FMEP Legislative Round-Up: July 21, 2023


1.Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Israeli President on the Hill
3. Thou Shalt Not Call Israel “Racist”!
4. Hearings & Events
5. Media & Reports
6. Members on the Record (Israel/Palestine)
7. Members on the Record (Iran & other Mideast countries)

New from FMEP:

  • 7/19/23: New edition of the Occupied Thoughts podcast, The Destruction of Masafer Yatta ft. FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin speaking with journalists Basel Adraa and Yuval Abraham about the conditions of life in Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, and how things have changed – and gotten far worse – since the May 2022 Israeli Supreme Court decision that authorized the IDF to expel communities in Masafer Yatta.

NOTE: There has been lots of discussion this week about the US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding to enable Israel to become part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. As of this writing the State Department has reportedly declined to make the MOU public – raising the question: what is the Biden Administration trying to hide? And this failure is all the more bizarre given that a document purporting to be the MOU is circulating widely in Middle East policy circles. After having received the document from 3 separate non-government sources, I have posted the it here.


1. Bills, Resolutions & letters


(FY24 SFOPS & NDAA) HR 4665/S. 2438 & HR 2670/S. 2226: For many many years, the Round-Up has meticulously tracked the path of the annual SFOPS and NDAA bills, reporting in exhausting detail on Middle East-related elements in these key pieces of legislation. This annual process has included tracking the bills, in both chambers, from the committee process, through floor consideration/amendments, through the House-Senate conference resolving differences between the texts, through passage. This year, that’s not going to happen. Why? Because this year, for the first time in the more than 2 decades that I’ve been tracking these bills, the legislative process is so totally f***ked up, and the legislation and amendments are collectively such a total dumpster fire of extreme partisan/ideological grandstanding, that it simply doesn’t make sense to spend hours and hours tracking what is going on. For now, the Round-Up is going to sit back, pop some popcorn, and hold off writing any more about these bills until it looks like something is actually going to pass. And to be clear: the odds are very good that SFOPS – and other appropriations bills – won’t pass and we will see continuing resolutions (and possible shutdowns); and it is also increasingly likely that the NDAA won’t pass [the NDAA is often referred to as “must-pass” legislation but, in point of fact, it is not]. Also see: Senate to begin consideration of 2024 NDAA: what we’re watching (Jewish Insider 7/18/23)

(b) Israel

(THOU SHALT NOT CALL ISRAEL RACIST!) H. Con. Res. 57/S. Con. Res. 14: Introduced in the House 7/17/23 by Pfluger (R-TX) and 25 cosponsors [24 Republicans plus Moskowitz (D-FL)], and in the Senate 7/18/23 by Cotton (R-AR) and 28 all-Republican cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of Congress supporting the State of Israel.” More aptly, this resolution should be known as the “some members of Congress — on both sides of the aisle — doth protest too much in defense of Israel, and also never miss an opportunity to use the conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism to attack progressives.” The full text of the resolution reads: “Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that— (1) the State of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state; (2) Congress rejects all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia; and (3) the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.” Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively.

  • On 7/18/23, the House suspened the rules and voted to pass H. Con. Res. 57 by a roll call vote of 412-9-1.  The 9 “no” votes came from: Bowman (D-NY), Bush (D-MO), Carson (D-IN), Lee (D-PA), Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Omar (D-MN), Pressley (D-MA), Ramirez (D-IL), and Tlaib (D-MI); the 1 “present” vote was McCollum (D-MN). Notably, Jayapal (D-WI) voted “yes.” Three members who didn’t vote Gallego (D-AZ), Deluzio (D-PA) and Davis (D-NC) all noted they would have voted “yes” if they had been present. The House floor “debate” on H. Con. Res. 57 – consisting of bipartisan pro-Israel grandstanding plus a single statement opposing the resolution from Tlaib (D-MI) – is here.
  • Also see Pfluger’s press release; Cotton’s press release: “…Israel has been a friend of the United States and our most important ally in the Middle East since the country’s founding 75 years ago. I condemn any antisemitic attacks against Israel from those who seek to undermine our relationship to the benefit of those who wish harm to America. Republicans and Democrats alike should support this resolution.
  • As of this writing (3pm on 7/21/23), there has been no action on the Senate version of this resolution.


