Legislative Round-Up- April 12, 2024

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

New from FMEP:

  • 4/12/24: FMEP webinar, RESIGNED: The Former Biden Admin Officials Who Left Their Jobs Over Gaza, ft. Tariq Habash, former official at the U.S. Department of Education, Josh Paul, former official at the U.S. Department of State, and Annelle Sheline, former official at the  U.S. Department of State, in conversation with FMEP Fellow Rania Batrice [starting at 2pm EST 4/12/24]
  • 4/5/24: New episode of FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts podcast, “Incitement, Displacement, Destruction, Willful Flouting of International Law”: Israel’s Assault on Al Shifa Hospital, ft. 2023 FMEP Fellow Dr. Yara Asi in conversation with FMEP’s Dr. Sarah Anne Minkin to discuss Israel’s March 2024 attack on Al Shifa hospital, the largest and most important medical center in Gaza, known as the heart of the healthcare system in the Gaza Strip.


1. Bills & Resolutions

(ENFORCING IHRA DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM ACROSS THE WHOLE-OF-GOVT) S. 4091/HR 7921 (bill text): Introduced in the Senate 4/9/24 by Rosen (D-NV) and Lankford (R-OK), and in the House 4/10/24 by Manning (R-NC) and Smith (R-NJ), the “Combating Antisemitism Act.” In the Senate referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; in the House referred to the Committees on the Judiciary, Education and the Workforce, Homeland Security, Oversight and Accountability, and Transportation and Infrastructure. Also see: Senate press release – Rosen, Lankford, Manning, Smith Introduce Comprehensive Bipartisan Bill to Take Historic Action to Counter Antisemitism in the U.S. & House press release – Manning, Smith, Rosen, Lankford Introduce Comprehensive Bipartisan Bill to Take Historic Action to Counter Antisemitism in the U.S. The press releases include statements of support/endorsement from the ADL, AJC, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations; in addition, groups endorsing and/or lobbying in support of the legislation include: the ADL (statement, action alert), AJC (statement, action alert), JFNA, World Jewish Congress, and the Nexus Project.

Notably, this extraordinarily far-reaching bipartisan, bicameral legislation, which would impact every Federal agency and beyond, and which is framed as an effort to support implementation of Biden’s antisemitism strategy, in actuality centers on legislating & enforcing the IHRA definition of antisemitism — in direct contradiction to the Biden Administration’s decision to NOT center/endorse/enforce the IHRA definition of antisemitism as part of its antisemitism strategy:

  • It includes an overarching Sense of Congress that the IHRA definition of antisemitism (cited by name) “should be utilized by Federal, State, and 20 local agencies” [it does not mention the IHRA definition’s examples but IHRA backers consistently interpret any mention of the IHRA definition as implicitly including the examples].
  • It includes an overarching statement defining antisemitism according to the definition included “in section 3 of the 25 Never Again Education Act (36 U.S.C. 2301 note)” — which is, in fact, the text of the IHRA definition (without mentioning its source and without listing its examples).
  • It defines “relevant agencies” that, under this legislation, would be expected to use/enforce the IHRA definition, to include the, FBI and DOJ (for all those who keep insisting that the IHRA definition is “not legally-binding”)
  • It requires a report to Congress on online antisemitism — as defined per the Sense of Congress, by the IHRA definition — and recommendations for how Congress can fight it — a report that will be used to legitimize and fuel online censorship of criticism of Israel/Zionism, especially on social media (consistent with the longstanding efforts of many of the groups backing this legislation).
  • It includes a lengthy section entitled “Countering Antisemitic Discrimination in Higher Education.” This section is devoted to weaponizing Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Antisemitism. As a reminder, that EO centers on enforcing the IHRA definition, including its examples, as part of Title VI, as a means of repressing/punishing/chilling criticism and activism targeting Israel and/or Zionism on U.S. campuses. In effect, this bill in general, and this section in particular, would pour gasoline on the fire that has already been set by congressional Republicans as they target US universities, as well as on the fire that has been set by lawfare actors waging all-out warfare with lawsuits and Title VI complaints against US campuses for failing to repress and punish pro-Palestinian activism (see table tracking these efforts)
  • My twitter thread laying out this analysis is here.
  • With respect to backing of this legislation from some groups that in theory have stood against the conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism — who are now arguing that S. 4091/HR 7921 should be supported because the alternatives are much worse, this brings to mind a favorite saying of US policymakers: “don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good” — a phrase I learned when I worked at the State Department, that was invoked exclusively when the US was doing something that clearly violated its own stated values or positions.
  • Also see media coverage — all of which, either out of laziness/ignorance or deliberate political spin — basically repeat the press releases issued in support of these bills, rather than offering any analysis of what is really going on here; though to be fair, the text of the bill was not widely circulating this week, suggesting that much media reporting was, indeed, relying totally on the press releases, rather than bothering to insist on reading/analyzing the actual bill text —  NBC, CNN, Jerusalem Post, Jewish Insider

