warranted?” and “How is the Department of Justice working with universities and educational institutions to protect Jewish students and prevent dangerous pro-Hamas events from threatening public safety?” and “What steps are being taken by the Department of Justice to enhance public awareness and education about the dangers of Hamas and anti-Semitism, especially within the academic community?” Also see: Moolenaar and More Than 30 Members of Congress Demand Answers from AG Garland on Pro-Hamas Activity in the United States
- (NO HELP TO IRAN FROM THE IMF!!) Luetkemeyer letter to Yellen: On 10/24/23, Rep. Leutkemeyer (R-MO) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen urging the Department of the Treasury to “take all necessary steps to ensure that Iran is unable to exchange its holdings of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). As you know, Republican Members of the Financial Services Committee strongly opposed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2021 general allocation of SDRs, which provided the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with over $4 billion in unconditional liquidity.” Leutkemeyer requests that Yellen “communicate to the IMF’s membership that any efforts to transact in Iranian SDRs will be subject to applicable U.S. sanctions. At a time when Republicans and Democrats alike are calling on the Administration to freeze $6 billion that was made available to Iran last month for humanitarian assistance, we should immobilize the additional $6 billion (and more) that Iran still holds at the IMF.” Also see: Luetkemeyer Leads Financial Services Letter to Sec. Yellen Regarding Iran Funding
- (TELL US EVERYTHING RE: FREEZING OF IRAN FUNDS IN QATARI BANK) Luetkemeyer et al letter to Yellen: On 10/19/23, Rep. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and 7 House colleagues (all Republicans) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen regarding the freezing of funds released to Iran as part of the prisoner release deal. They write: “On October 12, 2023, it was reported that Deputy Treasury Secretary Adeyemo briefed House Democrats that the U.S. and Qatar agreed to temporarily freeze Iran’s access to these funds. However, it is unclear why he did not also deliver this message to the House majority, including the Subcommittee of Jurisdiction. Moreover, the decision to freeze the funds in Qatar came only after widespread, bipartisan criticism of the justification for the funds release – to pay the ransom for American hostages. Publicly, the Administration has stated that none of the funds have been dispersed. However, there are many questions regarding the inclusion of this transfer in the hostage exchange.” The letter asks for answers, by October 31, to 4 questions: “1. Have the funds been frozen? 2. Under what circumstances would the funds be unfrozen? 3. Is Iran able to use these funds as collateral in order to borrow? 4. If so, is Iran using the funds as collateral?” The letter closes: “With bills introduced in both the House and the Senate that would statutorily freeze these funds, there should be no movement in the funds unless and until Congress acts.”
- (TELL US EVERYTHING RE PLANS TO GIVE IRAN ACCESS TO $$ IN EXCHANGE FOR US PRISONERS) McHenry et al Letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen: On 10/18/23, Reps. McHenry (R-NC), Huizenga (R-MI), and Luetkemeyer (R-MO) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen linking the recent Hamas attack on Israel to Iran, and demanding records and information regarding all Biden Administration activity related to the deal to give Iran access to Iranian funding froze by the U.S., to be provided by November 1, 2023. The letter lists 17 categories of information/records that must be turned over. Also see: McHenry, Huizenga, Luetkemeyer Demand Treasury Produce Records on Status of Sanctions Against Iran (dated 10/24/23)
- (TELL US EVERYTHING ABOUT PLAN TO RELEASE IRANIAN FUNDS IN PRISONER EXCHANGE) McHenry et al letter to Yellen: On 10/18/23, Reps. McHenry (R-NC), Huizenga (R-MI) and Luetkemeyer (R-MO) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen citing Hamas’s recent attack on Israel, saying that it “raises serious questions about the Biden Administration’s Iran’s sanctions policy,” and connecting this to the recent (frozen) plan to release Iranian funds held by the U.S. as part of a prisoner release deal, asserting, “Any money the Iranian regime can obtain —whether through its oil exports or by gaining access through sanctions relief—will be immediately repurposed to fund terrorism.” The letter goes on to demand comprehensive information and records which the signer say are necesary “to better understand the Biden Administration’s decisions regarding economic sanctions on Iran,” to be provided no later than November 1.
