Legislative Round-Up- December 8, 2023

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

1.Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. Hearings & Markups
4. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

NOTE: For the foreseeable future, given the scope and pace of current events & related noise and actions coming from the Hill, there will continue to be no comprehensive “On the Record” in the Round-Up (use google or check members’ websites to see what a specific members is saying) and an abbreviated/selective Media section. Likewise, I’ll continue to cover all letters I find, but in most cases I’m just giving links and maybe an excerpt (apologies to anyone who misses the analysis and occasional snark). Let us all hope that the time will soon return when the horror-show of events on the ground ends and the Round-Up can return to systematically reporting on the full gamut of “normal” Middle East-related grandstanding on and from the Hill.



1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

Conflating Criticism of Israel/Zionism with Antisemitism

  • (INVOKE IHRA DEFINITION; ANTI-ZIONISM & SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIANS = ANTISEMITISM!) H. Res. 894: Introduced 11/28/23 by Kustoff (R-TN) and Miller (R-OH), “Strongly condemning and denouncing the drastic rise of antisemitism in the United States and around the world.” Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary and on Foreign Affairs. Excerpts: “Whereas the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is widely accepted and serves as a critical tool to help individuals comprehend and identify the various manifestations of antisemitism” and Whereas the slogan ‘From the River to the Sea’, which is a rallying cry for the eradication of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, has been used by anti-Israel protesters in the United States and globally” and from the resolve clauses, the House “clearly and firmly states that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.Passed by the House 12/5/23 by a vote of 311-14 with 92 voting “present”

Also see:

    • Floor statements/grandstanding around H. Res. 894, including Nadler (D-NY) on H. Res. 894: “...the resolution implicitly compares some peaceful protesters with the January 6 rioters and insurrectionists. I suppose they have their reasons for that. More problematically, the resolution suggests that all anti-Zionism–it states that all anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. That is either intellectually disingenuous or just factually wrong. It unfairly implicates many of my orthodox former constituents in Brooklyn, many of whose families rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. While most anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitic, the authors, if they were at all familiar with Jewish history and culture, should know about Jewish anti-Zionism that was and is expressly not anti-Semitic. This resolution ignores the fact that even today certain orthodox Hasidic Jewish communities–the Satmars in New York and others–as well as adherents of the pre-state Jewish labor movement have held views that are at odds with the modern Zionist conception. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, `the anti-Zionist world-view of the ultra-Orthodox groups… ‘ like the Satmar Hasidism ‘perceives Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel as an anti-messianic act…’ That is to say that these ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews believe that only the Messiah can bring about the true Israel, and I assure you the Satmar Hasidic Jews are certainly not antisemitic. I should also note that there are those who try to smear even progressive pro-Israel supporters with the inappropriate label of ‘Israel hater’ or ‘anti-Zionist.’ Under this resolution, those who love Israel deeply but criticize some of its policy approaches could be considered anti-Zionist. That could make every Democratic Jewish Member of this body–because they all criticized the recent Israeli judicial reform package–de facto anti-Semites. Might that be the authors’ intention? Again, let me be unequivocally clear, most anti-Zionism, particularly in this moment, has a real antisemitism problem, but we cannot fairly say that one equals the other…
    • House to vote on antisemitism resolution declaring anti-Zionism is antisemitic -The resolution, sponsored by two Jewish Republicans, is likely to split progressive Democrats (Jewish Insider 12/4/23); US House to pass another resolution conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism (Middle East Monitor 12/5/23); A House resolution denounces antisemitism. Here’s why some Jewish members voted ‘present’ (The Forward 12/5/23); With 92 Democrats voting ‘present,’ House calls anti-Zionism Jew-hatred (Jewish News Syndicate 12/5/23)
  • (NEW BIPARTISAN MCARTHY-IST COMMITTEE TARGETING CRITICS OF ISRAEL) HR 6578 (bill text): Introduced 12/4/23 by Miller Meeks (R-IA) and 24 cosponsors (including 4 Democrats), “To establish the Commission to Study Acts of Antisemitism in the United States,” aka, the “Commission to Study Acts of Antisemitism in the United States Act.” The commission would be set up to: “(1) investigate the facts and causes of antisemitism in the present day; (2) examine and evaluate evidence developed by relevant Federal, State, and local governments regarding the facts and circumstances of antisemitic attacks within the United States, except that such examination and evaluation shall not interfere with ongoing law enforcement activities and investigations; and (3) report to the President and Congress regarding its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for legislation or administrative actions as the Commission considers appropriate.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Some notable features of this legislation that should raise alarms & other things of note:

    • The bill would create a new Congressional body that would have broad subpoena authority to compel Americans to testify and produce “evidence” related to the committee’s mission.
    • Under this bill, those called to testify cannot plead the 5th – that is, they are legally required to engage in self-incrimination.
    • Under this bill, every member of the Commission – each of whom, once appointed, serves for the life of the committee – has the full authority to do everything the committee is authorized to do.
    • The bill doesn’t mention the IHRA definition of antisemitism, but instead copies-and-pastes the IHRA definition of antisemitism, without listing its examples. Given that many/most cosponsors of the bill are on the record backing the IHRA definition (including its Israel-focused examples), and the bill’s organizational backers have made universal adoption/enforcement of the IHRA (including its examples) a centerpiece of their activities, it is fair to read the bill as embracing both the IHRA definition and its examples. The fact that the IHRA (incl examples) is central to this effort is also clear from intent behind this bill, which is focused exclusively on targeting criticism of Israel and Zionism. This intent is evident in the “whereas” clauses, which are 100% about Oct 7 and its aftermath, and in the press release accompanying the bill. The agenda behind this bill is also clear from the fact that nothing like this was introduced during the Trump era or since to deal with surging antisemitism in the form of open activities by white supremacists and literal NAZIS in the US.
    • All of the above make clear that this bill is an effort to create a current day version of the infamous “House Un-American Activities Committee” that is widely associated with McCarthyism – focused not on “subversive” activities of Americans and American universities and other bodies, but instead on alleged “antisemitism.”
    • AIPAC is backing this bill (no surprise). So is the ADL! Yes, for the sake of suppressing criticism of Israel, the ADL is backing a 2023 version of the McCarthyist witch hunt that destroyed the lives of countless Jewish Americans. Take that in.
  • (CONFLATING CRITICISM OF ISRAEL WITH ANTISEMITISM BUT NOT TO THE EXTENT OF OTHER BILLS) H. Res. 907:  Introduced 12/4/23 by Nadler (D-NY) and two cosponsors (Raskin, D-MD, and Goldman, D-NY), “To condemn the rise in antisemitism, call on all Americans to combat antisemitism in the United States, and implement aspects of the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. NOTE: this appears to be Nadler’s response to H. Res. 894 (see above for an excerpt from his floor statement opposing that resolution). Also see: press release – NADLER, GOLDMAN, RASKIN LEAD RESOLUTION CONDEMNING ANTISEMITISM & CALL FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE U.S. NATIONAL STRATEGY TO COUNTER ANTISEMITISM

Aid for & Cooperation with Israel

(EMERGENCY AID FOR ISRAEL – SENATE VERSION) HR 815: On 12/5/23, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee released the Senate’s version of the FY23 Supplemental aid package (see: press release; summary of the aid package; text of the legislation). As is often the case, this Senate effort involves a totally unrelated House bill – in this case HR 815, the “Removing Extraneous Loopholes Insuring Every Veteran Emergency Act” or the “RELIEVE Act” – the text of which the Senate will delete in its entirety and replace with the text of the Senate’s supplemental aid package.  On 12/6/23, Senate Democrats attempted to bring the supplemental package (via HR 815) up for consideration on the Senate floor, but were blocked by a vote of 49-51, with all Senate Republicans and Sanders (I-VT) voting “no.”On 12/7/23, Senators Van Hollen (D-MD), Durbin (D-IL), Kaine (D-VA), Schatz (D-HI), Warren (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Welch (D-VT), Heinrich (D-NM), Carper (D-DE), Luján (D-NM),  Sanders (I-VT), Hirono (D-HI), and Markey (D-MA) annnounced they would be offer an amendment to require that the use of supplemental aid (to everyone getting it in the bill)  comply with U.S. and international law. That amendment (as summarized by its sponsors),  “1. Requires that the weapons received by any country under this bill are used in accordance with U.S. law, international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict. 2. Requires that the president obtain assurances that any country receiving weapons through this bill cooperate fully with U.S.-supported efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, subject to a presidential waiver.  3. Requires that the president report to the Congress within 30 days on whether each country receiving U.S. security assistance through this bill is: Using U.S.-funded military equipment in accordance with: Their intended purposes and U.S. end-use monitoring programs; international humanitarian law, the law of armed conflict, and U.S. law; the President’s 2023 Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy and the Defense Department’s Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMR-AP); Fully cooperating with U.S. efforts and U.S.-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians; 4. Clarifies that these provisions do not apply to funds for air defense systems or other systems that the president determines will be used for strictly defensive purposes.

NOTE: Given the clusterf*** that characterizes the House these days, there is a very good chance that this bill will go nowhere.

What’s in the Senate Supplemental Aid Package?

The bill provides the following for Israel and the Middle East. Woven into this list is helpful analysis from a thread posted on X by POMED’s Seth Binder on 12/6/23:

A. Funding for Israel (total: just under $14 billion)

  • up to $4.4 billion, which “may be transferred to accounts under the headings ‘Operation and Maintenance’, ‘Procurement’, and ‘Revolving and Management Funds’ for replacement, through new procurement or repair of existing unserviceable equipment, of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, and for reimbursement for defense services of the Department of Defense and military education and training, provided to or identified for provision to the government of Israel or to foreign countries that have provided support to Israel at the request of the United States…
  • $810.4 million, from “Procurement of Ammunition, Army” “to respond to the situation in Israel and for related expenses
  • $4 billion, from ‘‘Procurement, Defense-Wide’’ “for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems to counter short-range rocket threats: Provided further, That funds in the preceding proviso shall be transferred pursuant to an exchange of letters and are in addition to funds provided pursuant to the U.S.-Israel Iron Dome Procurement Agreement, as amended...”
  • $1.2 billion from ‘‘Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Defense-Wide’’ “for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the government of Israel for the development of the Iron Beam defense system to counter short-range rocket threats“. Per POMED’s Seth Binder – “It would provide $1.2 billion for research and development for the Iron Beam, a not-yet operational laser system. In comparison, in the first decade of support for the Iron Dome from 2011-2021, the US provided $1.6 billion. (related article – What is Israel’s Iron Beam?)”
  • $3.5 billion from ‘‘Foreign Military Financing Program’’ “…available for advanced weapons systems, of which up to $3,500,000,000 may be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services” [as in, all of it can be spent on procurement in Israel, rather than in the US, as is normally required by law – as noted by POMED’s Seth Binder – The entire $3.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel could be used to purchase arms from Israel’s domestic industry, known as Off-Shore Procurement. Previously no more that 30% of FMF could be used for OSP & the current MOU intentionally phases out this privilege. ]. Also: “Provided further, That any congressional notification requirement applicable to funds made available under this heading in this Act for Israel may be waived if the Secretary of State determines that to do so is in the national security interest of the United States” [again, per POMED’s Seth Binder – “There are ZERO reporting requirements for any of the military aid for Israel in the bill, in stark contrast to the oversight applied to aid to Ukraine. In fact, it would give the Secretary of State the option to waive normal congressional notifications on FMF“]