(LEGISLATING THE IHRA DEFINITION) HR 7945 (bill text): Introduced 4/11/24 by D’Esposito (R-NY) and 3 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To provide a definition of antisemitism for the enforcement of covered civil rights laws,” aka, the “the Define to Defeat Act.” Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary, Oversight and Accountability, and Education and the Workforce. Also see: press release – Congressman D’Esposito Introduces Define to Defeat Act, Bringing Clarity to Legal Definition of Antisemitism; New York Congressman introduces bill to federally apply IHRA definition of antisemitism (Jerusalem Post 4/11/24). This bill would mandate that the “legally non-binding” IHRA definition of antisemitism — including its examples — be used (a) in any anti-discrimination training and education materials or modules made available by any federal departments or agencies; (b) in instructions to the jury in any Federal criminal or civil action that involves [allegations of] antisemitism; (c) “In reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether there has been a violation of a covered civil rights law on the basis of race, religion, color, ethnicity, or national origin, based on an individual’s actual or perceived connection to an aspect of Jewish identity, each Federal department and agency conducting such review or investigation or making such decision shall take into consideration whether the potential violation was motivated, in whole or in part, by antisemitism.” NOTE: see my pinned tweet — “The battle over the IHRA definition of antisemitism, in a nutshell: ‘you have to define it to fight it’ = ‘you have to define all meaningful criticism of Israel/its policies/ Zionism as ‘antisemitism’ in order to suppress it, because we can’t win the arguments otherwise.’NOTE: the introduction of this bill has potential implications for S. 4091/HR 7921 (discussed above), including: (Scenario 1) House Republicans seek to merge HR 7945 with HR 7921, in effect replacing what some (inaccurately) see as HR 7921’s “soft” legislating of the IHRA definition with HR 7945’s explicit legislating of the IHRA definition (as a reminder, Indiana’s governor recently VETOED a bill legislating the text of the IHRA definition because the bill did not explicitly cite IHRA as the source and did not explicitly include IHRA’s examples); and (Scenario 2) Backers of S 4091/HR 7921 use HR 7921 as an argument for why their bill should be widely embraced as the reasonable approach vs HR 7945’s seemingly harder-line framing.

(NO PRESSURE ON ISRAEL!) H. Res. 1117: Introduced 4/10/24 by Salazar (R-FL) and 26 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Opposing efforts to place one-sided pressure on Israel with respect to Gaza.” This resolution was brought to the Rules Committee 4/9/24 en route to the House floor — see Rules Committee Chairman Cole’s (R-OK) statement on the resolution. Also see amendment offered by Ogles (R-TN), seeking to replace the term “one-sided” wherever it appears in the resolution with “any” — that is, saying out loud the quiet part of this resolution, which is that backers oppose any US pressure on Israel.  Also see: statement from Americans for Peace Now laying out objections to the resolution, including:  “House Republicans are again using straw-man arguments to make a show of support for the Netanyahu government. The Hamas attack on October 7 was horrific and there is and can be no rationale to defend it. And Israel is and was entitled to self-defense. Neither President Biden nor anyone in the administration has ever suggested otherwise.”; House to vote on resolution against ‘efforts to place one-sided pressure on Israel with respect to Gaza’ [“The resolution criticizes the U.S. president’s recent call with the Israeli prime minister and a U.N. Security Council vote, which passed when Washington held its veto and abstained.“] (Jewish News Syndicate 4/8/24); House Republicans to bring resolution supporting Israel to vote (Jerusalem Post 4/10/24). On 4/10/24, House leadership sought to bring H. Res. 1117 and a group of other bills/resolutions to the House floor for a vote, which required first bringing to the floor H. Res. 1125, the Rule passed by the Rules committee providing for floor consideration of the various measures. That resolution was defeated by a vote of 193-228 (no Democrats voted yes, and 19 Republicans joined Democrats in voting no), preventing further floor action on the measures (for the time being at least)