- (END TURKEY’S SUPPORT FOR HAMAS) Pappas/Bilirakis et al letter to Blinken: On 10/26/23, Rep. Pappas (D-NH) and Bilirakis (R-FL) led a letter, cosigned by 45 House colleagues (bipartisan) strongly urging SecState Blinken to, “take decisive action to hold the Republic of Turkey accountable for its role in supporting and facilitating the operations of Hamas.” The letter goes on: “We applaud President Biden’s unequivocal support for Israel since Hamas launched its unprecedented attack and urge the United States government to employ the full spectrum of its diplomatic and national security tools to sever any political, logistical, and financial links between Turkey and Hamas that enable Hamas to commit atrocious acts of terrorism against Israel. Accordingly, we urge you to demand that Turkey act against Hamas immediately and without equivocation.” Specifically, the letter asks the State Department to “demand” that the government of Turkey: “1. Formally designate Hamas as a terrorist organization; 2. Close Hamas’s office in Istanbul and any affiliated entities operating in Turkey; 3. Revoke Turkish citizenship and confiscate Turkish passports from all Hamas officials within Turkey; 4. Expel Hamas officials from the country and prohibit their re-entry; 5. Investigate whether any Turkish banks are implicated in the financing of Hamas, report the findings of such an investigation to the U.S. Department of State, and sanction any banks involved in such financing; and 6. Investigate whether any Turkish officials were involved in Hamas’s October 7, 2023, attack on Israel and report said findings to the U.S. Department of State.” Also see: Pappas, Bilirakis Lead Bipartisan Call for Turkey to Stop Supporting Hamas
- (MORE FUNDING TO PROTECT US JEWISH ORGS DUE TO HAMAS ATTACK) Lankford et al letter to Mayorkas & Wray: On 10/25/23, Sen. Lankford (R-OK) led a letter, cosigned by 63 House colleagues (bipartisan), to Attorney General Mayorkas and FBI Director Wray stating: “…following Hamas’ recent terrorist attacks in Israel, antisemitism is on full display in cities around the country, as well as on college and university campuses. Free speech is always protected in the public square, but speech inciting violence, as well as threats and acts of terrorism and violence, must be taken seriously. Given these pressing threats, we support an increase in funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in any upcoming supplemental funding legislation…” Also see: Cassidy, Colleagues Urge DHS, FBI to Prioritize Prevention of Antisemitic Violence
- (BRIEFING TO DISCUSS IF U.S. WEAPONS GETTING INTO HAMAS’S HANDS) Comer/Greene letter to SecDef Austin: On 10/23/23, Reps. Comer (R-KY) and Greene (R-GA) sent a letter to SecDef Austin expressing concerns that U.S. weapons are falling into the hands of Hamas. The letter states: “The Committee has seen reports that U.S.-manufactured weapons are being redistributed and resold in secondary markets to terrorist organizations, including Hamas. The potential possession of U.S. weapons by terrorists is alarming in light of the terrorist group’s recent horrific attack on Israel. Therefore, the Committee seeks a staff briefing on DoD procedures for preventing, addressing, and mitigating weapon diversion abroad.” It goes on to say: “The Committee is concerned by reports that Hamas and other terrorist organizations may have obtained American-made weapons. Recently released photos show Hamas terrorists allegedly holding what appear to be M4A1 Carbines, which were ‘specially designed for U.S. Special Operations Forces.‘” Also see: Comer & Greene Press DOD on U.S. Military Aid and Weapons Falling into Terrorist Hands
October 31, 2023: The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, A Review of the National Security Supplemental Request. Witnesses will be SecState Blinken and SecDef Austin.
October 25, 2023: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a business meeting to consider the nomination of Jack Lew as the new U.S. ambassador to Israel.