B. Other goodies for Israel – US War Stockpiles!

  • Section 505: “Section 12001 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2005 (Public Law 108–287), as amended by Public Law 115–141, is amended as follows: (1) In paragraph (2) of subsection (a), by striking ‘‘armor’’ and all that follows through the end of the paragraph and inserting ‘‘defense articles that are in the inventory of the Department of Defense as of the date of transfer, are intended for use as reserve stocks for Israel, and are located in a stockpile for Israel as of the date of transfer’’. (2) In subsection (b), by striking ‘‘at least equal to the fair market value of the items transferred’’ and inserting ‘‘in an amount to be determined by the Secretary of Defense’’. (3) In subsection (c), by inserting before the comma in the first sentence the following: ‘‘, or as far in advance of such transfer as is practicable as determined by the President on a case-by-case basis during extraordinary circumstances impacting the national security of the United States’’. Per POMED’s Seth Binder: “It would change the law to allow the Secretary of Defense to ‘determine’ the cost to Israel of any arms it uses from the War Reserve Stockpile rather than requiring the US to charge the ‘fair market value.‘”]
  • Section 506: “For fiscal year 2024, section 514(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2321h(b)) shall not apply to defense articles to be set aside, earmarked, reserved, or intended for use as reserve stocks in stockpiles in the State of Israel.” Per POMED’s Seth Binder: “It would remove the $200 million cap on how much arms the US could put in the War Reserve Stockpile in Israel for Fiscal Year 2024, allowing DOD to restock as much as it wants into Israel, without restriction, and then charge whatever it wants if Israel uses the equipment…This loophole would expand upon a 2021 law that allowed DOD to restock precision-guided munitions without limit and which Israel has reportedly already taken advantage of during this war. (related article How Israel Got an Endless Supply of U.S.-Made Smart Bombs)

C. Other things in the bill

  •  $100 million under ‘‘Diplomatic Programs’’-“to remain available until expended, shall be for Worldwide Security Protection, including to respond to the situation in Israel and areas impacted by the situation in Israel”
  • $39 million under “Funds Appropriated to the President,” under the category of ‘‘Operating Expenses,”  “to remain available until September 30, 2025, to respond to the situations in Israel and Ukraine and areas and countries impacted by the situations in Israel and Ukraine
  • $25 million in Economic Support Funds for “reconciliation programs in the Middle East, including between Israelis and Palestinians
  • $75 million under ‘‘International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement’’ “for assistance for countries in the Middle East, including for assistance for Jordan and Lebanon, including to enhance partner capacity related to border security and the security of United States diplomatic facilities, of which $10,000,000 shall be for programs to be administered by the Office of the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC), following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations: Provided further, That funds made available in the preceding proviso for programs administered by the USSC shall be the responsibility of the Chief of Mission, in consultation with the USSC

Also see:

(US ECONOMIC SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL) S. Res. 445: Introduced 11/2/23 (not previously reported in the Round-Up — sorry!) by Blackburn (R-TN) and having 26 cospsonsors (bipartisan), A resolution recognizing the importance of the economic relationship between the United States and Israel and affirming that trade facilitated by the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement is a tool to support the economy of Israel during the conflict with Hamas.Passed by the Senate 12/6/23 by Unanimous Consent. Also see: press release –Blackburn, Cortez Masto Resolution To Strengthen Economic Ties With Israel

Supporting Palestinians

  • (AFFIRMING THE STATE OF PALESTINE’S RIGHT TO EXIST) H. Res. 902Introduced 12/1/23 by Green (D-TX) and no cosponsors, “Original Resolution Affirming the State of Palestine’s Right to Exist.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Using Israel as Hook to Get the US out of the UN

  • (US OUT OF UN!!!) HR 6645 & S. 3428 (bill text): Introduced 12/6/23 in the House by Roy (R-TX) and Rogers (R-AL), and in the Senate by Lee (R-UT), “To terminate membership by the United States in the United Nations, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Disengaging Entirely from the United Nations Debacle (DEFUND) Act. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Also see: press release — Senator Lee Introduces Act to Defund and Depart UN [Roy: “This year, the United Nations’ corruption, and its despicable, brazen political agenda have been on full display. From UNRWA actively protecting Hamas and acting against our ally Israel, delayed condemning Hamas, to China being elected to the ‘Human Rights Council,’ to the propagation of climate hysteria, covering for China’s forced abortion and sterilization programs, the UN’s decades-old, internal rot once again raises the questions of why the United States is even still a member or why we’re wasting billions — indeed, $12.5 billion in 2021 — every year on it. The UN doesn’t deserve one single dime of American taxpayer money or one bit of our support; we should defund it and leave immediately. I am proud to lead this critical effort alongside Mike Lee and Mike Rogers.” Also see one-page summary.

