FMEP Legislative Round-Up: August 4, 2023 (recess edition)


1.Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Media & Reports
3. Members on the Record

This week from FMEP:


1. Bills, Resolutions & letters



(ADJUST US APPROACH TO LEBANON) Risch letter to Biden; Issa-Lahood-Miller letter to Blinken: On 8/4/23, Sen. Risch (R-ID) led a letter to President Biden arguing that the US “must take a more assertive role in shaping Lebanon’s trajectory, or risk losing Lebanon entirely as an Iranian client state. The United States must better support credible political candidates and a robust civil society, increase sanctions against corrupt Lebanese officials across the sectarian spectrum, impose costs for Hezbollah’s use of civilian areas to store weapons that threaten Israel, expand support to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), seek to eliminate Iranian revenue streams that keep Hezbollah afloat, and prioritize accountability as a pillar of American policy.” Also this week, according to press reports, Reps. Issa (R-CA), Lahood (R-IL) and Miller (R-OH) sent a letter [not posted on any of their websites or on social media] to SecState Blinken expressing similar concerns.

Also see:

(LIFT HOLD ON DESPERATELY NEEDED HUMANITARIAN AID FOR PALESTINIANS) Carson letter to HFAC/SFRC GOP leaders blocking UNRWA aid: As reported last week, this week Rep. Carson (D-IN) continued seeking cosigners on a letter to HFAC Chair McCaul (R-TX) and SFRC Ranking member Risch (R-ID), “to respectfully request” that they “release the hold placed on the $75 million in previously appropriated congressional funding in the FY2023 State, Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which is designated for the provision of food assistance to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).” The letter is reportedly set to close on August 9.

(WITHHOLD EGYPT MILITARY AID) Murphy et al letter to SecState Blinken: On 7/28/23, Sen. Murphy (D-CT) led a letter, cosigned by 9 fellow senators (all Democrats plus Sanders, I-VT) stating: “The Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill directs the administration to withhold $320 million of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Egypt absent improvements on human rights. Over the last year, Egypt’s human rights record has continued to deteriorate, despite the Egyptian government’s claims to the contrary. Therefore, we urge you to withhold the full amount of $320 million.” The letter goes on to detail how Egypt has failed to meet the requirements set out by Congress to avoid the withholding, and closes: “The decision the administration will make as to whether to enforce the conditions set forth by Congress on holding Egypt accountable for progress on human rights is critical to advancing long-term U.S. interests in Egypt and American credibility on human rights globally. We urge the administration to withhold the full $320 million as called for by the FY22 Appropriations Act until Egypt’s human rights record improves.”

Also see:

(CONCERN OVER IRAN INFLUENCE IN US MOSQUES) Lamborn et al letter to AG Garland & DNI Haines: On 7/28/23, Lamborn (R-CO) led a letter, cosigned by 8 House colleagues (all Republicans), to Attorney General Gardland and Director of National Intelligence Haines, expressing their concern about “the pressing issue of foreign influence in American religious institutions by the Islamic Republic of Iran, a theocratic, state sponsor of terrorism that has the blood of hundreds of Americans on its hands.” The letter goes on to state: “In four separate cases, recent reports have illustrated the Iranian regime’s influence on multiple Shi’a mosques and religious institutions in the United States. This is unacceptable. Most recently, in May, a mosque just a few miles from Washington D.C. in Potomac, Maryland, the Islamic Education Center (IEC) was revealed to be part of a network of mosques controlled by the Alavi Foundation…” The letter asks Garland and Haines to provide answers to questions about these allegations by August 11th. NOTE: The Middle East Forum is explicitly taking credit for this letter [notably, the letter itself is being hosted by a group that is a spin-off of the Middle East Forum – also see Middle East Forum tweet; also see GOP reps raise alarm bells over Iran’s influence in ‘American religious institutions’ (Fox News 8/1/23 — by MEF Fellow Ben Weinthal).

(CONCERN FOR PALESTINIANS – WADI FOQUIN) Lee et al letter to State Department: On 7/25/23 12 House Democrats, led by Rep. Lee (D-CA) sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf “regarding the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin located in the Bethlehem District of the West Bank.” The letter details the harm facing residents of Wadi Foquin – including potential loss of land and economic suffering – “due to the policy decisions and actions of the Government of Israel.” The letter urges the State Department to strongly communicate our concerns to the Israeli government and call for an immediate halt to all demolitions and property seizures in Wadi Foquin, including halting any planning or construction on proposed Highway 3742, military roads, and sewage infrastructure. We are aware that State Department personnel in Jerusalem are in touch with village leadership and we encourage their continued engagement in reporting concerns from the ground to your office.


