FMEP Legislative Round-Up: August 21, 2020


1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Hearings & Markups
3. On the Record

*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!

Shameless plug: I published a deep-dive analysis this week looking at the effort to pressure Facebook and other social media platforms to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, including its examples of “contemporary” antisemitism (many of which have been used to quash criticism of Israel). You can read it at Jewish Currents: Israel-Advocacy Groups Urge Facebook to Label Criticism of Israel as Hate Speech

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(3 CHEERS FOR NORMALIZATION!) S. Res. xxx (text here): On 8/20, Senators Young (R-IN), Graham (R-SC), Menendez (D-NJ), and Cardin (D-MD) announced they will introduce a Senate resolution “praising the historic agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).” Press release and text of resolution is here.

(NO US RECOGNITION OF ANNEXATION) HR 8050 (pdf of text is here): Introduced 8/14 by McCollum (D-MN), and having 6 original cosponsors (Tlaib, D-MI; Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY; Pressley, D-MA; Pocan, D-WI; Omar D-MN; and Carson D-IN), “To prohibit United States Government recognition of the Israeli Government’s claim of sovereignty over the occupied West Bank, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. McCollum:  floor statement introduction the bill is here, press releases are here and here, tweets about the bill are here and here. Others: Omar press release, Carson tweet,  Also see: Jewish Insider – Rep. McCollum introduces anti-annexation bill despite Israel-UAE accord; Jewish News Syndicate – McCollum introduces bill prohibiting US recognition of Israeli annexation; and Electronic Intifada – Historic bill would penalize Israel for annexation and apartheid


(NEED ANSWERS RE: KSA’S NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES) Van Hollen et al letter to Trump: On 8/19, Senators Van Hollen (D-MD), Paul (R-KY), Merkley (D-OR), Collins (R-ME), Kaine (D-VA), and Moran (R-KS) sent a letter to President Trump pressing for information on Saudi Arabia’s reported efforts to build secret nuclear facilities; expressing deep concern with this development; and laying out specific questions for which they are requesting answers, including China’s role in KSA’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and China’s role in these efforts. Press release is here.

(POST-BLAST, TEMPORARY PROTECTIONS FOR LEBANESE CITIZENS IN US) Tlaib et al letter to Trump: On August 19, a group of 81 House members, co-led by Tlaib (D-MI), Nadler (D-NY), Lofgren (D-CA), Dingell (D-MI), and Kaptur (D-OH), urging President Trump and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to immediately designate Lebanon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to provide a safe haven to Lebanese nationals in the United States in the wake of the Beirut disaster. The letter also urges the Administration to welcome to our country individuals and families permanently displaced by this disaster through any and all means at its disposal, including humanitarian parole. Tlaib press release is here. Murphy press release is here, Shaheen press release is here.

(HELP STABILIZE LEBANON & RESPOND TO DEMANDS FOR REFORM) Murphy et al letter to Pompeo & Barsa: ON August 19, Senators Murphy (D-CT), Lankford (R-OK), Kaine (D-VA), Perdue (R-GA), and Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to SecState Pompeo and USAID Administrator Barsa urging the Trump Administration “to lead a longer-term effort to address Lebanon’s worsening economic crisis, conditioned on Lebanon’s leaders committing to a clear set of reforms.” Press release is here.

(NEED ANSWERS RE: KSA’S NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES) Castro et al letter to Pompeo: On 8/17, Reps. Castro (D-TX), Bera (D-CA), and Deutch (D-FL) sent Secretary of State Michael Pompeo a letter demanding information regarding the People’s Republic of China’s reported transfers of nuclear and missile technology to Saudi Arabia, and the State Department’s response to these sales. Castro press release is here.

(CHANCE TO CLARIFY MISLEADING TESTIMONY) Levin/Engel letter to Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper: On 8/14, HFAC member Levin (D-MI) and HFAC chair Engel (D-N) sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper inviting him (as stated in the press release about the letter) “to sit for a transcribed interview with the Committee after new facts have emerged suggesting that he offered false testimony regarding Secretary Pompeo’s phony emergency declaration used last year to push through more than $8 billion in arms sales to Gulf countries.” Also see: 8/11 – Congressman Levin Statement Exposes State Department Deception After Publication of OIG Report on Gulf State Arms Sales


2. Hearings & Markups


3. On the Record


Members on the Record (in general)…

Romney (R-UT) & Murphy (D-CT) 8/20: Romney, Murphy Statement on Iraqi Prime Minister’s Visit to the White House

Portman (R-OH) 8/15: Tweet – “The establishment of diplomatic relations between our allies Israel & the UAE is a historic breakthrough. I’ve intro’d legislation w/ @SenBooker urging the other Arab League states to help create a more peaceful & prosperous Middle East by also normalizing relations w Israel.