Targeting Hamas & Other Terror Orgs & (likely) All Palestinians or Supporters of Palestinians by Conflating Them With Hamas

  • (*LIKELY* – USING HAMAS ATTACKS TO BAN US VISAS FOR SUPPORTERS OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS) HR 6679:  Introduced 12/7/23 by McClintock (R-CA), To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to aliens who carried out, participated in, planned, financed, supported, or otherwise facilitated the attacks against Israel.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. NOTE: As of this writing text is yet available for HR 6679, but given that it is already barred under US law for people who carry out or materially support acts of terrorism to receive US visas (immigrant or tourist), it is likely that this legislation is seeking to in effect expand the meaning of “supported…attacks against Israel” to include public statements that are interpreted (in some cases correctly, in most cases cynically and inaccurately) as conveying approval of the attacks, or – as we’ve seen in the public narrative insisted on by the government of Israel and many of its defenders, including in Congress — as daring to suggest that there is any political context pre-October 7th that is relevant to understanding what happened on October 7th and its aftermath.
  • (CONDEMNING HAMAS) S. Res. 484 (resolution text):—Introduced 12/5/23 by Manchin (D-WV) and Collins (R-ME), A resolution condemning the terrorist organization Hamas.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  Excerpt: “Whereas the First Amendment does not provide the right to engage in defamation, or to threaten or incite violence in support of the ideology of terrorist organizations; Whereas there have been protests across the United States in support of Hamas in the wake of the ongoing conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip; Whereas the majority of protests have been peaceful assemblies in support of Israelis and Palestinians; Whereas a small minority of individuals has used the conflict to sow animosity and violence in support of terrorist groups such as Hamas;…Whereas terrorist organizations, acts of terrorism, and the misinformation perpetrated by terrorist organizations should never be defended or sympathized with…Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate…encourages respect for the right of individuals to peacefully assemble and practice their religion freely without perpetrating violence on others…”
  • (TARGETING TERRORIST FINANCING) HR 6588: Introduced 12/5/23 by De La Cruz (R-TX, To require the Secretary of the Treasury to assess whether international financial institutions, such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund, are sufficiently focused on preventing terrorist financing. Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. Also see: press release – Bills to Fight Terrorism Introduced by Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz

Targeting Iran

  • (TO APPLY FOREIGN-DIRECT RULES TO IRAN) HR 6603: Introduced 12/5/23 by Moran (R-TX) and McCaul (R-TX), “To apply foreign-direct product rules to Iran,” aka, the “No Technology for Terror Act.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: press release – Moran, McCaul Introduce No Technology for Terror Act

Supporting Americans Targeted by Hamas or Others

  • (HELP FAMILIES OF AMERICANS DETAINED ABROAD) HR 6669 (bill text):  Introduced 12/7/23 by Hill (R-AR) and Stevens (D-MI), “To provide resources for United States nationals unlawfully or wrongfully detained abroad.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: press release – REP. HILL INTRODUCES BILL TO ASSIST THE FAMILIES OF AMERICANS WRONGFULLY DETAINED [Stevens: “This legislation significantly reduces the financial hardships associated with traveling to Washington to advocate for and learn about the status of loved ones across many channels of government. I am grateful to work with Rep. French Hill to introduce this legislation — we will keep pushing until each and every American wrongfully detained is home safe.”]
  • (WAIVE COSTS TO US CITIZENS EVACUATIONS RELATED TO HAMAS ETC) HR 6553: Introduced 12/1/23 by Magaziner (D-RI) and 14 cosponsors (bipartisan), “To require the waiver of costs of activities relating to the evacuation of United States citizens endangered by acts of terrorism or war in Israel instigated by Hamas and other Islamist militant groups.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Other stuff


(FY23 NDAA) HR 2670: This week  House and Senate negotiators came to an agreement on text for the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (see conference report – 3093 pages). And given the challenge of passing any major legislation in this Congress, it should come as no surprise that the NDAA (which is viewed as must-pass legislation) was transformed as a vehicle for a number of other authorization bills. In total it comprises: Department of Defense Authorizations, Military Construction Authorizations, Department of Energy Ntional Security Authorizations and Other Authorizations, Department of State Authorization Act of 2023, and Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024. Key Israel/Middle East-related provisions of the bill (spread across the various agency authorizations it contains) are listed below. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week but, given the clusterf*** that characterizes the House these days, there is still a very good chance that this bill will go nowhere. Also see: House and Senate release finalized 2024 NDAA compromise bill (Jewish Insider 10/7/23)