2. Media & Reports

Elections & politics

Jewish Insider 8/4/23: Baldwin appears with activist critical of Israel at fundraiser [“The senator was photographed with a San Francisco activist who has accused Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘apartheid’ and a ‘pogrom’ targeting Palestinians...Rahman has accused Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘apartheid’ and a ‘pogrom’ targeting Palestinians, and described Gaza as ‘an open air prison.’ She has also accused U.S. officials of ignoring and being complicit in Israeli ‘war crimes & apartheid to ensure they win their next election.‘”]

Times of Israel (blog post) 8/3/23: J Street Is Crossing a Bright Red Line [for daring to support conditions on aid to Israel]. Approvingly tweeted by AIPAC multiple times, each time with comment – “@jstreetdotorg is many things, but it’s not pro-Israel.”

The Forward 8/3/23: A progressive Jewish group is pressuring Democrats to reject AIPAC endorsements [interesting, the page data suggests that the original headline had a less negative tone – “Progressive group challenges pols over AIPAC endorsements”]

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 8/3/23: ‘A new perspective’: Summer Lee’s different path in Congress [“‘I condemn antisemitism and xenophobia in all its forms,’ she said at the time. ‘Whether we’re talking about India, Israel, or Sri Lanka, we are not true allies if we cannot push our partners to uphold basic human rights and democratic values. I cannot vote for unconditional support of any nation-state.’”]

Jewish Insider 8/2/23: Delaware Congressional candidate Sarah McBride casts herself as a staunch supporter of Israel [“McBride emphasized that federal law already contains protections to ensure that U.S. aid ‘shouldn’t be used in ways that contradict our values,’ [NOTE: THIS IS NOT ACCURATE, but the journalist left it unchallenged] and voiced ‘serious concerns about any policy that would single out Israel and treat it differently than other countries that we support through foreign aid’ or hold it ‘to a different standard.’ [NOTE: ISRAEL IS ALREADY HELD TO A DIFFERENT, LOWER STANDARD THAN OTHER COUNTRIES WITH RESPECT TO CONDITIONS/RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN AID & WITH RESPECT TO SPECIAL AID BENEFITS THAT ISRAEL – ALONE IN THE WORLD – ENJOYS, but again, the journalist just let these statements stand]  …McBride expressed support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which she said she has and will continue to rely on in her work to combat antisemitism. She said she was ‘proud’ that the State Department endorsed the IHRA definition in 2016. “]

The Forward 8/2/23: Jamaal Bowman’s primary challenger calls the incumbent ‘viscerally anti-Israel’

Times of Israel 8/1/23: Miriam Adelson cut philanthropy as casinos hit COVID slump. Now they’re rebounding

Jewish Insider 7/31/23: Alsobrooks touts progressive pro-Israel credentials in her bid to succeed Sen. Cardin

New York Post 7/29/23: Former member of Israel Defense Forces emerges as new primary challenger to Lying Rep. George Santos


On Israeli Judicial “Reform” & “ISRAEL IS NOT RACIST” kerfuffle

Jerusalem Post 8/3/23: Jan Schakowsky joins reform protesters in Chicago as movement makes inroads among Democrats

YNet 8/1/23: ‘Congress stands for democracy in Israel:’ US lawmakers weigh in on judicial reform debate [“In a joint statement presented to the Biden administration, several Democrat Congress members call on US to support protests against the government’s legal plan“]

Haaretz 8/1/23: U.S. Lawmaker: I Told Herzog That Silicon Valley VC’s Wary of Investing in Israel Amid Judicial Overhaul [“Khanna, whose district includes most of the 50,000 Israelis residing in California’s Bay Area, was asked by Israelis what Congress can do to preserve Israeli democracy – a point he said he conveyed to Herzog“]

Middle East Eye 8/1/23: US lawmaker says high-tech investment ‘leaving Israel’ amid judicial overhaul [“Ro Khanna says he told Israeli president that venture capital firms in California are worried about investing in Israel’s technology sector“]

Times of Israel 8/1/23: To counterbalance Netanyahu’s words: An open letter to Congress [from former Israeli ambassadors and senior career diplomats]

+972 Magazine 7/31/23: The violent lies of Israel’s president [“When members of Congress applaud falsehoods about Israel being a vibrant democracy, they are aiding and abetting further oppression of Palestinians.”]

