FMEP Legislative Round-Up: December 15, 2023


1.Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. Hearings & Markups
4. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

New from FMEP


1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

MORE US Aid/Support/Cooperation for Israel & More

  • (FY23 NDAA) HR 2670: Passed in the Senate 12/13/23 and in the House 12/14/23, and presented to the President 12/14/23. As covered in detail in last week’s Round-Up, this bill includes extensive funding for Israel as well as far-reaching provisions/funding related to US-Israel programs/R&D/cooperation/military supplies/etc, Iran, normalization, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc. Notably, it also includes a provision targeting companies that boycott either Israel OR settlements (Section 1258). For full details see last week’s Round-Up.

Some Degree of Concern for Palestinians/Israeli Behavior

  • (HOLDING ISRAEL ACCOUNTABLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES) S. Res. 504: [bill text]: Introduced 12/14/23 by Sanders (I-VT), “Requesting information on Israel’s human rights practices pursuant to section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.This is what is known as aPrivileged Resolution.” As Sanders’ press release explains: “The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits security assistance to any government ‘which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.’ Section 502B(c) of this law allows Congress to request information on a country’s human rights practices – such requests are privileged, allowing the sponsor to force a floor vote on the requesting resolution. If the resolution passes, the Department of State must submit the requested report within 30 days, or all security assistance to the country in question is cut off. After the report is received, Congress may then enact changes to condition, reduce, or terminate the security assistance in question. Both the initial vote to request the information and any subsequent votes to alter security assistance are privileged and require a simple majority for passage.” [See this X-thread for details on Section 502B(c)].

Targeting Criticism of Israel/Free Speech/Academia/Media

  • (TARGETING FREE SPEECH SUPPORTIVE OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS) S. Res. 497: Introduced 12/13/23 by Cotton (R-AR) and 17 cosponsors (all Republicans),  “A resolution to express the sense of the Senate that the slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ and its derivations are antisemitic and a call for genocide and the destruction of the Jewish state.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. Also see: press release – Cotton, Colleagues Condemn “From the River to the Sea” Slogan as an Antisemitic Call for the Destruction of Israel [“‘People who invoke this disgraceful, antisemitic slogan are calling for the mass murder of Jews, whether they know it or not. On October 7, the world saw the genocidal intent of the phrase, ‘From the River to the Sea.’ No one who uses this phrase should escape condemnation,’” said Senator Cotton.”]
  • (USING HAMAS TO SLANDER/ATTACK/JEOPARDIZE THE SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS) H. Res. 930: Introduced 12/12/23 by Wilson (R-SC) and Allen (R-GA), “Condemning the Cable News Network (CNN) for utilizing images from an imbedded photojournalist with prior knowledge of the October 7th attack on Israel.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: press release – Wilson, Allen Introduce Resolution Condemning CNN for Complicity in Hamas Attack

Targeting Palestinians

  • (TARGETING UNRWA/PALESTINIAN AID, YET AGAIN) S. 3493: Introduced 12/13/23 by Hagerty (R-TN), Cruz (R-TX) and Braun (R-IN), “A bill to require certification prior to obligation of funds for United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and for other purposes.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Targeting Hamas

Other stuff

  • (TARGETING IRAN) S. 3527: Introduced 12/14/23 by Scott (R-FL) and Manchin (D-WV), “A bill to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from engaging in transactions involving the exchange of Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund that are held by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and for other purposes.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
  • (DISAPPROVING OF MILITARY SALE TO KSA) S. J. Res.53: Introduced 12/11/23 by Paul (R-KY), “A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of certain defense articles and services.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.


2. Letters

Some Degree of Concern for Palestinians/Palestinian Rights/Free Speech & Israeli Behavior

Targeting Criticism/Critics of Israel, Free Speech, Academia, Etc.

  • 12/13/23: Chairman Bost, House Republicans Grill VA over Antisemitic Video from VA Lawyer – “Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.), released the following statement after he led a letter with 18 House Republicans to call on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to hold VA attorney Ms. Shekeba Morrad accountable for the video she posted online mocking Israelis who are asking for the return of hostages taken by Hamas terrorists.” [letter text]
  • 12/11/23: Comer Probes Southern Poverty Law Center’s Influence Over Federal Employees [letter text] — “…the SPLC’s employees and representatives have demonstrated a pattern of engaging in violent demonstrations in support of leftist causes. In March of this year, an SPLC lawyer was arrested and charged with domestic terrorism pertaining to violence that broke out in Atlanta in relation to protests over a planned training facility for police officers.  More recently, several employees for the SPLC joined a statement which denounced Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ and blamed Israel for provoking Hamas’s terrorist attacks that killed 1,400 Israeli men, women, and children.”