  • (IRAN) Section 351. Assessment and strategy relating to hardening of certain military installations against attack by Iran and Iranian-associated groups.
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1211. Requirement for military exercises. – requirement that Israel be invited to participate and that exercises “seek to enhance the interoperability and effectiveness of the United States Armed Forces, the armed forces of Israel, and the armed forces of other allies and partners of the United States in coalition operations…” including “practicing the aerial refueling of combat aircraft of the armed forces of Israel by United States aerial refueling aircraft” and “practicing the provision by the United States Armed Forces of other enabling capabilities to the armed forces of Israel, including—(i) logistics support; (ii) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and (iii) air defense…
  • (YEMEN) Section 1227. Extension of prohibition on in-flight refueling to non-United States aircraft that engage in hostilities in the ongoing civil war in Yemen
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1242. Extension and modification of certain temporary authorizations related to munitions replacement – to authorize the giving of additional (and larger) munitions to Israel and Taiwan, and to exempt these munitions from normal cost requirements, at the sole discretion of the Secretary of Defense
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1251. Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program – requiring a report a report “on the feasibility and advisability of including Israel in observer status in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program (ENJJPT).”
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1252. Extension of United States-Israel anti-tunnel cooperation – extending the existing program through December 31, 2026
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1253. Improvements relating to United States-Israel cooperation to counter unmanned aerial systems – increasing funding for this program from $40 million to $55 million.
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1254. Modification of authority for cooperation on directed energy capabilities – authorizing the program and requiring an extensive report.
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1255. Ensuring peace through strength in Israel – amending US law regarding weapons stockpiles to extend approval for Israel to access amounts of weapons in US stockpiles in excess of legal restrictions; requiring an extensive report designed to ensure that Israel has accesses to large amounts of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) via US stockpiles; requiring a report “to details the actions being taken by the United States to pre-position, increase, stockpile, address shortfalls, and otherwise ensure that the War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel has, and assist Israel in ensuring that Israel has, sufficient quantities and types of munitions, including precision-guided munitions…”
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1256. Assistance to Israel for aerial refueling – including training the Israeli Air Force on the operation and maintenance of KC–46 aircraft and providing an assessment to Congress of how soon the US can provide KC-46 aircraft to Israel. Also requires that “The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall consult with the Government of Israel to determine the advisability and practicality of the Government of Israel hosting rotational deployments of United States KC–46 aircraft to Israel”
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1257. Rules governing transfer of aerial refueling tankers to Israel. Authorizes the President via the Secretary of Defense to “transfer to Israel one or more retired United States aerial refueling tankers, any United States aerial refueling tanker that the Secretary of Defense plans to retire during the two-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, or any other United States aerial refueling tanker the President considers appropriate…”
  • (TARGETING BOYCOTTS OF ISRAEL/SETTLEMENTS) Section 1258. Report — (a) REPORT. (1) IN GENERAL .—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to Congress a report on whether any products sold at commissary or exchange stores in fiscal years 2021 or 2022 were produced by companies described in paragraph (2) that have participated in a boycott action against the State of Israel. (2) COMPANIES DESCRIBED .—The companies described in this paragraph are companies that have entered into a contract with the Department of Defense to sell products described in paragraph (1) the total value of which exceeds $10,000,000. (b) SENSE OF CONGRESS .—Congress is concerned about the antisemitic efforts of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel, including its efforts to delegitimize, isolate, and ultimately destroy the Jewish state. (c) DEFINITION .—In subsection (a), the term ‘‘boycott action against the State of Israel’’ means engaging in a boycott action targeting the State of Israel, companies or individuals doing business in or with the State of Israel, or companies authorized by, licensed by, or organized under the laws of the State of Israel to do business.” [NOTE: this convoluted definition of “boycott action against the State of Israel” — which as written would include, for example, an Israeli company manufacturing products in China or Russia — is engineered to include boycotts of settlement products]
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1261. Middle East integrated maritime domain awareness and interdiction capability – “The Secretary of Defense, using existing authorities, shall seek to build upon the incorporation of Israel into the area of responsibility of the United States Central Command to develop a Middle East integrated maritime domain awareness and interdiction capability…” Report must include: “A description of progress made in advancing the integration of Israel into the existing multilateral maritime partnerships..”
  • (SYRIA) Section 1262. Modification of establishment of coordinator for detained ISIS members and relevant populations in Syria.
  • (SYRIA & IRAQ) Section 1263. Extension and modification of authority to provide assistance to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
  • (SYRIA) Section 1264. Extension and modification of authority to provide assistance to vetted Syrian groups and individuals.
  • (IRAQ) Section 1265. Extension of authority to support operations and activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq.
  • (IRAQ) Section 1266. Plan of action to equip and train Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
  • (IRAQ) Section 1267. Prohibition on transfers to the Badr Organization.
  • (IRAN) Section 1268. Extension and modification of annual report on military power of Iran.
  • (IRAN) Section 1269. Modification and update to report on military capabilities of Iran and related activities.
  • (IRAN) Section 1270. Prohibition on funds to Iran.
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1411. Improvements to Strategic and Critical Materials Stock Piling Act.
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1412. Authority to dispose of materials from the National Defense Stockpile.
  • (ISRAEL) Section 1665. Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system and Israeli cooperative missile defense program co-development and co-production – providing: up to $80 million for Iron Dome; up to $40 million for David’s Sling Weapon System; up to $80 million for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program [note: the table at the end of the bill notes that the bill provides $300 million total for Israeli Cooperative Programs]
  • (ISRAEL/ABRAHAM ACCORDS) Section 6407. Presidential Envoy for the Abraham Accords, Negev Forum, and Related Integration and Normalization Fora and Agreements – a lengthy new section of law that establishes “within the Department of State the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for the Abraham Accords, Negev Forum, and Related Integration and Normalization Fora and Agreements” appointed by the President with the rank of Ambassador with a broad mandate and authority to promote normalization and “regional integration
  • (ISRAEL/HOSTAGES) Section 6409. Resources for United States nationals unlawfully or wrongfully detained abroad – legislating “For the purpose of facilitating meetings between the United States Government and the family members of United States nationals unlawfully or wrongfully detained abroad, the Secretary shall provide financial assistance to cover the costs of travel to and from Washington, D.C., including travel by air, train, bus, or other transit as appropriate…” Also covers lodging and other expenses.
  • (ISRAEL/ABRAHAM ACCORDS) Section 7338. Assessment by Director of Central Intelligence Agency on certain effects of Abraham Accords – requires “an assessment of the current effects on the intelligence community of the agreements between Israel and 4 other foreign countries, collectively known as the Abraham Accords, and of the potential effects on the intelligence community if the Abraham Accords were to be expanded to additional foreign countries…”
  • (CHINA IN THE MIDDLE EAST) Section 7336. Central Intelligence Agency intelligence assessment with respect to efforts by People’s Republic of China to increase influence in Middle East.
  • (IRAN) Section 7413. Monitoring Iranian enrichment of uranium-235.
  • Conferee notes at the end of the Report include: “The conferees strongly condemn the horrific October 7, 2023 attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists. The conferees affirm that since 1948, Israel has been one of the strongest friends and allies of the United States. The conferees further affirm that Israel is a stable, democratic country in a region historically and currently marred by turmoil. The conferees further affirm that for these reasons it is essential to the strategic interest of the United States to continue to provide full security assistance and related support to Israel. The conferees further affirm that such assistance and support is especially vital as Israel confronts a number of present and potential challenges, including threats from Hamas terrorists, Iran, and Iranian-linked groups.