Christian Science Monitor 1/31/23: How Israel democracy battle is challenging Biden … and US Jews

Haaretz 7/31/23: Jewish Democrat [Schakowsky, D-IL] Becomes First Member of Congress to Address pro-Israeli Democracy Protest in U.S.

Arutz Sheva 7/31/23: Democrats promoting: Congress resolution would back anti-government protesters in Israel

Jewish News Syndicate 7/30/23: Shielding certain antisemites [“Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) recently called Israel a racist state. This is an antisemitic statement clearly covered under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of antisemitism.”]

Jerusalem Post 7/30/23: Antisemitism is a Feature of Partisan Extremism

Middle East Eye 7/29/23: Herzog’s US visit whitewashes Israeli crimes, but reasons for hope stand out

Haaretz 7/29/23: U.S. Democrats Advance Congressional Resolution in Support of Israel’s Protest Movement  [“The resolution is said to reflect the opinion of the Democratic voter base, serving as a ‘warning sign’ to Prime Minister Netanyahu and giving strength to the pro-democratic Israeli public”]



The Gazette (Colorad0) 8/4/23: EDITORIAL: State’s politicians fight for Israel

Jewish Insider 8/4/23: GOP lawmakers caution DHS could defund cooperative programs with Israel [“The lawmakers claim DHS may not fund cooperative cyber and homeland security grant programs with Israel this year“]

The Corsican Sun (Texas) 8/3/23: Ellzey talks Israeli trip Congressional recess

Washington Free Beacon 8/3/23: Democrat-Led Anti-Israel Bill Relies on Research From [Israel-]Designated Terror Group [a human rights NGO that is NOT designated as a terror org by the US] NOTE: This article is reporting not “news” but “olds” — as in, this story has been reported, repeatedly, in the past, including in 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, and May 2023

Fox News 8/2/23: ‘Squad’ Democrat attends anti-Israel art show promoting destruction of Jewish state

Algemeiner 8/2/23: Was the Rebuke of a Progressive Democrat a Blow to the Boycott Israel Movement?

Jewish Insider 8/2/23: Following trips to Israel, lawmakers question future of U.S. security coordination with Palestinians

Unmanned Airspace 8/2/23: US Congress to consider US-Israel anti-killer drone bill

Politico 8/1/23: State Department IG scrutinizing diplomat’s clearance suspension [“The department’s top watchdog is asking questions following a request from Republican senators.“]

Jewish Press 8/1/23: Reinvigorating Bipartisan Support for Israel [by Bobby Rechnitz, “a Los-Angeles based philanthropist and real-estate developer who serves as chairman of the Golda Meir Commemorative Coin Committee, and the Abraham Accords Roundtable. He has been involved for many years in strengthening the US-Israel relationship and was instrumental in the passage of the Iron Dome legislation.“]

Jewish News Syndicate 7/31/23: McCarthy names members of House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group

Washington Post (editorial) 7/30/23: The Senate has some good questions — and few answers — about Saudi-owned golf

Jerusalem Post 7/30/23: US House Speaker names House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group members


3. Members on the Record

Roy (R-TX) 8/3/23: Tweet – “‘[Biden is] trying to draw a moral equivalency between the Palestinians who are bombing innocent civilians…and the Israeli government which has a right to defend itself!’ WATCH: Rep. Roy and @VictoriaCoates call out Biden’s failed Israel policy on @MorningsMaria” (incl video)

Jeffries (D-NY) 8/2/23: Twitter thread from Jacob Kornbluth – “House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries announces he will lead a Dem congressional delegation to Israel this week — his 7th trip since entering Congress in 2013 and second for this year. Jeffries spoke at the Boro Park JCC annual bbq event.  Jeffries on why he’s taken this many trips to Israel: ‘Understand something. I’m from Brooklyn where we consider Jerusalem to be the 6th borough [of NYC]. So I’m just starting to catch up.'” [with video] – Also see AIPAC tweet applauding Jeffires