(DEFENDING ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DO ANYTHING IT WANTS IN THE NAME OF ‘SELF-DEFENSE) S. Res. XXX (resolution text): On 4/9/24, Sen. Lankford issued a press release announcing that he was joining with Sen. Scott (R-SC) in introducing this resolution, “Expressing the sense of the Senate that Israel has the inherent right to defend itself and take necessary steps to eradicate the terrorist threat posed by Hamas.” [Not in the Congressional Record as of 4/12/24]

(TARGETING QATAR) S. 4093 (bill text): Introduced 4/10/24 by Budd (R-NC) and 2 Republican co-sponsors, “A bill to review and consider terminating the designation of the State of Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, and for other purposes,” aka the Reviewing Qatar’s Major Non- NATO Ally Status Act.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Also see: Budd’s 4/9/24 press release: “…The bill would require the Secretary of State to certify the following: It is in the national interest of the United States for Qatar to maintain its designation as a major non-NATO ally; Qatar has exerted any and all leverage it has over Hamas to secure the release of United States hostages from Gaza; Qatar does not directly or indirectly support, financially or otherwise, acts of international terrorism or foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas; and Qatar has expelled or agreed to extradite to the United States any individuals determined to be members of Hamas, including Ismail Haniyeh,  Khalil al-Hayya, Khaled Mashal, and any other individuals bearing responsibility for the terror attack on October 7, 2023.  If the Secretary of State cannot make this certification in good faith, then the President is required to immediately terminate the designation of the State of Qatar as a major non-NATO ally.” Also see: Senate Republicans push bill that could revoke Qatar’s major non-NATO ally status (Jewish Insider 4/10/24)

(TARGETING “POPULAR RESISTANCE COMMITTEES IN GAZA & LION’S DEN IN WEST BANK) HR 7914 (bill text): Introduced 4/9/24 by Sherman (D-CA) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, the “Accountability for Terrorist Perpetrators of October 7th Act.”  Sherman press release – Sherman, Kustoff, McCaul, and Schneider Introduce “Accountability for Terrorist Perpetrators of October 7th Act” Targeting Shadow Gaza Militant Group. Also see: House members propose sanctions on “under the radar” Gaza militant group (Axios 4/9/24); Bipartisan House bill seeks to formally designate third-largest Gaza terror group (Jewish News Syndicate 4/9/24)

(BLOCKING IRAN DIPLOMACY) HR 7950 (bill text): Introduced 4/11/24 by Good (R-VA) and 4 cosponsors (all Republicans), the “Iran China Accountability Act of 2024.’’ Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: House Bill Would Bar Biden Admin From Spending Taxpayer Dollars on Diplomacy To Advance Iran Nuclear Deal –Rep. Bob Good proposes bill to block Iran diplomacy until it severs cash ties to China and ends Hamas support (Free Beacon 4/11/24)

(SUPPORTING FUNDING FOR NON-PROFIT SECURITY GRANTS -NSG) H. Res. 1114: Introduced 4/6/24 by Gottheimer (D-NJ), “Denouncing the rise of Islamophobia and antisemitism across the country.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The resolution includes “whereas” clauses specifically noting the murder of 6-year-old Palestinian American Wadee Alfayoumi, the shooting in Vermont of  three Palestinian-American college students Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid,, and Tahseen Ali Ahma; and the death of Paul Kessler, who died from injuries sustained at an Israel rally “during an altercation between protesters and counterprotesters.” The resolution goes on to note the rise in hate crimes, etc, and resolves that: “(1) all have the freedom to express their race, ethnicity, and religion in whatever way they believe; (2) the rise in hate crimes, Islamophobia, and antisemitism is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated; (3) social media companies and executives must do more to counter and limit the propaganda and violent rhetoric expressed across their platforms; and (4) nonprofit security grants are crucial to protect and ensure houses of worship and other nonprofit institutions have the security and resources they need.” Also see: RELEASE: Gottheimer Resolution Denounces Rise of Antisemitism and Islamophobia Across the Nation

(ONE TO WATCH): S. 4106: Introduced 4/10/24 by Ernst (R-IA) and 6 cosponsors (all Republicans, “A bill to affirm and protect the First Amendment rights of students and student organizations at public institutions of higher education.”  Referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


2. Letters

[SUPPORTING HUMANITARIAN AID FOR GAZA] 4/11/24: Congressman Carter Restates Support for Humanitarian Aid in Gaza [letter text]. “Today, Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-LA) led 13 Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Biden, reiterating their support for humanitarian aid during the crisis in the Middle East.”