Targeting Hamas


Other Stuff


3. Hearings & Markups

12/13/23: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a set of judicial nominees. Why, you may be asking, is this being covered in the Round-Up? Because one of those nominees is named Adeel Abdullah Mangi, and who if confirmed will be the first ever Muslim American to serve on federal circuit courts. But, you may be asking, what does that have to do with the issues covered in the Round-Up? The answer: because Mangi is Muslim, some members of the committee [Cotton, (R-AR), Kennedy, (R-LA), Cruz, (R-TX), Hawley (R-MO)] decided it was appropriate to interrogate him – indeed, at times browbeat him – on his views on Israel/Palestine, and in a manner that made clear that short of swearing fealty to the government of Israel, denouncing Islam, and singing Hatikvah, he was to be viewed as ipso facto antisemitic, anti-Israel, and pro-Hamas by virtue of his name/ethnicity/religion. I’m not going to go through all of the outrageous, absurd, obscenely racist and islamophobic questioning – feel free to check it out for yourself (video). I will share one absurd highlight that came in the context of questioning from Cotton (R-AR): “If pro-Hamas radicals went into a cake shop, say a Jewish vakery, and said ‘we want a cake on it that says Palestine Will Be Free From the River to the Sea’ and it had a dagger drawn through the Star of David, would that Jewish baker be compelled to bake that cake under your view of the law?” (video). Things go so nasty that towards the end of the hearing Chairman of the committee, Sen. Durbin (D-IL) actually broke in to read from a letter from the National Council of Jewish Women endorsing Mangi, and to apologize (weakly) for the Mangi was being treated by some Committee members: “I am sorry that you have been subjected to the suggestion that you are somehow anti-semitic or insensitive. This letter indicates those people who looked at your record feel just the opposite.”

12/13/23: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup of various measures listed below. Also see: hearing video.

  • H.R. 5917, To amend the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act to modify and extend that Act, and for other purposes. Discussion/grandstanding in committee around this bill starts at 1:08:13 in the video. ADOPTED/REPORTED OUT OF THE COMMITTEE FAVORABLY (BY VOICE VOTE).
  • H.R. 3016, To amend the Anti-Boycott Act of 2018 to apply the provisions of that Act to international governmental organizations. NOTE: This is the 2023 version of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, designed to target NON-COERCIVE policies of the EU and UN calling for boycotts of settlement products. As I summarized in an X-thread 12/12/23: “HR 3016 seeks to amend/expand current US anti-boycott law. That law is based on the idea of preventing US citizens from being **compelled or coerced** into boycotting Israel as a condition for doing business abroad. HR 3016, like previous versions of the IABA, seeks to extend this law to also cover US citizens who boycott Israel &/or settlements NOT because they are being compelled/coerced, but because it reflects their own values/political views, including support for intl law. Under HR 3016, anyone who violates or ‘abets’ what would be a ban on VOLUNTARY, VALUES-BASED decisions to boycott Israel or settlements, grounded in their own personal views &/or informed by respect for international law,— could face massive CRIMINAL/CIVIL PENALTIES. What do I mean by ‘massive CRIMINAL/CIVIL PENALTIES’? I mean up to $1 MILLION in fines or up to 20 YEARS IN PRISON. Think I’m exaggerating? Read the legislation that it HR 3016 would amend and understand: these penalties could be applied to any American who decides, say, that in protest of settler violence they want to boycott West Bank settlement products. Or hey, don’t take it from me — here’s the Jewish Insider’s article on the bill – “Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) are set to introduce legislation on Friday expanding U.S. anti-boycott laws to block U.S. companies and persons from participating in boycotts of U.S. allies by international governmental organizations, Jewish Insider has learned. Existing U.S. law bars U.S. companies and individuals from participating in boycotts of countries “friendly to the United States” organized by foreign countries or providing information that could facilitate those boycotts. It also requires them to report to the U.S. government when they are asked to comply with such boycotts. The new legislation will modify the law to encompass boycotts organized by international governmental organizations (IGOs), such as the United Nations and European Union. Although not specifically mentioned in the bill’s text, Lawler and Gottheimer said in statements that the change comes in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.” Debate/grandstanding in the committee on this bill starts are 1:13:14 in the video. Also see: US House Foreign Affairs Committee advances expansive anti-boycott legislation (Middle East Eye 12/14/23) ADOPTED/REPORTED OUT OF THE COMMITTEE FAVORABLY (BY A VOTE OF 42-3)

12/13/23: The House Financial Services Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “Moving the Money Part 2: Getting Answers from the Biden Administration on the Iranian Regime’s Support of Terrorism (hearing memo).” Witnesses were: Assistant Secretary of State for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg (statement); and State Department Deputy Special Envoy to Iran Abram Paley, (statement).

12/12/23: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe held another “we-stand-against-antisemitism-but-only-when-what-we-mean-by-‘antisemitism’-is-criticism-of-Israel-and-especially-when-we-can-use-it-as-a-hook-for-normalizing-Islamophobia!” show-hearing entitled, Addressing the Scourge of Anti-Semitism in Europe.  Witnesses – representing a wide spectrum of views/groups that are in total agreement when it comes to the imperative of conflating criticism of Israel/rejection of Zionism with antisemitism, and enforcing policies/laws designed to focus explicitly on suppressing and eradicating this supposed antisemitism — were: Elan Carr, former Trump officials and now head of the Israeli-American Council (statement); Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Simon Wiesenthal Center/U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (statement); Matthew Levitt, WINEP (statement); and Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, American Jewish Committee Europe (statement). Also see: hearing video;

12/12/23: The House Financial Services Committee’s National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions Subcommitee held a hearing entitled, Resticting Rogue-State Revenue: Strengthening Energy Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and Venezuela (hearing memo). Witnesses were: Marshall Billingslea, Hudson Institute (statement); Anna Mikulska, Kleiman Center for Energy Policy at University of Pennsylvania (statement); Ryan Berg, CSIS (statement); Claire Jungman, United Against Nuclear Iran (statement); and Adam Smith, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (statement). Also see: hearing video; opening statement from ranking Member Waters (D-CA)


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements


Aid/Weapons for Israel

Targeting Critics/Criticism of Israel/Free Speech/Academia

Other stuff

The War on Gaza