2. Letters

Slandering (and Endangering) the Media

  • 12/7/23: Rep. Clyde Demands Answers [from CNN, NYT, AP, & Reuters) on Photojournalists Present During Hamas Terrorist Attack (letter text) – “We write to express grave concern over reports that freelance photojournalists working for your organizations were present at the scene of Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. Their early morning presence at the breached border raises serious ethical questions about whether they had advance knowledge of Hamas’ plan and not only failed to alert authorities, but even joined the attackers, as evidenced by photographs purportedly showing a photojournalist wielding weapons alongside terrorists. This potentially implicates them as accomplices in war crimes and crimes against humanity in violation of international law and human rights conventions.

Supporting Israel & Israeli (and Israeli-American) Hostages

Oversight over Israeli’s Operations & Use of US Weapons & Ceasefire

  • 12/5/23: Sanders Sends Dear Colleague Letter Expressing Serious Concerns Over $110.5 Billion Foreign Aid Bill Ahead of Wednesday Vote (letter text) — “…At a time when some 16,000 Palestinians have been killed in the last two months, two thirds of whom are women and children, and more than 40,000 have been injured. At a time when some 1.9 million people have been displaced from their homes and are struggling every day to get the food, water, medical supplies, and fuel they need to survive. At a time when almost half the housing units in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed and when many schools and medical facilities have been wrecked. At a time when over 260 people have been killed by Israeli security forces and settlers in the West Bank since October 7th, and more than a thousand Palestinians have been driven off their land there.  No, I do not think we should be appropriating $10.1 billion for the right-wing, extremist Netanyahu government to continue its current military strategy. What the Netanyahu government is doing is immoral, it is in violation of international law, and the United States should not be complicit in those actions…”
  • 12/5/23: Escobar, Houlahan, Moulton Lead Letter to President Biden on Israel’s Current Military Operation (letter text) – “...We believe that lasting peace will only be realized when both Israelis and Palestinians have security, prosperity, and self-determination. We must stand firm in our democratic commitment to upholding human rights and ensure we conduct ourselves accordingly. These commitments are especially important for lethal aid provision and are directly reflective of our nation’s credibility on the world stage. We ask you to continue to seek public assurances that Israeli operations abide by the laws of armed conflict, respect international law, and actively seek to minimize civilian deaths. Use of U.S.-provided systems and equipment must also abide by U.S. and international law. We believe the execution of these priorities and their public elevation are key in combating support for Hamas and other terrorist groups. This effort goes hand in hand with urging both Israeli officials and the Palestinian Authority to commit to protecting and stopping violent acts against civilians in Jerusalem and the West Bank. We respectfully request a briefing to our committees on your assessment of the likelihood of success of Israel’s current military strategy. We ask this briefing address Israel’s publicly outlined mission, current operational and political effectiveness of Hamas, readiness of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as well as impacts to ongoing hostage release efforts and the civilian population. We must also understand how current strategy will impact the political and diplomatic framework to establish a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, the only path to lasting peace. Furthermore, we request an assessment of how Israel and the United States are addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Congress must ensure defensive aid to our ally is provided in tandem with the necessary humanitarian supplies to mitigate the already catastrophic impacts to civilians. We must ensure the continued and consistent supply of food, medical supplies, fuel, and restoration of critical utilities to sustain humanitarian response efforts. Secure aid delivery to Palestinian civilians is critical, and we must understand how we may bolster successful aid distribution as Israel’s offensive continues and Hamas continues to intentionally accept civilian risk, injuries, and deaths.”