October 25, 2023: The House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions held a hearing entitled, “How America and Its Allies Can Stop Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran from Evading Sanctions and Financing Terror.” Witnesses (the witness list really says it all) were: Richard Goldberg, FDD (statement); Gabriel Noronha, JINSA (statement), Jason Brodsky, UANI (statement) and Adam Zarazinski, INCA Digital (statement). Hearing video is here. The hearing will was used as an occasion to advance 8 pieces of legislation related to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
- Three of these had already been introduced at the time of the hearing: HR 5921, “No U.S. Financing for Iran Act of 2023”, introduced 10/11/23; and HR 5923, “Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act of 2023”, introduced 10/11/23; and HR 6015, the “Iran Sanctions Accountability Act of 2023” (text), introduced 10/20/23
- Another one was introduced the day after the hearing, HR 6051, “Holding Iranian Leaders Accountable Act”
- The remaining 4 bills marked up in the hearing appear to have not yet been introduced. They are: H.R.___, “Iran Counterterrorism Act of 2023” [PDF]; H.R.___, “End Financing to Hamas Act of 2023” [PDF]; H.R.___, “Freezing-HAMAS Act” [PDF]; and H.R.___, “Revoke Iranian Funding Act of 2023” [PDF]
October 25, 2023: The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing entitled (rescheduled from an earlier date), An Examination of the Iranian Regime’s Threats to Homeland Security. Witnesses were: Nathan A. Sales, Former Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism (statement); Masih Alinejad, Private Citizen (statement); Robert Greenway, Heritage Foundation (statement); and Thomas Warrick, Atlantic Council (statement). Hearing video is here.
POSTPONED: October 24, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, “Friend and Ally: U.S. Support for Israel After Hamas’ Barbaric Attack.” The witnesses were supposed to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul.
Statements from Members Who Voted No or Present on H. Res. 771
- Bowman: “Consistent with every statement I’ve shared, it is important to state that October 7th is one of the most traumatic and tragic events to Israeli’s and the Jewish community globally since the Holocaust. I strongly condemn Hamas and support all efforts to defeat them. Since Hamas’ attack inside Israel, over 1,400 Israelis have been killed. HR. 771 rightfully condemns Hamas and supports the security of Israel. However, this resolution was written immediately after the attack, and was not updated to reflect the quickly changing and fragile situation in Israel and Gaza. It does not include the urgent need for de-escalation and prevention of ground invasion nor any humanitarian efforts. There is no mention of a two state solution. Over 6,546 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 2,704 children, yet HR 771 was not even updated to fully recognize their lives. I cannot in good conscience vote for a resolution which flagrantly ignores such devastation of life and ignores measures towards long term peace. In order to save Israeli and Palestinian lives now and in the future, and fight the rise of antisemitism, islamophobia and all hate, we need to respond in this moment with leadership, balance and a spirit towards true and long lasting peace, not war.“
- Bush: “All human life is precious, and I will continue to denounce the violence and bloodshed we have seen in Gaza and Israel over the past few weeks. I deeply mourn and grieve all the civilians – Israeli, Palestinian, and American – who were and continue to be killed. For that reason, I voted against this one-sided resolution, which explicitly and intentionally fails to mourn Palestinians while simultaneously green-lighting more death and violence. As more people die every hour, it is shameful that this resolution fails to acknowledge the responsibility of Congress and the entire United States government to do everything in its power to prevent further atrocities. That is why I introduced a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire; so that no one else has to die. I urge my colleagues to join me in not only mourning all the lives lost but also to dare to fight for the living by putting an end to this violence. That starts with a ceasefire now.”