McClain (R-MI) 8/2/23: Tweet – “Iran’s corrupt regime will stop at nothing to advance its dangerous agenda. We must continue to support our critical allies in democracy across the globe. Israel is one of those vital allies, and I am proud to stand with them.” [AIPAC tweet applauding McClain]

Ossoff (D-GA) 8/1/23: press release – Sen. Ossoff Speaks with Former Prime Minister & Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid

Lesko (R-AZ) 8/1/23: Tweet – “Equating one of America’s most critical allies to murderous terrorists is disgraceful. @HouseGOP will always be unabashedly pro-Israel!” Linked to article, The Deadly Costs of Biden’s Israel Policy (National Review 7/31/23)

Sherman (D-CA) 8/1/23: press release – Congressman Brad Sherman Named as Member of House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group (also tweet)

Steube (R-FL) 8/1/23: Tweet – The U.S. and Israel are united in our efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran. We will continue to support our ally Israel in countering Iranian attacks and in their right to self-defense.”

Lawler (R-NY) 8/1/23: Tweet – “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group to combat hatred against Israel and the Jewish people. As I said when I addressed @CUFI month, we have to root out anti-Semitism at every turn.” [with video]

Malliotakis (R-NY) 8/1/23: press release – Malliotakis Appointed to Bipartisan House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group (also see Tweet)

Cruz (R-TX) 8/1/23: Tweet – “Team Biden made a day 1 decision to stop supporting the Abraham Accords and reestablish failed discredited approaches. But the Abraham Accords flourished at every level – security, diplomatically, and culturally. Recently Israel recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, opening the way to greater engagement, while Israelis have been flocking to Morocco in record numbers.” Linked to article, Flocking to Morocco: Record number of Israelis file for visa to visit Morocco (YNet 7/26/23)

Kean (R-NJ) 8/1/23: Tweet – “As a member of the @HouseForeignGOP, I know how important it is to support our allies, especially our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel. I am proud to join my colleagues across the aisle and cosponsor the U.S.-Israel Antin-Killer Drone Act.” Linked to Bipartisan bill pushes for increased U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation (Jewish Insider 7/28/23)

D’Esposito (R-NY) 7/31/23: Tweet – “Grateful to @SpeakerMcCarthy for appointing me to the House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group. I look forward to collaborating with my Israeli counterparts in our shared mission to strengthen our bond & promote liberty, democracy, & human rights across the world.

Cassidy (R-LA) 7/31/23: press release – Senate Passes Cassidy, Cotton Bipartisan Resolution Affirming American Support for Israel

Roy (R-TX) 7/31/23: Op-ed in the National Review (co-authored by Victoria Coates) – The Deadly Costs of Biden’s Israel Policy [“Today, the damage that Biden is inflicting on the U.S.–Israel partnership, and thus damage to the security of the American people, is too important to ignore. If his administration refuses to reverse its disastrous pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel policies that will do nothing to promote a real solution to the conflict, then Congress must step in. Going forward, all members who support Israel need to stand strong against the noxious anti-Israel bias in the progressive caucus and aggressively counter requests for funding to the Palestinian Authority, which is incapable of stemming the violence, and vehicles such as UNRWA that only increase aid dependency, antisemitism, and violence in places such as Jenin. And if the president can’t summon the good manners to formally schedule a visit for one of our closest allies to the White House, the speaker of the House should use his authority to invite the real leader of Israel to address a joint session of Congress, and the American people, about the state of affairs in his country.“] Also see Roy’s tweet.

Sullivan (R-AK) 7/31/23: Tweet – “The historic Abraham Accords continue to bear fruit, with Israel now recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, opening the way to greater engagement. This deepening partnership will help maintain security & peace across the Middle East and North Africa.” Linked to 7/19/23 Tweet from the account of Israeli PM Netanyahu: “Moroccan King Mohammed VI invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Morocco. The invitation was sent in a warm, personal letter in which His Majesty thanked the State of Israel for its recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.”

Kustoff (R-CA) 7/28/23: press release – Kustoff Named Chairman of House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group

Cardin (D-MD) 7/27/23: press release – Cardin Calls for Release of Egyptian Political Prisoner, Salah el Deen Soltan Also see: Democratic Senator Lobbies Egypt to Free Cleric Who Called for Murder of Israeli Tourists (Free Beacon 8/3/23)