  • These resolutions was introduced ostensibly in response to recent comments made by Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) referring to Israel as a “racist state,” which she later clarified. See Section 3, below, for media and tweets/statements about that kerfuffle. Ostensibly, because (yet again) this is a case of Republicans – aided and abetted by Democrats – manufacturing a controversy that is centered on defining criticism of Israel as ipso facto antisemitic (and once again, focusing on criticism made by a member of Congress who is a woman of color), with the clear intent of forcing Democrats to choose between (a) legitimizing/doubling down on Republicans’ ever-escalating attacks on progressive Democrats and by extension the Democratic party or (b) being accused of being anti-Israel and antisemitic for failing to do so. In short, with Democrats in effect acquiescing to and embracing the right of Republicans and legacy pro-Israel organizations to dictate the limits of acceptable views/speech on Israel, they have set up a situation in which virtually anything progressive Democrats say about Israel will result in Republicans arguing that the Democrats have an “antisemitism” problem. See: Scalise (R-LA) 7/17/23: Tweet – “BREAKING—Tomorrow the House will vote on @RepPfluger’s resolution that definitively states Israel is not a racist state & the U.S. will always support Israel. It should be an easy vote. Will Dems stand with our ally or capitulate to the anti-Semitic radicals in their party?
  • As a reminder, Republicans have used this same playbook numerous times in the past – most notably when they have used criticism of Israel by Reps. Tlaib (D-MI) and Omar (D-MN), or when they used some progressives opposition to extra aid for Israel for Iron Dome, to launch far-reaching attacks — hundreds of statements, tweets, floor action, etc — in effect arguing that (a) Democrats who criticize Israel are guilty of antisemitism and (b) that if Democratic leadership and members won’t attack/denounce/punish the critics of Israel in the ranks, it proves that the Democractic party’s “antisemitism problem” runs deeper than just those criticizing Israel.
  • And in EVERY CASE, a not-insignificant-number of Democrats have joined Republicans in attacking their own colleagues. Notably, doing so has in no way mitigated or staved off Republican attacks against Democrats. Rather, the result has been that Republicans can now quote Democrats to make their argument that the Democratic party has an antisemitism problem (for example, recall the resolution to kick Rep. Omar off the House Foreign Affairs Committee – an resolution comprised almost entirely of quotes from Democrats attacking Omar.
  • As I noted in an interview in November 2022: “ we’ve seen when Iron Dome or Palestinian rights are discussed on the floor, the entire Republican caucus seizes the opportunity and says, ‘Look! Democrats have an antisemitism problem! Ignore the Nazis in our caucus. [Democrats] are the ones with the antisemitism problem.’ Then you see a good part of the Democratic caucus, led by people like Ted Deutch [who recently left Congress and now heads the AJC], joining the pile on and saying, ‘Republicans have an urgent antisemitism problem, but so do we, and we’ll be the first out the gate to shit on our own colleagues.’ I think Republicans would be more than happy to set up situations in which Democrats disagree among themselves. I’ve said for years that as long as Democrats are unwilling to leave space for a spectrum of views on Israel within the caucus, they are handing a weapon to Republicans. And the Republicans don’t even have to use it. They just lob that weapon over and let Democrats use it against each other. They’ve done it over and over and over.”
  • Highly recommened reading: Democrats Locked in Stupidest Fight About Whether Israel Is Racist (The New Republic/Prem Thakker, 7/17/23)

Media (a tiny portion of what is out there)

Members on the Record

Many, many members of both the House and Senate weighed in on these resolutions. For a compendium of many/most of these interventions (by no means exhaustive — there are limits to what one person can do, and thanks to Elon Musk, all of this is now done manually) see: Members on the Record re: Thou Shalt Not Call Israel “Racist” Resolutions

Many of the statements from Republicans focused on the alleged antisemitism [that is, conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism] of the Democratic party — e.g., Donalds (R-FL) 7/19/23: Tweet – “There is a strain of anti-Semitism embedded deep within the Democratic party. Many Dems believe Israel should give up more territory & even question its existence. Proud to have joined my @HouseGOP colleagues yesterday in voting to reaffirm support for our friend & ally Israel…” & Nehls (R-TX) 7/18/23: Tweet –9 Democrats refused to condemn antisemitism and support our greatest ally, Israel. Disgraceful.Others doubled and tripled down on the Republicans’ commitment to fight “all forms” of antisemitism — a framing that rings…hollow…to say the least [as called out by Swalwell (D-CA) in a Tweet – “Israel is not a racist state. But is Kevin McCarthy trying to preside over an antisemitic Congress? Kevin uses antisemitic tropes to attack George Soros & now is inviting an antisemitic witness in RFK Jr. to testify to Congress. Antisemitism does not belong in the People’s House.“]. Indeed, one thing that seems clear — even before this week, but even clearer now — is that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle share greater enthusiasm for re-defining “antisemitism” to mean “daring to call out Israel’s racism/dehumanization/discrimination/attacks on Palestinians” and holding people accountable for this alleged sin, than they do for combating actual antisemitism.

Notably, some members who voted “no” or “present” issued statements explaining their positions:

  • Lee (D-PA) 7/18/23: Tweet – “I reject antisemitism and xenophobia in all its forms. 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 & democratic values. I cannot vote for unconditional support of any nation-state.”
  • Tlaib (D-MI) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Israel is an apartheid state. Let’s take a moment just to hear the Israeli government’s own politicians in their own words, not mine.” [including video of her comments on the House floor]
  • McCollum (D-MN) 7/18/23: Tweets – “Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians deserve genuine steps forward on the goal of peace, not more division and political gamesmanship. But H.Con.Res.57 just seeks to silence important conversations about Palestinian human rights. (1/2) I will not be silenced. I’ll keep speaking up against antisemitism, oppression, and hate in all its forms. My full statement on H.Con.Res.57 link (2/2)”
  • Omar (D-MN) 7/18/23: Twitter thread – “I’m voting against this resolution. It was designed by MAGA Republicans to target and shame a colleague, Pramila Jayapal, for comments for which she apologized and clarified. While I strongly agree with explicitly and affirmatively rejecting xenophobia and antisemitism, conflating antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli government is wrong. Multiple human rights groups—including Israel’s leading human rights group B’tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International—have found that the Israeli government’s policies meet the legal definition of apartheid. While the term may be discomforting, I don’t believe it is appropriate for Congress to be explicitly targeting the legal findings of human rights groups in this way. We shouldn’t allow for the silencing of voices supporting Palestinian human rights.
  • Ramirez (D-IL) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Antisemitism is real, deadly, & I wholly condemn it. I firmly stand in solidarity with all who work to uphold the human rights & self-determination of Palestinians & Israelis as co-equals. Because lives and democracy are at stake. That is why I voted NO on H. Con. Res. 57image [full statement: “The threat of antisemitism is real, it is deadly, and I wholly condemn it in the strongest terms. I am clear that Republicans have no real commitment to stand up to antisemitism, but will instead take every opportunity to score cheap political points. With no hearing, no markup, and no amendments, the Republican Majority brought forward a resolution introduced only last night for a vote on the House Floor today with the express purpose of turning serious issues related to the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians into little more than right-wing political footballs. As a person of faith, I believe our foreign policy should lift up our shared humanity and prioritize diplomacy. We should support democratic governance that centers the human rights of all people over politics. I believe we need to continue to work towards a world where the full humanity and rights of all Israeli and Palestinians are honored. This resolution does not do that, and therefore, I could not support it. People are not their governments. Jewish people are not a monolith. Our own caucus is not a monolith. Words matter, and in order to recognize that in our actions, we must have a deliberative process that actually invites dialogue, nuance, and truth-telling. The resolution that was voted on today does not reflect these values. Rushed, kneejerk political messaging isn’t what the people of IL-03 sent me to do in Congress. I firmly stand in solidarity with all who work to advance a true and lasting peace that upholds the human rights and self-determination of both Palestinians and Israelis as co-equals. Let’s be clear: lives and democracy are at stake. H. Con. Res. 57 reflected no such commitment, and that is why I voted no.

Also, some members who voted “yes” issued statements conveying their misgivings about the resolutions. For example:

  • Dean (D-PA) 7/18/23: Twitter thread – “Today, I voted for a resolution in support of Israel. I firmly believe in the need for a strong Jewish state and will continue to advocate for peace and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike. But I want to be clear — this resolution was a political stunt. More on that –> In a time when the Israeli government is threatening democracy, fairness, and freedom, criticism is warranted. This Republican majority, that allows its members to spew antisemitic rhetoric unchecked, is once again using Israel and the Jewish people as a political football. Read my full statement here: (link)
  • Schakowsky (D-IL) 7/18/23: Statement – “Today, I intend to vote ‘yes’ in support of a resolution cynically brought forth by Speaker McCarthy and his extremist allies in support of Israel. I have always supported the existence of a Jewish and democratic state of Israel, as have the vast majority of my Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives. I continue to value the strong partnership between Israel and the United States and understand the crucial need for a strong Jewish state. And for my entire career, I have vocally supported justice for Palestinians, an end to the occupation, and a two-state solution guaranteeing the rights of all. But unlike my Republican colleagues, who cower in fear of Donald Trump’s seditious, democracy-crushing shadow, being a staunch ally means telling the truth. And the truth is that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the extremists in his current government, have for decades systematically undermined a two-state solution by supporting settlement expansion, pushing Palestinians from their ancestral homes, and working towards de facto annexation of the West Bank. And now we see Netanyahu dead set on undermining Israel’s very own democracy via a misguided judicial reform process. These actions are in direct conflict with US policy that has been overseen by successive bipartisan Administrations for decades until the emergence of twice-impeached, and now twice-indicted, former President Trump. Despite the grave challenges we face, I remain committed to doing everything in my power to fight for Israel’s democracy, and for a two-state solution that can guarantee peace, prosperity, and security for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.
  • Pocan (D-WI) 7/18/23: statement – “This resolution is aspirational: it embodies what Israel wants to be and what we hope it is. But if we want to make this vision a reality, then as friends of Israel, we must point out the significant barriers to those aspirations – as any good friend would. We must recognize that the expansion of illegal settlements, settler terrorism, and inhumane conditions in Gaza make meaningful peace elusive, as do rocket attacks against Israelis by extremists in Gaza. I believe the best thing the United States can do to support Israel and Palestine and work toward peace in the region would be for the State Department to appoint a Special Envoy, with deep roots in both communities, who can bring the parties together to find a path towards peace. Israel is a friend of the United States. Criticism of the Israeli government and their actions is not antisemitism – it’s real and honest friendship.” Also tweet.