- Green: “Thank you for receiving this explanatory communique in response to the many inquiries from the press and public concerning my decision not to cosponsor H.Res.771 (Standing with Israel as it Defends Itself Against the Barbaric War Launched by Hamas and Other Terrorists). My preeminent rationale from which others emanate is my philosophical conviction that issues of war and peace are questions of conscience, coupled with my sincere belief that we must plan for peace at the genesis of war. Winning a war while losing the peace likely portends future wars. Regrettably, the resolution at hand does not mention a two-state solution in tandem with the necessity to provide aid to the Palestinians, yet both are part and parcel to any hope for lasting peace. I was proud to see President Biden take a similar stance in his address to the nation of Israel on October 18th . My desire for a two-state solution is why, on October 12th, 2023, prior to President Biden’s statement, I sent a letter to the Foreign Affairs Committee Chair and Ranking Member explaining in greater detail why I had not signed onto H.Res.771. My position is born from conscience, for which I alone have a moral imperative to embrace. Hence, on this question of conscience, for me it is better to stand alone than not stand at all. The letter is available here and the resolution text is also available here.“
- Lee: “The violence Hamas unleashed in Israel, particularly the horrific kidnapping and killing of over a thousand innocent civilians and children, is horrifying, unjustifiable, and must be condemned. Since that day, we’ve seen immeasurable loss and destruction upon innocent civilians in Gaza–the loss of over 6,000 innocent Palestinian lives, mostly women and children, 38 UN humanitarian aid workers, 24 journalists, and critical infrastructure–hospitals, schools, roads, churches while as many as 600 American citizens remained trapped. I believe all human lives are precious. This resolution does not acknowledge the overwhelming loss of life and humanity of Palestinians which moves us further from – not closer to – a just and lasting peace. This is a critical mistake that falls short of what the world needs in this moment – which is why I voted ‘No.’ I advocated for those changes that would have gotten myself and others to a ‘Yes’ on this resolution. Republicans refused to acknowledge these concerns and make those humanity-centering changes. Collective punishment of civilians is a violation of international human rights law. A nation’s right to defense does not allow it to violate international law. Palestinian civilians in Gaza – half of whom are children – are not collectively guilty, and should not be collectively punished. The Israeli government’s response to Hamas’ attack is punishing all Palestinians in Gaza by cutting food, water, fuel, electricity and leaving two-thirds of health centers inoperable for innocent civilians. Yet, this resolution calls for tightening what civilian assistance gets into Gaza and fails to even mention the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which would cause further suffering. This is at a time when dehumanizing language and calls for genocide are being repeated by top Israeli officials – language that endangers innocent Palestinians who have no connections to Hamas in Gaza and in the US– such as six-year old Wadea who was stabbed to death in his home outside of Chicago. We have a once-in-a-generation responsibility to save Israeli and Palestinian lives and to help prevent another endless war that will kill and displace an entire generation of innocent children. We must ask ourselves the tough questions. Do we facilitate a mass atrocity rather than de-escalate this war? While we continue to honor and stand with the Jewish community in asserting their humanity against Hamas’ terrorism and fighting against all antisemitism, do we turn a blind eye to the plight of Palestinians? Anyone who values human life and the lives of children would answer no to both questions. As our Jewish community grieves the unbelievable pain, trauma, and loss of the largest number of Jews killed since the holocaust while also grieving the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history 5-years ago this Friday, we must show love and hold space for their pain. We must hold space for Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab communities who are viewing daily heartbreaking images and videos of children in Gaza in body bags. We cannot add to that pain by engaging in an endless war. The only path to peace, the only path to saving more innocent Palestinian and Israeli children and hostages is de-escalation. The people of Gaza need food, water, electricity and now basic health care. Innocent Israeli and American hostages need to be released. We need a Ceasefire NOW.”
- Omar: “I’m committed to peace and a prompt ceasefire. While the resolution rightly acknowledges and mourns the lives taken by Hamas, I cannot support a resolution that fails to acknowledge and mourn the lives of Palestinians taken by the Israeli military. The resolution also fails to acknowledge the Israeli government’s military bombardment of Gaza, especially after Israeli officials openly admitted to implementing collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.Our position should be consistent in defending innocent lives. We must use diplomacy to secure the release of hostages, end the violence by negotiating a ceasefire, restore water, food, and fuel to Gaza, and work toward lasting peace. My unwavering commitment to human rights and peace compels me to oppose any action that perpetuates a crisis that has already ended many lives. For this reason, I cast my vote against House Resolution 771.”