[TARGETING ACADEMIA, AGAIN] 4/11/24: Stefanik Demands Accountability from Harvard for Failing to Reprimand Antisemitic Students who Assaulted Jewish Student [letter text]. Also see: Stefanik Blasts Harvard for Failure to Discipline Students Who Allegedly Assaulted Israeli Classmate (National Review 4/11/24)

[SUPPORTING HUMANITARIAN AID THAT ENABLES CONTINUED ISRAELI ACTIONS IN GAZA] 4/11/24: Meng, Pappas, and Schneider Lead Letter Supporting Cyprus-Led Maritime Humanitarian Aid Corridor  [letter text] [“Today, U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Brad Schneider (D-IL), leaders in the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance, and Abraham Accords Caucus, led a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan expressing support for the Cyprus-led Amalthea maritime humanitarian corridor to increase the amount of humanitarian aid reaching Palestinian civilians in Gaza, as well as continued efforts to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas to release remaining hostages in exchange for a temporary pause in fighting.”]

[TARGETING QATAR] 4/8/24: Comer Threatens to Subpoena Documents About DOJ’s Failure to Enforce TikTok and Al Jazeera’s FARA Compliance [text of  letter to US Attorney General from House Oversight & Accountability Committee]. Excerpt: “Al Jazeera journalists are increasingly being linked to Hamas-backed attacks, and Qatar has reportedly hosted a Hamas headquarters in Doha, paying the terrorist group $30 million per month since 2018.” Qatar’s embassy in Washington, DC responded with an X-post: “Qatar does not pay Hamas. In full coordination with the Government of Israel, Qatar has contributed humanitarian assistance in Gaza since 2018. This assistance takes two forms: 1. Since 2018, Qatar funded fuel purchases from Israel to supply a Gaza power station to generate electricity in Gaza, under the supervision of the United Nations Office of Project Services. The Israeli Government controlled all fuel transfers at the Gaza border. 2. Since August 2021, Qatar funded a project administered by the World Food Programme to provide $100 per month to the poorest families in Gaza. The Israeli Government maintained oversight over the list of recipients. Notably, Qatar did not administer the distribution of this assistance, which was the responsibility of the United Nations and the World Food Programme, under the supervision of the State of Israel. Israel encouraged and strongly supported Qatar’s contributions...” Also see: Documents show Israel sought, valued Qatari aid for Gaza in years leading to Oct. 7 (Times of Israel 3/24/24); TikTok Foreign Agent Designation Pressed by Key House Republican (Bloomberg 4/8/24)

[WORK FOR RELEASE OF MY DEAR FRIEND ELIZABETH TSURKOV, KIDNAPPED IN IRAQ] 4/8/24: Rep. Raskin Leads Letter to Biden Administration Urging Continued Negotiation for Release of PhD Candidate Kidnapped in Iraq [letter text not posted] Also see: Lawmakers urge Biden to help free Princeton researcher kidnapped in Iraq (Al-Monitor 4/8/24); US lawmakers press White House to secure release of Israeli researcher kidnapped in Iraq (Times of Israel 4/9/24)

[WITHHOLD WEAPONS FOR ISRAEL] 4/5/24: Pocan, McGovern, Schakowsky Urge Biden, Blinken to Withhold Weapons Transfers After Humanitarian Aid Workers Killed [letter text] — 56 signers as of 4/8/24. Also see: Israel, Ukraine aid unclear as growing number of Dems oppose Israel aid (Jewish Insider 4/8/24); Pelosi joins US Democrats call for Biden to halt arms transfer to Israel (Al Jazeera 4/6/24); Pelosi joins call by 37 Democrats for Biden to halt transfer of US weapons to Israel (Times of Israel 4/6/24); Democratic Congressional calls to halt arms sales to Israel picks up steam  (Jerusalem Post 4/10/24)