Members on Iran…

DelBene (D-WA) 8/21: DelBene Continues to Demand Answers from CBP on Iranian Detentions at Border

Castro (D-TX) 8/20: Chairman Castro Statement on Trump Administration Attempt to Invoke Snapback Sanctions on Iran

Engel (D-NY) 8/20: Engel Statement on Trump’s Failed Iran Policy

Castro (D-TX) 8/20: Chairman Castro Statement on Trump Administration Attempt to Invoke Snapback Sanctions on Iran

Brown (D-MD) 8/20: Congressman Anthony Brown: President Trump Has No Strategy on Iran

Womack (R-AR) 8/20: Womack Statement on Snapback Sanctions on Iran

McCaul (R-TX) 8/20: McCaul Statement on Snapback Sanctions Against Iran

Cotton (R-AR) 8/20: Cotton Statement on Snapback Sanctions Against Iran

Cruz (R-TX) 8/20: Sen. Cruz Applauds President Trump’s Move to Invoke Snapback Sanctions and Maintain Arms Embargo on Iran

Risch (R-ID) 8/20: Snapback of Iran Sanctions Will Make World Safer

Cruz (R-TX) 8/17: Sen. Cruz in Newsweek: We Can, Should, and Will Invoke UN Snapback on Iran to End Iran Deal

Cruz (R-TX) 8/17: Fecklessness of Our European Allies Has Left United States With One Option Only To Prevent Expiration of the Arms Embargo; Time To Invoke the Snapback Mechanism

Risch (R-ID) 8/14: Chairman Risch on U.S. Seizure of Iranian Fuel Delivery to Venezuela

Wilson (R-SC) 8/14: Wilson Calls For Snapback Sanctions On Iran

Articles and Reports Related to the Hill


Jewish Insider 8/21: Lindsey Graham is taking nothing for granted [“Israel, according to Graham, will be a ‘defining issue’ in the race due in part to the state’s sizable evangelical Christian population. ‘People in South Carolina have an affinity for our friends in Israel, and they get the idea that the people who want to destroy Israel also want to destroy us — and the Democratic Party is adrift, unfortunately,’ Graham told JI. ‘There are still pro-Israel Democrats, but I would put my record of supporting the State of Israel up against anybody in the Congress.’”]

Jewish Insider 8/20: Can Richard Neal avoid the same fate as Eliot Engel? [“With less than two weeks remaining until Massachusetts’s primary election on September 1, Democratic Majority for Israel is pouring more than $100,000 into advertising against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, a young progressive challenger running against longtime incumbent Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) in the state’s 1st congressional district.  If that sounds familiar, it may be because DMFI, a pro-Israel group, recently reared its head in another race, spending nearly $2 million on attack ads targeting Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal who defeated Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) in New York’s June 23 primary by 15 percentage points. Mark Mellman, DMFI’s president and CEO, isn’t cowed by Engel’s loss, and defended his organization’s effort to boost Neal in an email statement. ‘Chairman Neal has consistently supported a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Mayor Morse does not,’ Mellman told Jewish Insider. According to Mellman, Morse — who supports conditioning aid to Israel — ‘fails to meet the standard set by over 95% of House Democrats.’ Mellman added that Morse had ‘enthusiastically accepted support from IfNotNow,’ a group that Mellman characterized as ‘an organization that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, in any borders.’”]

Responsible Statecraft (Mairav Zonszein) 8/19: How this year’s primary season demonstrated the waning influence of pro-Israel hawks

Jewish Insider 8/17: Money in politics is not like it once was. Will pro-Israel donors adapt?

Jewish Insider 8/17: The Catch-22 of Antone Melton-Meaux’s failed bid

Jewish News Syndicate 8/14: Could a pro-BDS congressional candidate win in New England’s largest Jewish district?

Other News

Times of Israel 8/21: US lawmaker seeking foreign affairs job flips stance on conditioning Israel aid

Jewish Insider 8/20: Meeks: U.S. commitment to Israel aid is ‘absolute and unequivocal’

Middle East Forum (op-ed in Newsweek) 8/20: Congress Stands up to Qatar and Al Jazeera [REMINDER: former HFAC chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in her capacity as a registered lobbyist for UAE, prepared/disseminated a report dated 7/6/20 entitled, “Report Concerning Qatar’s Jazeera Media Network & The Foreign Agents Registration Act”; also see related materials filed under FARA]

A-sharq Al-Awsat 8/13: Israel Calls for PA Prisoners’ Affairs Administration to be Designated as Terrorist