- Ramirez: “I unequivocally condemn Hamas’ horrifying terrorist attack on Israel: the worst perpetration of violence inflicted on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. I join my colleagues in calling for the immediate and safe release of any and all hostages. I grieve with my friends, colleagues, and constituents whose futures are forever changed. I couldn’t vote for today’s resolution. It was incomplete, and I was offered no opportunity to submit changes. When I consider legislation, I ask myself, does this proposal honor our shared humanity? Does it bring us closer to peace through a two-state solution? The resolution filed on October 11 did not honor our shared humanity, did not advance a two-state solution, and did not recognize the interconnectedness of the Israeli and Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation and safety. We cannot unequivocally support or condone the Israeli government’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people in Gaza. The Palestinian people are not Hamas. We must use our collective voice and influence to end the siege that has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinian children, displaced thousands of Palestinians, and limited the humanitarian aid that can reach the region. Violence cannot bring peace, and atrocities cannot justify further war crimes. I affirm my commitment to de-escalation, ceasefire, and diplomacy, and I call on my colleagues to use our significant influence and power to protect human rights, advance international law, and ensure humanitarian aid to those impacted by the escalating violence, including Gaza’s 1.4 million children under the age of 14 living without adequate food, water, and electricity. Our actions must support a true and lasting peace in the region. I believe in a future where Israelis and Palestinians are free and safe. Our futures are interconnected, and that realization can provide a path to liberation and coexistence. We will not get there through a missile barrage or the barrel of a gun.”
- Tlaib: “I have and continue to denounce the killing of civilians, no matter their faith or ethnicity. Targeting civilians is a war crime, no matter who does it. Do not confuse my vote against this one-sided resolution with a lack of empathy for all those who are grieving. I voted against this resolution because it is a deeply incomplete and biased account of what is happening in Israel and Palestine, and what has been happening for decades. This resolution rightly mourns the thousands of Israeli civilians killed and wounded in the horrific attacks but explicitly does not mourn the thousands of Palestinian civilians, including over 2,000 children, killed and wounded in the collective punishment of Palestine. How does treating Palestinian civilians as less than fully human, as legitimate targets for retribution, bring us closer to a just and lasting peace? U.S. military support for Israel with absolutely no conditions on upholding human rights has not brought peace and justice to the region. This resolution is not a serious examination of the root causes of the violence we are witnessing and doubles down on decades of failed policy. Achieving a just and lasting peace where Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights and freedoms, and where no person lives in fear for their safety, requires ending the blockade, occupation, and dehumanizing system of apartheid. I urge my colleagues to support our Ceasefire Now Resolution to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible.”
- Jayapal: “On October 7, 2023, Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack killed 1,400 Israelis, wounded over 5,000 others and took hostage 200 people, including children. I sponsored H.Res 771 as a way to immediately condemn this attack. Since then, I have continued to condemn the attack, reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself and called for the immediate release of all hostages. However, in the 14 days since the resolution was introduced, Israel’s bombings of Gaza have killed more than 5,800 Palestinians, almost half of whom are children. Another 16,000 have been injured and 613,000 internally displaced. Israel has refused to allow fuel and other humanitarian aid to flow freely and has continued mass bombings of Gaza. I cannot in good conscience vote for a resolution that ignores these critical factors and the humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians and their families as this war has unfolded and escalated. I am voting present to be clear that while I still condemn Hamas’s attacks and the pain and suffering of the Jewish people everywhere, I also condemn the violations of international humanitarian law by Israel and the pain and suffering of Palestinian people everywhere that are not recognized anywhere in this resolution.”