(ESCALATING TARGETING OF JAYAPAL – BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY ARE)  H. Res. 606: Introduced 7/20/23 by Ogles (R-TN), Weber (R-TX), and Duncan (R-SC), “Censuring Pramila Jayapal, Representative of the 7th Congressional District of Washington.” The resolution – which is a transparent effort to escalate the use of Israel as a political/partisan weapon of mass  destruction – opens with “Whereas Representative Pramila Jayapal has promoted antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiment through her congressional career.” It also states that accusing Israel of racism or apartheid are “antisemitic tropes” [a term whose political elasticity has an excellent track record, most notably with its use to describe Rep. Omar’s use of “all about the Benjamins,” notwithstanding the fact that this same phrase, used by anyone else in any other context, is NOT views as an antisemitic trope]. The resolution also asserts that use these terms – which, based on massively researched/documented analysis, are used today by all major international human rights groups and by Israeli human rights and civil rights organizations — “only serve to falsify the historical record and justify continued terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.” Referred to the House Committee on Ethics.

(US MUST INVEST MASSIVELY IN EXPANDING/DEEPENING NORMALIZATION!) S. 2413 (pdf): Introduced 7/20/23 by Menendez (D-NJ), Risch (R-ID), Rosen (D-NV), Ernst (R-IA), Booker (D-NJ) and Lankford (R-OK), “A bill to expand and strengthen the Abraham Accords and the Negev Forum, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Regional Integration and Normalization Act.” Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez’s press release, which summarizes that the 49-page bill as follows:

1. Authorizes the Regional Integration Office and Special Presidential Envoy: Creates the Regional Integration Office, headed by a Special Presidential Envoy for the Abraham Accords, Negev Forum, and Related Normalization Agreements, reporting directly to the Secretary of State. The Special Envoy will lead on pursuing additional opportunities to normalize relations with Israel; advance negotiations on an economic and security framework; and harness whole-of-government resources to deliver tangible benefits to the region.

2. Establishes Regional Integration Opportunity Fund: Sets up a $105 million fund, the “Abraham Accords, Negev Forum, and Regional Integration Opportunity Fund,” for fiscal years 2024 through 2030. The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Special Envoy, may use these funds or transfer them to other departments or agencies to help advance regional integration and normalization, and encourage public and private sector investment.

3. Authorizes New Funds to Deepen the Abraham Accords and Negev Forum, and Expand Normalization and Integration: Authorizes $6 million for USAID’s Middle East Regional Cooperation program, which provides grants to joint Arab-Israel scientific institution for fiscal year 2024; Authorizes $2.5 million for the State Department for each of the fiscal years 2024 through 2028 to promote interfaith dialogue, desalination efforts, and other multilateral initiatives; Authorizes $4 million for fiscal years 2024 through 2028 to finance cooperative projects relating to water resources, agriculture, and energy storage; Authorizes $1 million to facilitate educational and cultural exchange programs between Israel and other Abraham Accords and Negev Forum countries and other partners.

4. Supports the development of an Abraham Accords, and Negev Forum Economic Partnership: Expresses the sense of Congress that the Special Envoy should work to develop and negotiate a framework for economic development and cooperation between Abraham Accords and Negev Forum countries.

5. Expands BIRD, BSF, and BARD: Authorizes new grants to Abraham Accords and Negev Forum countries provided under three funds: the Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), and Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD).

6. Supports Joint Cybersecurity Training and Information Sharing: Authorizes the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security to engage in joint cybersecurity training and information sharing activities with Abraham Accords and Negev Forum countries.

7. Establishes Young Middle East Leaders Initiative (YMELI): Sets up a Young Middle East Leaders Initiative modeled off the Young African Leaders Initiatives to provide fellowships, leadership programs, and cultural exchange opportunities for youth between 18 and 35 from Negev Forum countries, as well as from other key partners in the region.

8. Supports Cross-Regional Structures: Expresses the Sense of Congress that the U.S. should model off of the ambitious I2U2’s Leaders Summits & Business Forum and should consider expansion of the format across the Middle East and Indo-Pacific, including with Saudi Arabia.

Also see:

  • Tweets & press release: Menendez (D-NJ), Lankford (R-OK), AIPAC, Lankford (R-OK), Ernst (R-IA) 
  • NOTE: As pointed out on Twitter by the eagle-eyed Joel Braunold (of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace), perhaps without Democratic cosponsors understanding what they are doing,  this legislation appears to (possibly) open the door for U.S. funding of West Bank settlements:New AA accords bill just dropped – lots in there but point 5 is very interesting for two reasons – expands all the scientific bilat foundations (BIRD etc) for AA countries. Interesting as 1) Israeli industry will lose more grants 2) post Friedman Oct 20 funds can go to WB. Despite policy return to pre Oct 20 by Biden admin – the documents haven’t been rewritten meaning in a future admin that goes by the signed agreement – these can be used for AA investments with institutions across Green Line.”
  • Jewish Insider 7/21/23: Senate Foreign Relations, Abraham Accords Caucus leaders introduce sweeping Abraham Accords legislation

(MORE US-ISRAEL DEFENSE COOPERATION!) HR 4709: Introduced 7/18/23 by Gottheimer (D-NJ) and 36 bipartisan cosponsors, “To amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, to make improvements relating to cooperation between the United States and Israel to counter unmanned aerial systems, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(c) Iran & Hizballah

(TARGETING IRAN — BLOCKING IRAN SANCTIONS WAIVERS) HR 4691: Introduced 7/17/23 by Self (R-TX) and 5 Republican cosponsors, “To provide for congressional review of actions to terminate or waive sanctions imposed with respect to Iran,” aka the “Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act (ISRRA) of 2023.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as the Committees on Financial Services, the Judiciary, Oversight and Accountability, Ways and Means, and Rules.