[TARGETING WORLD VISION] 4/5/24: Grassley letter to World Vision President/CEO demanding “an unredacted copy of the forensic audit and investigation of World Vision’s Gaza operation” in connection with Israel’s conviction of a World Vision employee, Muhammed Halabi, of funneling World Vision funds to Hamas. Reminder: World Vision’s investigation “found no evidence of diversion of funds and no material evidence that El Halabi was part of or working for Hamas.” Israel arrested Halabi in 2016 and held him in jail for SIX YEARS before convicting him in what Amnesty International deemed “deeply flawed proceedings” and sentencing him to an additional 12 years in jail. Amnesty International, which categorizes Halabi as a prisoner of conscience, notes: “Mohammed was tried in secret hearings, during which the Beersheba District Court completely disregarded abundant evidence clearing him of any wrongdoing. His conviction was largely based on the testimony of a prisoner informant who had previously been found guilty of perjury, as well as so-called ‘secret evidence’ which neither Mohammed nor his lawyer were allowed to access. Israeli authorities have failed to investigate Mohammed al-Halabi’s 2018 complaint of torture and other ill-treatment while under interrogation by the Shabak. In a demonstration of personal integrity and resilience, Mohammed refused numerous plea bargain offers which would have given him a commuted sentence in exchange for ‘confessing’ to charges which he vehemently denies.”

[ADL URGES APPROPRIATORS TO FUND PRIORITIES, INCL ENFORCING IHRA DEFINITION ON US CAMPUSES] 4/4/24: ADL Letter to Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate regarding Fiscal Year 2025 Appropriations