Targeting Free Speech/Activism/Criticism of Israel

  • 12/7/23: Reschenthaler Leads Call for Termination of Penn President Liz Magill (letter text) — letter signed by 6 Republican House members from Pennsylvania: “…as members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation, we urge you and the Board of Trustees to relieve President Magill of her duties as president of the university…she has shown the university and the entire world that she is either incapable or unwilling to combat antisemitism on the university’s campus and take care of its student body. As such, we respectfully call on you to relieve President Magill of her duties as president to protect the lives of Jewish American students at the University of Pennsylvania.” [Her sins: allowing the Palestine Writes Literature festival to take place; failing to shut down campus free speech in support of Palestinian rights after 10/7/23; failing to adequately demonize/delegitimize campus free speech during her appearance in a Senate show-hearing this week]
  • 12/7/23: House E&C, Senate Commerce Republicans Question Eventbrite over Seemingly Inconsistent Enforcement of Community Guidelines (letter text) — excerpt from list of questions for which the letter demands answers: “…(6) Why are pro-Hamas and antisemitic events allowed on Eventbrite? (7) Does Eventbrite allow terrorist organizations to use Eventbrite to, among other things, organize? (8) What list do you use to identify terrorist organizations? a. If there is a conflict between the list you use and U.S. Government lists, how do you reconcile such a conflict? (9) Do pro-terrorist and antisemitic events and event speakers violate Eventbrite’s prohibition of content that would ‘discriminate against, harass, disparage, threaten, incite violence against, or otherwise target individuals or groups based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, national origin.…’? (10) Please provide information on what metrics Eventbrite uses to enforce its Community Guidelines on selected issues such as terrorism and antisemitism. (11) How many flags or complaints did Eventbrite receive for the Gaines event versus the events described above promoting antisemitism and terrorism? Compare the timeline, processes, and approval authorities for Eventbrite’s review of these events.”
  • 12/5/23: Crapo, Risch, Cassidy Sound Alarm on Resurgence of BDS Movement Threatening Israel’s Right to Exist (letter text – to US Department of Labor) – “On October 8, the day after Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, killed 1,400 Israelis, and kidnapped at least 203 people, most of whom were civilians, anti-Israel activists flocked to rallies at college campuses across the United States where speakers and attendees openly celebrated these brutal attacks. We are deeply concerned that, in this environment of unrest, there is likely to be a resurgence in the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which will be used to economically harm and delegitimize the state of Israel…The American people must be confident that pension investors will not override the economic goals, or personal views, of beneficiaries to pursue their own political agenda. Therefore, in order to understand DOL’s approach to this potential problem, we request you answer the following questions, on a question-by-question basis, by January 2, 2024: 1. What effect does the Biden rule have on retirement plan  trustees/fiduciaries considering BDS (a factor unlikely to relate to benefitting plan beneficiaries) when evaluating potential investments? 2. What steps, if any, would DOL’s EBSA take to investigate complaints regarding BDS-informed investment strategies using teachers’ pensions? 3. Has DOL’s EBSA received any complaints regarding BDS-informed investment strategies using teachers’ pensions? If so, how many? And, from which university? 4. Does DOL plan to publish any proactive guidance or technical assistance to discourage trustees/fiduciaries from capitulating to the BDS movement and improperly imposing their own political viewpoints on plan beneficiaries? If so, when do you anticipate releasing such guidance or technical assistance?…” Also see Cassidy press release: Today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and 14 Republican colleagues raised concerns with the Biden administration over the resurgence of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses to economically harm Israel and threaten Israel’s right to exist as a nation. Additionally, the senators raised the issue that Biden’s 2022 environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) rule could empower left-wing activists to insert BDS policies into retirement plans, politicizing Americans’ retirement savings with the intention of hurting Israel.” Also see:  Fifteen senators warn Biden’s ESG push could empower university activists to ‘weaponize’ Americans’ retirement plans as anti-Israel BDS movement gains traction on campuses (Daily Mail 12/5/23)
  • 12/4/23: Blackburn Requests Answers On Report That UNRWA Teacher Held Israeli Hostage (letter text) — “The United States will not be complicit in propping up Hamas’ terrorism, and this report further proves why deep change is necessary within UNRWA before we even consider providing another dollar to the agency. Additionally, it is deeply concerning that, despite the prevalence of these reports, the United Nations has seemingly done nothing to investigate or prevent the siphoning of UNRWA funding by terrorists. And UNRWA continues to double down on its claims that each subsequent, documented report is ‘unsubstantiated.’ By December 18, please provide answers to the following questions: 1. Was the captor referenced in Almog Boker’s report a current or former employee of UNRWA? 2. Has the alleged incident been thoroughly investigated by UNRWA? If yes, please describe that investigation and your findings in detail. If no, please state why not. 3. Has the alleged incident been thoroughly investigated by the UN? If yes, please describe that investigation and your findings in detail. If no, please state why not. 4. What is UNRWA’s process for ensuring their employees are not simultaneously working with Hamas or other terrorist organizations? Please provide specific details about how employees are screened for affiliations with terrorist organizations. 5. What is UNRWA’s process for ensuring that its facilities are not used to support terrorist activities? 6. The ‘2023-2024 U.S.-UNRWA Framework for Cooperation’ states that ‘UNRWA commits to take all possible measures to ensure funding provided by the United States to UNRWA does not provide assistance to, or otherwise support, terrorists or terrorist organizations.’ Please explain in detail what measures UNRWA is taking pursuant to the Framework to prevent the diversion of humanitarian assistance to terrorist organizations.  7. Has the UN investigated any prior reports about the potential links between UNRWA and terrorist organizations such as Hamas? If yes, please describe those investigations and your findings in detail. If no, please state why not. 8. What types of oversight does the UN provide over UNRWA? Please document the specific processes you have put into place to ensure UNRWA personnel, facilities, and resources are not used to support terrorists or terrorist organizations.
  • 12/1/23: Rep. Morgan Luttrell Demands Accountability for VA Employee Mocking Israeli Hostages (letter text) – “We write to share our strong concerns regarding Shakeba Morrad, a United States Attorney at the Office of the General Counsel for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs who shared a video in which she displayed antisemitic behavior. We are requesting an immediate update on the investigation and any disciplinary actions taken.” From the Breitbart article: “In a snippet of the video, which was originally posted on her Instagram account, she says with a mocking voice, ‘We just want our hostages back, give us our 200 hostages!‘”