- Pressley: “I unequivocally condemn Hamas and the October 7 terrorist attack where Hamas murdered more than 1,400 Israelis, including children and elders. The grief and trauma it has caused for the Israeli and Jewish communities in my district and beyond is palpable, and my heart breaks for the victims, as well as those held hostage by Hamas, their loved ones, and everyone who feels vulnerable in the wake of this attack. I am also devastated by the death of more than 6,000 innocent Palestinian civilians who have been egregiously killed by Israeli airstrikes the last 17 days. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening daily, and millions of Palestinian civilians continue to lack access to food, fuel, and safe drinking water. There are many U.S. citizens, including constituents from Massachusetts like the Okal family and their one-year-old baby, who remain stranded in Gaza and who have faced relentless bombing as they try to flee for safety. I have serious concerns about the dated text of this resolution and its clear omissions. Congressional intent is significant, and I voted present today because I could not in good conscience support an outdated resolution that fails to acknowledge the overwhelming loss of Palestinian life and the consequential moment we find ourselves in. As a woman of faith, I see this issue clearly: saving civilian lives—including the Israeli and American hostages and the Palestinian families trapped in Gaza—must be the priority. Our shared humanity is on the line and every action taken by Congress in this moment should be in pursuit of peace, not further escalating the conflict by endorsing the military response in this resolution without caveats. I continue to call for de-escalation and an urgent ceasefire to save lives and facilitate the safe return of hostages, the evacuation of Americans, and the delivery of humanitarian aid. I stand ready to advance policies that end the cycle of violence and hold space for every precious life and those feeling deeply vulnerable in this moment.”
Jewish Insider 10/27/23: Cardin calls Arab leaders’ comments on Hamas ‘extremely frustrating,’ says private messages are different [“‘To Erdogan, I’d say, “You’re stupid,”’ Sen. Joni Ernst says. ‘And to the queen of Jordan, I understand the difficulty that she has in this situation’”]
Jewish News Syndicate 10/25/23: New House speaker: First bill on floor will be Israeli aid package
Jewish News Syndicate 10/25/23: Canary Mission: Tlaib has ‘extensive fundraising ties’ to Hamas
New York Post 10/25/23: Op-ed by Sen. Blackburn – Helping Palestinians requires eradicating Hamas, not funding it —as Biden’s aid package would do
Jewish News Syndicate 10/25/23: Lawmakers, Jewish organizations mourn IDF reservist Omer Balva, 22
Jewish Insider 10/25/23: House Democrats react to Tlaib’s refusal to accept U.S., Israeli assessment of Gaza hospital blast
Jewish Insider 10/25/23: Jewish Democrats feel ‘abandoned by the progressive community,’ Manning says [“‘To have [the Hamas attack] dismissed as ‘we feel bad about all loss of life’ misses the moment that our progressive brothers and sisters have to stand with the Jewish community in such a painful time.’ she said“]
Jewish News Syndicate 10/24/23: Tension over question about Tlaib at press conference with US senators in Israel
Jewish News Syndicate 10/24/23: Ethics complaint filed against Tlaib for spreading falsity about Gaza hospital
Washington Free Beacon 10/24/23: Rashida Tlaib Defends Hamas’s Hospital Blast Narrative, Suggests US and Israeli Conspiracy
Daily Beast 10/24/23: Bob Menendez Got Boeing Cash After Egypt Aircraft Deal
Jewish News Syndicate 10/23/23: 18 House Democrats sign resolution for Mideast de-escalation, ceasefire [“‘These radical Democrats clearly need a history lesson,’ said Sam Markstein, national political director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.”]
Fox News 10/23/23: JD Vance circulates memo calling for Israel and Ukraine aid to be split up
Jewish Insider 10/23/23: Senate delegation to Israel, Saudi Arabia denounces Iranian role in Oct. 7 attacks
South Florida Sun Sentinel 10/22/23: Op-Ed by Sen. Scott (R-FL) – On foreign policy, America was far better off with Trump
Jewish Telegraphic Agency 10/22/23: More than half of House Democrats endorse Biden’s backing of Israel in Hamas war [letter covered in last week’s Round-Up]
Daily Beast 10/22/23: Congress Should Reject Calls to Expel Members of the ‘Squad’ [“A proposal from Senator Tim Scott and others to rid Congress of pro-Palestinian members would only jeopardize our principles of free speech and prove to be a very slippery slope.”]
Washington Post 10/21/23: Republicans target visas of student protesters. That violates free speech, experts say.
New York Post 10/19/23: Op-ed by Sen. Scott (R-SC) – Expel Hamas’ propagandists in Congress — and don’t give the terrorists taxpayer cash