3. Hearings & Markups

Part 1: Samantha Power on the Hot Seat — This week USAID Director Samantha Power testified multiple times in hearings in both the House and Senate. These hearings were ostensibly about USAID’s 2025 budget request, but in actual fact they were occasions for members of the House and Senate to either attack or defend the Biden Administration’s foreign policies. Unsurprisingly, this included a whole lotta focus on Israel, Gaza, and UNRWA. Information about and highlights of those hearings are included below; for more details, watch the hearings for yourself, or in the few cases where the committee was nice enough to activate the “transcript” feature on YouTube, you can read that – but beware of transcription errors (like YouTube consistently transcribing “UNRWA” and “unra”).
April 9, 2024: The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations held a hearing entitled, A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request for the U.S. Agency for International Development. The sole witness was USAID Administrator Samantha Power (testimony). Also see: hearing video; Murry (D-WA) press release – At Hearing on USAID Budget, Senator Murray Discusses Importance of Our Investments in International Development—and of Urgently Getting More Aid into Gaza;
April 10, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “FY2025 United States Agency for International Development Budget Request.” The sole witness was USAID Administrator Samantha Power (testimony not posted).  Also see: Hearing video; Risch (R-ID) opening statement; Durbin (D-IL) press release – Durbin Questions USAID Administrator Powers on Delivery of Humanitarian Aid to Gaza [video]
April 10, 2024: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled, “USAID’s Foreign Policy and International Development Priorities in the Era of Great Power Competition.” The sole witness was USAID Administrator Samantha Power (statement). Also see video plus a full transcript is available on YouTube. Also see McCaul (R-TX) press release – Chairman McCaul Delivers Remarks at Hearing with USAID Administrator Power
Selected media related to these hearings:
Part 2: Other Hearings
April 9, 2024: The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled, To receive testimony on the Department of Defense budget request for Fiscal Year 2025 and the Future Years Defense Program. Witnesses were: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (statement);Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Michael McCord (no writtent statement available); and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. (statement). Also see:
April 9, 2024: The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled, An Update from the Treasury Department: Countering Illicit Finance, Terrorism and Sanctions Evasion. The sole witness was Department of Treasury Deputy Secretary Adewale O. Adeyemo (statement – including discussion of Hamas). Also see: opening statements from Brown (D-OH) and Scott (R-SC); hearing video; Treasury’s Wally Adeyemo: Legislation needed to cut off Iran, Hamas crypto pipeline (Jewish Insider 4/10/24)
April 10, 2024: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations held a hearing entitled, The Chinese Communist Party’s Malign Influence at the United Nations — It’s Getting Worse. This hearing in theory had nothing to do with issues covered by the Round-Up, and yet… Chairman Smith raised the US decisions to withdraw UNESCO funding (due to the admission of the Palestinians) and to launch a lengthy attack on UNRWA — because of course he did [see hearing video, 1:41:28 – 1:43:49]. Manning (R-NC) followed up with her own attack in UNRWA — because of course she did (2:00:21 – 2:02:29 in the video), followed by pandering responses from the panel of witnesses, including: Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Suzanne Nossel in effect speaking out in support of shifting US funding for Palestinians to another UN agency; and Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation President Ambassador Andrew Bremberg weighing in (with snark/sarcasm) appearing to suggest that UNRWA should have been defunded and disbanded years ago.
April 11, 2024: The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies held a hearing entitled, Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The sole witness was FBI Director Christopher Wray (statement).  In his statement, Wray commented: “While we assist our Israeli colleagues and we understand the global implications of the ongoing conflict in Israel, we are paying heightened attention to how the events abroad could directly affect and inspire people to commit violence here in the Homeland. Terrorist organizations worldwide, as well as individuals attracted to violence, have praised Hamas’ horrific attack on Israeli civilians. We have seen violent extremists across ideologies seeking to target Jewish and Muslim people and institutions through physical assaults, bomb threats, and online calls for mass casualty attacks. Our top concern stems from lone offenders inspired by—or reacting to—the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, as they pose the most likely threat to Americans, especially Jewish, Muslim, and Arab-American communities in the United States. We have seen an increase in reported threats to Jewish and Muslim people, institutions, and houses of worship here in the United States and we are moving quickly to mitigate them, Presently, we have no information to indicate that Hamas has the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the United States, though we cannot, and do not, discount that possibility, but we are especially concerned about the possibility of Hamas supporters engaging in violence on the group’s behalf. As always, we are concerned with any FTO that may exploit the attacks in Israel as a tool to mobilize their followers around the world. In recent years, there have been several events and incidents in the United States that were purportedly motivated, at least in part, by the conflict between Israel and Hamas. These have included the targeting of individuals, houses of worship, and institutions associated with the Jewish and Muslim faiths with acts of physical assault, vandalism, or harassment. Anti-Semitism and anti-Islamic sentiment permeate many violent extremist ideologies and serve as a primary driver for attacks by a diverse set of violent extremists who pose a persistent threat to Jewish and Muslim communities and institutions in the United States and abroad. FTOs have exploited previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas via media outlets and online communications to call on their supporters located in the United States to conduct attacks. Some violent extremists have used times of heightened tensions to incite violence against religious minorities, targeting both Jewish and Muslim Americans. [emphasis added].
April 16, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a business meeting to consider a long list of State Department nominations, as well as to markup a number of bills, including:
  • S. 1829, Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum Act of 2023
  • S. 3874, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2024
  • S. 2626, MAHSA Act [also see: In reversal, Senate Foreign Relations to take up MAHSA Act Iran sanctions (Jewish Insider 3/29/24)
  • S. 2336, Making Iran Sanctions Stick In Lieu of Expiration of Sanctions Act
  • S. Res. 505, A resolution condemning the use of sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war by the terrorist group Hamas against the people of Israel.
April 17, 2024: The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing entitled, Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University’s Response to Antisemitism. Witnesses (so far) will be: Dr. Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, President, Columbia University; Ms. Claire Shipman, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University; and Mr. David Greenwald, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University. Also see: Columbia University leaders to get grilled by Congress at antisemitism hearing (CNN 3/12/24); Columbia University leaders to testify before Congress on campus antisemitism (Jewish Insider 3/12/24); Columbia university president to testify about campus antisemitism (Jewish News Syndicate 3/13/24) NOTE: The decision by officials of Columbia University to voluntarily subject themselves to what will be another grandstanding, anti-academia witch hunt is just mind-boggling.  Truly. Though to get a sense in advance of how this hearing may go, Columbia student engaged in activism in support of Palestinian rights report this week that they are facing a crackdown at the hands of the Columbia University administration [also see: Four Columbia students suspended, evicted from University housing following unauthorized ‘Resistance 101’ event (Columbia Spectator 4/5/24); Columbia Suspends 6 Students Amid Crackdown on Palestinian Solidarity Activism (Democracy Now 4/5/24); Shafik confirms suspensions following ‘Resistance 101’ event as Columbia works to identify protest participants (Columbia Spectator 4/5/24)
April 17, 2024: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittees on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia and Europe will convene a hearing entitled, “The Despotic Duo: Russo-Iranian Cooperation and Threats to U.S. Interests. Witnesses–representing a spectrum of like-minded hardline pro-Israel organizations–will be: Behnam Ben Taleblu (FDD); Gabriel Noronha (JINSA); and Dana L. Stroul (WINEP).