Also see:

(TARGETING IRAN — BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT) S. 2336: Introduced 7/18/23 by Menendez (D-NJ) and Hagerty (R-TN), “A bill to address the threat from the development of Iran’s ballistic missile program and the transfer or deployment of Iranian missiles and related goods and technology, including materials and equipment, and for other purposes,” aka, the “MISSILES Act.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Also see:

(EU – DESIGNATE HIZBALLAH A TERROR ORG) S. Res. 299/H. Res. 599: Introduced 7/18/23 in the Senate by Rosen (D-NV) and Blackburn (R-TN) and in the House by Schneider (D-IL) and 29 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution supporting cooperation between the United States and the European Union to thwart Hizballah’s criminal and terrorist activities and to bring Hizballah operatives to justice and urging the European Union to designate Hizballah, in its entirety, as a terrorist organization.” Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively.

Also see:

(d) Syria

(MIDDLE EAST DRUG TRADE) HR 4681 (pdf): Introduced 7/17/23 by Hill (R-AR) and Moskowitz (D-FL), “To provide for the imposition of sanctions with respect to illicit captagon trafficking,” aka, the “Illicit Captagon Trafficking Suppression Act.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary. Also see Hill’s press release – REP. HILL INTRODUCES BILL TO IMPOSE NEW SANCTIONS ON ASSAD’S PRODUCTION AND TRAFFICKING OF THE TOXIC NARCOTIC CAPTAGON

(NO NORMALIZATION WITH ASSAD REGIME) S. 2342 (pdf): Introduced 7/18/23 by Durbin (D-IL) and Rubio (R-FL), “A bill to prohibit any official action to recognize or normalize relations with any Government of Syria that is led by Bashar al-Assad,” aka, the “Assad Regime Anti-Normalization Act of 2023.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Also see Durbin’s press release – Durbin, Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Prohibit Normalized Relations With Assad’s Syria

(NEED ACCOUNTABILITY FOR 1994 AMIA BOMBING) H. Res. 600: Introduced 7/18/23 by Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, “Condemning the attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in July 1994, and expressing the concern of the United States regarding the continuing, 29-year-long delay in the resolution of this case and encouraging accountability for the attack.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(e) Syria & Yemen Executive Orders

(ENDING SYRIA NATIONAL EMERGENCY) H. J. Res. 79: Introduced 7/6/23 by Gaetz (R-FL) and Gosar (R-AZ), “Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on May 11, 2004.” This resolution sought to terminate “the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on May 11, 2004, in Executive Order 13338…” Reminder — Executive Order 13338, issued by President George W. Bush, was  entitled, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting the Export of Certain Goods to Syria.” On 7/18/23, H. J. Res. 79 was brought to the House floor for a vote, where it failed by a roll call vote of 24 – 394.

(ENDING YEMEN NATIONAL EMERGENCY) H. J. Res. 74: Introduced 6/15/23 by Gosar (R-AZ), “Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on May 16, 2012.” This resolution sought to terminate “the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on May 16, 2012, in Executive Order 13611…” Reminder — Executive Order 13611, issued by President Barak Obama, was entitled, “Blocking Property of Persons Threatening the Peace, Security, or Stability of Yemen“. On 7/18/23, H. J. Res. 79 was brought to the House floor for a vote, where it failed by a roll call vote of 27-393.

Also see (re: both of the resolutions above):

  • Floor consideration — H. J. Res. 74H. J. Res. 79
  • Lawler (R-NY) 7/19/23: Tweet – “Emergency declarations have provided legal basis for critical sanctions programs. That’s why I spoke against yesterday’s resolutions that would undermine key counterterrorism and security efforts. I was glad to see these resolutions overwhelmingly rejected on a bipartisan basis.”
  • Armstrong (R-ND) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Today I voted against multiple resolutions that would weaken our military position and enrich our adversaries. These resolutions would have lifted sanctions and unfroze the assets of more than 1,000 individuals associated with atrocities in the Congo, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, & Syria.”
  • Steil (R-WI) 7/18/23: Twitter thread – “Today, I will vote against several resolutions that would embolden our adversaries and weaken America. Here’s why: H.J. Res 68 would end the 2006 emergency declaration and unfreeze assets of Russian arms dealer Vikor Bout, famously known as the “Merchant of Death” who was most recently involved in a prisoner exchange and accused of supplying weapons to Al Qaeda. H.J. Res 70 would end the 2011 emergency declaration and unfreeze assets held by the Libyan government and those responsible for grotesque human rights abuses. H.J. Res 74 would end the 2012 emergency declaration and unfreeze assets of the Iran-backed Houthis, a group responsible for launching terrorist attacks and who’s slogan is literally “death to America”. H.J. Res 71 would end the 2003 emergency declaration and unfreeze assets of Iran-backed militia leaders targeting US forces, which would result in terror throughout Iran. H.J. Res 79 would end the 2004 emergency declaration and unfreeze the assets of the Assad regime who has facilitated war crimes against Syrian people.


