This week from FMEP:
- New Occupied Thoughts podcast: The Palestine Laboratory – A Conversation with Antony Loewenstein, ft. journalist, filmmaker, and author Antony Loewenstein in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman about his new book, The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World
- New Occupied Thoughts podcast: Defending Palestine Free Speech — The Case of Fatima Mohammed, ft. Palestine Legal’s Amal Thabateh in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman
- New FMEP webinar: Blockade, Bombings, and Continuing Trauma: Assessing Mental Health in Gaza, ft. Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei (Gaza Community Mental Health Programme), Ghada Majadli (Physicians for Human Rights Israel), and Razzan Quran (George Washington University) in conversation with Dr. Yara Asi (FMEP Non-resident Fellow)
(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.
- Risch tweet
- Lebanon: Republicans in Congress call for sanctions against political class (Al-Monitor 8/4/23)
- Beirut blast: US sanctions ‘must target Lebanon’s political class’ — Calls for accountability are mounting as Lebanon marks the third anniversary of the deadly port explosion [The National News (UAE) 8/4/23)
(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.”
- Murphy press release – Murphy Leads 10 Senators in Urging Biden Administration to Withhold Military Aid to Egypt Given Human Rights Concerns
- Jewish Insider 8/1/23: Senate Democrats call to withhold military aid to Egypt over human rights violations
- Attack on Murphy by FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer – Tweet: “Almost as if he wants to push the most populous Arab country toward economic collapse, while also undercutting the successful peace deal it enjoys with Israel. What could possible so wrong?“; response from Murphy – Tweet: “a. $300m less U.S. military equipment is going to collapse a $380 billion economy? b. There’s nothing more Washington than a group called Foundation for Defense of Democracies arguing to keeping giving no strings weapons aid to a country with 60,000 political prisoners.” NOTE: Schanzer’s attack on Murphy for allegedly undercutting the Israel-Egypt peace deal by seeking accountability for Egyptian violations of US law/conditions is particularly notable given the fact that FDD colleagues have in recent months engaged energetically to target Jordan and Jordan/Israel relations [including urging Congress to take action] – see: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here
(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.”
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)
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]
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)