4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

Recess Travel

AIPAC website: House Republicans visit Israel with AIEF, including video testimonials from Israel recorded by 15 House Republicans – Yakim (R-IN), Ciscomani (R-AZ), Fitzgerald (R-WI), Langworthy (R-WI), Kiggans (R-VA), Maloy (R-UT), Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR – 2 videos), Burlison (R-MO), Kean (R-NJ), Strong (R-AL), Crane (R-AZ), Fry (R-SC), Alford (R-MO), Bean (R-FL), Van Orden (D-WI). Background on AIEF (from the 8/15/19 edition of the Round-Up):

What is AIEF & What is its Relationship with AIPAC?
On its (single page, no links) website, AIEF describes itself as “the charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC, America’s pro-Israel lobby.”  The website of The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation (“MFF”) gives more details
[that page has been taken down, but can still be viewed here], noting that AIEF both makes annual grants to directly to AIPAC for its programs and “funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and other political influentials.” [For further fun reading about Adam Milstein’s activism and funding activities related to Israel, see here.]

Why is travel to Israel with AIEF, rather than AIPAC?
To understand why AIEF, rather than AIPAC, is at least nominally the organization taking members on these trips, see this excellent Roll Call article from 9/9/11 examining what (back in the post-Abramoff era, when Congress was clamping down on lobbying) was widely referred to on the Hill as the “Aipac loophole): Members Flock to Israel With Travel Loophole (a loophole which is exploited today by other groups as well). In a piece from 2014, the Atlantic further explained the AIEF-AIPAC relationship and this loophole:

“…the foundation hardly lacks an agenda. It shares staff, money, and an address with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel group that employs a dozen lobbyists and spends more than $2 million annually on lobbying. As a lobbying organization, AIPAC itself isn’t allowed to plan and pay for congressional excursions abroad. Yet its shadow foundation has received the blessing of congressional ethics enforcers despite the fact that its 2011 tax filings spell out: “The foundation does not have any employees. The foundation utilizes AIPAC employees.” AIPAC even pays the $464,000 salary of Richard Fishman, the foundation’s executive director—the man who signs the congressional travel forms.”

So are these trips AIPAC trips?
By having AIEF act as the official funder and convener of these trips, legally AIPAC and others can claim that they are not, in fact, AIPAC trips. And while this technically may be accurate, members of Congress and staffers consistently refer to such travel, year after year, as “the AIPAC trip” – with regular conversation about who is going on the “AIPAC trip” and who went on the last “AIPAC trip,” and who people met with or where they stayed on the “AIPAC trip” – a fact noted in the Atlantic’s 2014 article: “‘Everyone understood it to be an AIPAC trip,’ said a freshman representative who joined last August’s excursion and was granted anonymity to speak candidly.’” Media likewise often seems to forget to make the distinction between AIPAC and AIEF (e.g., the Jerusalem Post 8/11/19: AIPAC bipartisan delegation to Israel meets Jewish, Arab entrepreneurs; Jewish Insider 6/14/19: AIPAC’s congressional trip to Israel leaves in August. Here’s who’s going).

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 4/6/24: Gottheimer Leads Official House Intelligence Committee Trip to Qatar and Egypt [“Meets with Senior Officials Negotiating Release of the Hostages. Highlights Importance of Bringing Hostages Home, Providing Humanitarian Aid, Crushing Hamas.“]


Concerns re Israel Actions in Gaza; possible consequences (gasp)

Israeli Government & the PA

Support Israel! Reject Critics/Criticism of or Any Pressure On Israel!

Marking 6-mos since 10/7/23

Supporting UNRWA

Targeting Academia/Free Speech

Other Stuff