(FORCE PA TO END PRISONER SOCIAL WELFARE PAYMENTS) Gottheimer et al letter to SecState Blinken: On 7/18/23, Rep. Gottheimer (D-NJ) led a letter, cosigned by 49 House collegues (bipartisan), urging the Biden Administration to increase its pressure on Palestinian officials to end payments to Palestinian prisoners (nicknamed “pay for slay”). The letter, notably, makes no mention of the huge numbers of Palestinians killed by Israel in recent days/weeks/months, nor of attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank carried out by Israeli civilians with the tolerance and often the active support of the Israeli military, including against Palestinian-American citizens. Rather, the letter focuses on the (fallacious) argument that any and all Palestinian attacks against Israelis (including against Israeli soldiers) are the result of payments by the PA. The signers conclude: “We know that the Administration shares the view that support for terrorism and the Palestinians’ characterization of the martyr payment system as a form of social welfare is unacceptable. Yet, five years after the Taylor Force Act was signed into law, the PA continues to bolster the Martyrs’ Fund. To maintain a political horizon in support of a viable two-state solution [framing that seems to be borrowed from the pages of The Onion], the PA cannot continue this depraved practice. U.S.-Palestinian ties have improved in recent years, and the Biden Administration is uniquely positioned to change the status quo. As such, we encourage the State Department to update Congress on the status of negotiating an end to the ‘pay for slay” program, and urge the Administration to continue to raise this issue with Palestinian officials. The United States is a trusted regional partner, and must utilize this unique position to bring an end to a system that has harmed so many.”

Also see:

(DEAR SENATE: PLEASE STOP BLOCKING CONFIRMATION OF US US AMBASSADOR NOMINEES) SecState Blinken letter to US Senators: On 7/17/23 SecState Blinken sent a letter to all members of the US Senate highlighting the failure of the Senate to confirm State Department nominees, including ambassadors. The letter notes: “…only five State Department nominees have been confirmed to date in 2023. Holds on the Senate floor have prevented dozens of career State Department nominees from fulfilling their roles in Washington, D.C. and critical posts overseas. In previous administrations, most career, nonpartisan nominees would receive agreement to advance via unanimous consent. This allowed career public servants to receive confirmation and assume their posts at embassies to advance the interests of the American people without delay. This year, only one Department nominee has been confirmed by unanimous consent. Currently, we have 62 State nominees outstanding with the Senate, including 38 ambassadorial nominees on the Senate floor awaiting confirmation [of which 25 are career Foreign Service Officers] for posts in Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa — where U.S. leadership is desperately needed.” Blinken goes on: “If the new standard is that career State nominees are subject to holds unrelated to the merits of their nominations, and must be individually confirmed by floor vote, then our leadership and standing in the world will suffer, with dozens of continuous vacancies that will take years to resolve, if ever. Our diplomatic strength will be weakened and competitors will gain at our expense.” He closes asking Senate leadership to swiftly confirm State Department nominees on the floor, and ask that senators who have put a hold on one or more of the pending nominees “reconsider or work with the Department to find  reasonable and expedited path forward” and asks senators who are NOT behind these holds “to talk to your colleagues who are. Our foreign policy and national security interests are depending on it.” The letter includes a list of nominees who are stalled in the Senate, including nominees for the job of ambassador in UAE, Jordan, Oman, and Lebanon. Also see: Republican senators vow to delay Biden nominees over ‘anti-Israel’ policies [“Senators link Biden administration’s decision to suspend transfer of funds for research projects in occupied West Bank to BDS movement“] (Middle East Eye 7/12/23)

(STOP CHINESE FUNDING FOR IRAN) Hagerty et al letter to Blinken: On 7/14/23 Sens. Hagerty (R-TN) and 7 Republican Senate colleagues sent a letter to SecState Blinken and Treasury Secretary Yellen, requesting them to “develop a strategy to prevent Iran’s petrochemical industry from supporting the regime’s nefarious activities.  This strategy must include additional sanctions against PRC individuals and entities that continue to purchase, refine, or otherwise deal in sanctioned Iranian-origin oil.” The letter goes on: “To further vital U.S. national security interests and curb the Iranian regime’s malign conduct, we respectfully request that you immediately enforce existing sanctions, including those in Executive Order 13846, and expand sanctions designations to include those who store Iranian oil, ship-to-ship oil transfer operators, individuals and entities, ports and port operators, and refineries and refinery operators – particularly in the PRC – dealing in Iranian-origin oil and petrochemicals.” Also see Hagerty press release.