Targeting Iran/Iran Policy


3. Hearings & Markups

12/13/23: The House Financial Services Commitee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled, “Moving the Money Part 2: Getting Answers from the Biden Administration on the Iranian Regime’s Support of Terrorism (hearing memo).” Announced witnesses (so far) are: Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary of State for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes; and Abram Paley, State Department Deputy Special Envoy to Iran.

12/12/23: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe will hold a show-hearing entitled, Addressing the Scourge of Anti-Semitism in Europe.  Witnesses – representing a spectrum of views/orgs that are in total agreement when it comes to the imperative of conflating criticism of Israel/rejection of Zionism with antisemitism, and enforcing policies/laws designed to focus explicitly on suppressing and eradicating this supposed antisemitism — will be: Elan Carr, Israeli-American Council; Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Simon Wiesenthal Center/U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Matthew Levitt, WINEP; and Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, American Jewish Committee Europe.

12/12/23: The House Financial Services Commitee’s National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions Subcommitee will hold a hearing entitled, Resticting Rogue-State Revenue: Strengthening Energy Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and Venezuela (hearing memo). Scheduled witnesses are Marshall Billingslea, Hudson Institute;  Anna Mikulska, Kleiman Center for Energy Policy at University of Pennsylvania; Ryan Berg, CSIS; Claire Jungman, Against Nuclear Iran; and Adam Smith, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Legislation to be considered in the context of that hearing:

  • HR 6605, the “Stop Terrorism and Illicit Finance Location Exploitation (STIFLE) Act of 2023”
  • HR ___, “Countering Cyber Crimes Act of 2023” [PDF]
  • HR 6588, the “International Financial Institution Counter Terrorism Accountability Act”
  • HR 6589, the “Prevent the Financing of Terrorism through the Drug Trade Act”
  • HR _______, the “Strengthening Financial Crimes Enforcement Act” [PDF]

12/6/23: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “Transnational Repression: Authoritarians Targeting Dissenters Abroad.” Scheduled witnesses are: Christo Grozev, Investigative Journalist, Co-Founder, Bellingcat Productions (statement); Michael Abramowitz, Freedom House (statement); and Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, International Legal Counsel to Jimmy Lai (statement). Also see: hearing video

12/5/23: The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a grandstanding anti-free speech extravaganze entitled, “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.” Witnesses were: Claudine Gay, President, Harvard University (statement);  Liz Magill, President, University of Pennsylvania (statement); Pamela Nadell, Professor of History and Jewish Studies, American University (statement); and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (statement). Also see: Chairwoman Foxx’s (R-NC) opening statement; video of the hearing. NOTE: I’m not going to run down the details of this farce of a hearing – you can watch it for yourself and/or review the articles below. The bottom line is that the message of this hearing, from members of Congress, was that there is an expectation – indeed, a demand – that universities treat criticism of Israel and calls for Palestinian rights as a form of violent threats to Jewish students — and act accordingly to suppress and punish it, including changing campus free speech codes if necessary. None of the university presidents in any serious way pushed back on this framing, even as they (weakly) sought to defend themselves. And since the hearing, 2 of the 3 presidents have publicly walked back even their weak defenes of campus free speech (and at least one is reportedly going to be asked to resign — not for failing to defend students’ free speech but for failing to adequately demonize and attack it).

NOTE: On 12/7/23, in the wake of this travesty of a hearing, Chairwoman Foxx issued a press release redolent in its language and mission of the heady days of McCarthyism (see legislation covered in Section 1, above, for more on this): Foxx Announces Formal Investigation into Harvard, UPenn, and MIT — “The testimony we received earlier this week from Presidents Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth about the responses of Harvard, UPenn, and MIT to the rampant antisemitism displayed on their campuses by students and faculty was absolutely unacceptable. Committee members have deep concerns with their leadership and their failure to take steps to provide Jewish students the safe learning environment they are due under law. Given those institutional and personal failures, the Committee is opening a formal investigation into the learning environments at Harvard, UPenn, and MIT and their policies and disciplinary procedures. This investigation will include substantial document requests, and the Committee will not hesitate to utilize compulsory measures including subpoenas if a full response is not immediately forthcoming [emphasis added]. The disgusting targeting and harassment of Jewish students is not limited to these institutions, and other universities should expect investigations as well, as their litany of similar failures has not gone unnoticed.”

Also see:


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements



Targeting Free Speech/Free Thought/Education/Protest

Other stuff