Legislative Round-Up- April 26, 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. Congress Continues to Stoke Hysteria Over Student Protests for Palestinian Rights
3. Letters
4. Hearings & Markups
5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

New from FMEP:

1. Bills & Resolutions

(LEGISLATING THE IHRA DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM: HR 6090: Introduced 10/26/23 by Lawler (R-NY) and having 42 cosponsors (bipartisan), “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 “Antisemitism Awareness Act.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. 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.

(FEDERAL ANTISEMITISM MONITORS FOR US COLLEGES) HR XXX: On 4/26/24, Jewish Insider reported: Torres, Lawler push for federal antisemitism monitors on college campuses. Per that report, “As encampments of anti-Israel protesters spring up on a growing number of campuses across the country bringing with them instances of antisemitism, Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Mike Lawler (R-NY) are threatening to condition federal funding for universities as part of a push for more stringent federal oversight and monitoring of campus antisemitism, Jewish Insider has learned. The lawmakers plan to introduce the College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability (COLUMBIA) Act, which would allow the Department of Education to impose a third-party monitor for antisemitic activity on any campus receiving federal funding. Schools that do not adequately cooperate with monitoring could potentially lose their federal funding. Compliance with such monitoring would, under the proposed legislation, be a condition of receiving continued federal funds; the monitor would release quarterly public reports on the progress that schools have made in addressing antisemitism and providing recommendations to federal, state and local lawmakers and officials.” Also: “The proposed monitors would be appointed by the secretary of education, while expenses for the monitors would be paid by the schools being monitored.”

  • Also see: Lawler press release 4/26/24 – Reps. Lawler, Torres Introduce Legislation Empowering Federal Department of Education to Impose a Third-Party Antisemitism Monitor On Colleges and Universities Receiving Federal Funding
  • My X-thread 4/26/24 on this legislative initiative: “...As the House gets set to pass legislation that would codify/endorse the IHRA definition of antisemitism on US campuses, 2 members of Congress who back that bill have helpfully given us a hint at the future they they envision 1/  Reminder: the SOLE PURPOSE of codifying the IHRA definition is to legally enforce the conflation of criticism/protest of Israel/Zionism with antisemitism, so as to delegitimize/punish/quash/chill ideas/criticism/protest that doesn’t align with unconditional support for Israel. 2/ What might that look like? We don’t need to speculate because 2 House reps are getting set to introduce complementary legislation to add extremely sharp teeth to the IHRA definition on campus. 3/ Say hello to the “College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability (COLUMBIA) Act” which per @J_Insider would allow the Dept of Education ‘to impose a 3rd-party monitor for antisemitic activity on any campus receiving federal funding.’…Maybe you love this idea; maybe you hate it. Either way, don’t say you didn’t know. Final reminder: [embedded evergreen X-post] – 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.’

(BILLIONS IN ADDITIONAL UNCONDITIONAL MILITARY AID FOR ISRAEL, PLUS SOME OTHER STUFF) HR 8034 / HR 8038 / HR 815: In the wake of Iran’s recent (retaliatory) attack on Israel, pressure massively increased last week on House Speaker Johnson (R-LA) to take action on and   pass emergency aid for Israel. In the end he did so, and over the weekend, on 4/20/24, the House passed HR 8034 — providing billions in totally unconditional military aid for Israel, along with substantial funding for humanitarian assistance. Notably, not a penny of the latter is specifically earmarked to help Palestinians, yet the bill does include numerous provisions imposing conditions/restrictions/oversight requirements in the event that a penny of that funding is used for Palestinians (including a total ban on any of the funding going to UNRWA). In addition, the House  passed HR 8038, the “sidecar” bill added to the emergency funding package, containing a long list of anti-Iran/anti-Iran-diplomacy measures (and also legislation targeting TikTok). On 4/23/24, the Senate voted on both of these bills, along with two other emergency funding bills, all bundled together as an amendment-in-the-nature-of-a-substitute to HR 815 (the pre-existing vehicle for the emergency funding). A number of Israel-related amendments were offered to the bill, including a Scott (R-FL) amendment to in effect permanently bar US aid for Gaza; a Sanders (I-VT) amendment to cancel the ban on aid to UNRWA; a Sanders (I-VT) amendment to cut offensive military aid for Israel out of the bill; a Van Hollen (D-MD) amendment to put conditions on offensive military aid for Israel in the bill; a Van Hollen (D-MD) amendment to allow funding for UNRWA — none of which were considered. For exhaustive coverage/details of the substance of these bills see last week’s edition of the Round-Up. Further details of what happened over the weekend and this week:


2. Congress Continues to Stoke Hysteria Over Student Protests for Palestinian Rights/Lives




Defending Right to Protest & Campus Free Speech


3. Letters

  • [IRAN SANCTIONS] 4/24/24: Sullivan & Blumenthal Call on President to Enforce Stronger Sanctions Against Iran [letter text
  • [IMPOSE POLITICAL LITMUS TEST FOR TAX-EXEMPT ORGS!] 4/24/24: Ways and Means Republicans Call for Rigorous Oversight of U.S. Tax-Exempt Organizations with Suspected Ties to Chinese Communist Party [letter text]. Also see: Lawmakers Ask IRS To Probe Chinese Funding to Anti-Israel Protests (Free Beacon 4/24/24). Apparently believing that protesters against Israel’s war on Gaza were insufficiently demonized, delegitimized, and dehumanized accusations they are (a) in league with terrorists, (b) antisemitic, and (c) modern-day-Nazis who are worse than ACTUAL Nazis who march in the US, some powerful House Republicans are upping the ante. With this new letter, they now seem to be claiming is that these protesters are….agents of the Chinese Communist Party, and seeking to use hate/fear of China and hysteria around antisemitism (defined to mean criticism of Israel/activism for Palestinian rights) as a springboard to suggest that the IRS should impose a political/ideological litmus test on tax exempt groups, and should revoke tax-exempt status of organizations that “promote conduct that is counter to public policy. The letter also suggests the IRS must vet tax-exempt organizations for “antisemitism” and asks “Does the IRS have a definition of antisemitism in place within the agency that it considers when evaluating the claimed exempt purpose of a tax-exempt organization?” Notably the letter does not ask whether the IRS has definitions of anti-Black hate, or Islamophobia, or any other kind of hate that it “considers when evaluating the claimed exempt purpose of a tax-exempt organization.” For those paying attention (for years now) to efforts in Congress to legislate and enforce the IHRA definition of antisemitsm (for the most recent examples see Section 1 of this Round-Up), this question strongly suggests an intent to legislate the IHRA definition of antisemitism into IRS regulations, with the goal of making “violations” of that definition (that is, criticism/activism focused on Israel, Israeli policies, Palestinian rights, Zionism, etc) a basis for denying/revoking tax-exempt status of an organization. In practice such a policy would mean revoking the tax exempt statys of pretty much every US 501(c)(3) organization working on these issues (from anything other than an explicitly pro-Israel perspective and for pro-Israel objectives). Moreover, it would have a chilling effect on US 501(c)(3) organizations that work on such issues in the context of, for example, a broader focus on human rights, or status of children, or corporate resonsibility in conflict zones, or hunger, or health — in effect creating a situation in which such organizations would be compelled to implement a blind spot/exception for Israel, or face charges of “antisemitism” that could destroy their ability to work on everything else. To anyone reading this who thinks this this sounds far-fatched, please take some time to learn about the attacks on the entire movement for ethical investing (known as ESG), and a company called Morningstar in particular. Claiming that ESG is antisemitic for daring to try to hold Israel accountable to the same ethical screens/standards as every other country has become a primary weapon used both by defenders of Israeli impunity and by illiberal/conservative forces who oppose ESG in general. Attacks have focused specifically on Morningstar, a company that some have viewed as the standard-bearer for ESG practices. Those attacks succeeded in their goal, with Morningstar eventually re-tooling its entire approach to ESG to ensure an Israel exception.
  • [HOLD ISRAEL TO US LAW ON NSM20] 4/16/24 (not previously reported in the Round-Up): Reps. Escobar, Castro Lead Letter on NSM20 and U.S. Origin Weapons in Israel [letter text]


4. Hearings & Markups

Potential hearing alert (nothing on the schedule yet): New York Times 4/12/24 – 2 School Districts to Testify as Congress Expands Antisemitism Inquiry [“The leaders of public schools in New York City and Montgomery County, Md., will testify about how their districts are handling antisemitism before a congressional committee next month. It will be the first time that K-12 districts have taken center stage in the House hearings focused on how schools are responding to a wave of student protests since Hamas’s attacks against Israel on Oct. 7. At least one other district was also invited to attend the hearing on May 8, according to the New York City schools chancellor, David C. Banks, who will be testifying. A spokesman for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce confirmed that the two districts were asked to attend the hearing, but did not identify any others. The earlier congressional hearings helped trigger the resignations of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. Columbia University’s president is appearing before a congressional committee next week. Now, representatives appear to be expanding their scope beyond higher education. The inquiry next month will offer a window into how the tensions on American college campuses are also stirring painful debates in public school communities…”]

5. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

Politics/Elex (general)

Rep. Summer Lee Primary

Unconditional Support for Israel and ONLY Israel

Other stuff