2. Israeli President on the Hill

On 7/19/23, Israeli president Isaac Herzog addressed a joint session of Congress. The event was boycotted by 10 Democrats — Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Tlaib (D-MI), Bowman (D-NY), Lee (D-PA), Omar (D-MN), Bush (D-MO), Carson (D-IN), Ramirez (D-IL), Pressley (D-MA), Sanders (I-VT) — some of whom have in the past boycotted addresses by other foreign leaders (a fact that did not prevent some critics from labeling the decision to boycott the Israeli President as anti-Israel, antisemitic, and a form of BDS). GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley tweeted the list of the members who boycotted the address, commenting: “We’re taking names…These 9 members of Congress believe Israel is racist. We will remember this vote.” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted in response, “Oooh, a list! Remember to call it ‘People in Congress who think apartheid is wrong’ or alternatively, ‘People in Congress who don’t ignore human rights abuses against Palestinians’”.

Full text of Herzog’s speech to Congress is here. Notably, Herzog directly addressed the ongoing kerfuffle over criticism of Israel:

“Mr. Speaker, I am not oblivious to criticism among friends, including some expressed by respected members of this House. I respect criticism, especially from friends, although one does not always have to accept it. But criticism of Israel must not cross the line into negation of the State of Israel’s right to exist. Questioning the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, is not legitimate diplomacy, it is antisemitism. Vilifying and attacking Jews, whether in Israel, in the United States, or anywhere in the world is antisemitism. Antisemitism is a disgrace in every form, and I commend President Joe Biden for laying out the United States’ first ever National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism.

With this speech, Herzog in effect told Congress that any meaningful criticism of Israel or rejection of Zionism is antisemitism, and erased any distinction between “Jews” and “Israelis,” such that – according to his formula – “villifying and attacking” Israelis  – by anyone, for any reason, in any context – can only be antisemitism. Also note that Herzog does not make clear what he means by “attacking.” As a reminder, Israel has referred to developments it doesn’t like at the UN and ICC as “diplomatic terrorism“; to calls to boycott settlements and/or Israel as “economic terrorism” (and this includes Herzog himself, who in 2021, in the context of the decision of Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling in settlements, said: “The boycott against Israel is a new type of terror, economic terror, a terror that tries to harm Israeli citizens and Israel’s economy”); to media coverage it doesn’t like as “journalistic terror“; to hunger strikes by Palestinians as “suicide terror“; etc…”

Media (a tiny portion of what is out there)

Member Tweets/statements

Many, many members of both the House and Senate weighed in on Herzog’s visit, mainly tout their love and support for Israel and to attack members who had announced they would not attend the session. Leveraging the kerfuffle around Rep. Jayapal’s comments about Israeli racism (discussed in detail in Section 4, below), many Republicans also used Herzog’s visit as a hook to accuse Democrats of antisemitism.  For a compendium of many/most of these interventions (by no means exhaustive — there are limits to what one person can do, and thanks to Elon Musk, all of this is now done manually) see: Members on the Record re: President Herzog Address to Congress.

A handful of members who elected not to attend the session issued statements/tweets laying out their reasons:

  • Tlaib (D-MI) & Bush (D-MO) joint statement 7/18/23: “Bestowing President Herzog with the rare honor of a joint address to Congress while the Israeli apartheid government continues to enable and directly support racism and brutal settler attacks is a slap in the face to victims, survivors, and their loved ones—including the families of Americans murdered by this regime like Shireen Abu Akleh and Omar Assad.  It’s contradictory to claim to support human rights when you’re arming the oppressors with billions of dollars of bullets and bombs. It is hypocritical to claim to be deeply concerned about attacks on Palestinian families, and then smile for a photo op with the president of the government enabling these human rights abuses and maintaining the status quo. The facts are clear, and the international consensus is resounding—Israel is an apartheid state. To assert otherwise in the face of the colossal body of evidence and the consensus of the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem—the largest human rights organization in Israel—and countless others is to deny this reality.  This year alone, the far-right Israeli government has approved the construction of over 13,000 illegal settlement units on Palestinian land—which the U.S. government has repeatedly condemned—and the Israeli army has killed at least 177 Palestinians. Members of the far-right Israeli government have made disgusting statements dehumanizing and denying the existence of Palestinians, calling for Palestinian villages to be “erased,” celebrating nationalist racists, and promising that a fully sovereign Palestinian state will not be created. This is the government that we are protesting.  Bipartisanship must not be used as a justification for apartheid. It’s important to remember that South Africa’s apartheid government also had bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. It is shameful to deliberately ignore—and even normalize—this racist and oppressive system of apartheid by welcoming President Herzog or any member of the Israeli government to address Congress. In solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those who have been harmed by the Israeli apartheid government and their policies, we will be boycotting President Herzog’s joint address to Congress. When violence occurs at the hand of the state against marginalized communities anywhere, we speak up. We do not look the other way. Racism and oppression must not be tolerated in America or anywhere else in the world. We urge all Members of Congress who stand for human rights for all to join us in boycotting apartheid.” Also via Twitter
  • Velazquez (D-NY) 7/19/23: Tweet – “I support self-determination for all peoples, whether they be Israeli, Palestinian, or Puerto Rican. I believe the Israeli govt is undermining this ideal with their actions to weaken Democracy and expand settlements. That’s why I won’t be attending President Herzog’s address.” (image of full statement)
  • Tlaib (D-MI) 7/17/23: Tweet – “In solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those who have been harmed by Israel’s apartheid government, I will be boycotting President Herzog’s joint address to Congress. I urge all Members of Congress who stand for human rights for all to join me. #BoycottApartheid
  • Bowman (D-NY) 7/18/23: Twitter thread – “From Israel to India, we must hold our allies accountable when it comes to human rights violations and the abuses of far-right governments, which is why I will not be attending Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress tomorrow. I’ve had the opportunity to meet President Herzog in Israel and voice my concerns and understand this pathway towards freedom and safety for Israelis and Palestinians alike. His responses to my inquiry were not aligned to moving us toward a two state solution. My decision to not attend in no way stems from a lack of support for the existence of the State of Israel. On the contrary, it is out of concern that there is no sense of urgency about ensuring the safety and security of all Israelis and Palestinians in the region and finally achieving a two-state solution. This is also an informed decision out of engagement and deep listening to President Herzog, members of parliament, Israeli and Palestinian scholars, and community members in the region who experienced settler violence and dispossession. While President Herzog has stated settlements should be frozen and claims to opposes settler violence, he has remained silent as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has expanded settlements that are illegal under international law and has appointed Ministers that seek the… anti-democratic annexation of the West Bank and the demise of any two state solution with the Palestinians. He was also silent and inactive during the previous administration. While I appreciate and understand that the invitation to Herzog to speak to Congress over Netanyahu is a strong statement against Netanyahu’s extremist actions, Herzog on his own must answer key questions on how we will arrive to a two state solution and ending annexation… child detention, home demolition, settler violence and the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The United States government should give this prestigious platform at times when our allies are standing as beacons and examples of our values. At this time, although Herzog is viewed as a centrist statesman, he has not yet shown the actions of pro-democracy and a pro-peace agenda. I strongly support a democratic Israel and a Palestinian state that are able to thrive with peace and security. A true two-state solution is the pathway towards peace and security for all in the region. It’s way past time that we stop using a two state solution as a talking point and actually get it done.

Also, some members attended but still expressed some concerns:

  • Van Hollen (D-MD) and Merkley (D-OR) 7/19/23: Joint Statement in Response to President Herzog’s Address [“Let us start by being clear: We warmly welcomed the visit of President Herzog to the United States and support what he said in his Joint Session to Congress today. It is what he did not say that disappoints us. While he welcomed achieving peace with the Palestinians, he never mentioned the long-standing, bipartisan U.S. policy in support of a two-state solution, including President Biden’s call for ‘two states for two peoples’ with ‘both peoples enjoying equal measure of freedom and dignity.’ He rightly called for an end to any violence committed by Palestinians, but he did nothing to acknowledge the scourge of attacks and violence being committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinian villagers, which the heads of Israel’s security agencies have condemned as ‘terrorism.’ Nor did he address the extremist words and actions of key members of the current Israeli government. It’s plain to see that the current path threatens the future of democracy in Israel. We are at a fork in the road. Now is the time for all who care about Israel to work together on a negotiated agreement that honors the democratic traditions of Israel and respects the human rights of the Palestinian people.”]

3. Thou Shalt Not Call Israel “Racist”!

On July 15th, at a session during the Netroots conference in Chicago, Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) sprang to the defense of fellow House member Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL), in the face of Palestine rights activists protesting Schakowsky. Notably, some pundits suggested that the targeting of Schakowsky – the only Jewish person on the panel – was itself antisemitic; this argument is powerfully countered by the activists’ flyer (circulating on social media since the event) laying out the reasons for their protest and their demands, which make clear the protest was led/organized by local activists (remember, Schakowsky is a Chicago-area representative), and focused on her  failure to cosponsor the “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” (117th Congress – HR 2590; 118th Congress – HR 3103  support for Israel makes clear that ). Regardless — in defending Schakowsky, Jayapal made a powerful statement that included the phrase, “Israel is a racist state.” That snippet set off a firestorm of outrage that quickly escalated into a full-scale political conflagration, even after she clarified her comments to make clear that when she used the word “racist” she was referring to specific policies and actions of Israel, not the existence of the state itself.

A small number of progressive Democrats have unequivocally defended Jayapal. A larger number of Democrats slammed Jayapal – reciting various versions of the mantra, “THOU SHALT NOT CALL ISRAEL RACIST,” even as the welcomed – some seemingly grudgingly, some with apparent relief – what was widely depicted as a “walk back” of her original comments (to be clear, her clarification was itself a powerful statement in terms of criticsm of Israel), even as the recited their own formulas of devout love for and fidelity to Israel. In parallel, House Republicans: (a) gleefully attacked Jayapal and leveraged the opportunity to attack other progressive Democrats, and in particular members of the Squad; and (b) shamelessly exploited the opportunity to accuse Democrats of being anti-Israel and antisemitic — culminating in the introduction/vote on H. Con. Res. 57, the “thou shalt not call Israel racist or apartheid” resolution, aka, the “these members doth protest too much that Israel isn’t racist” resolution see Section 1, above, for full details.

As a reminder, the bipartisan “THOU SHALT NOT CALL ISRAEL RACIST” mantra (as faithfully recited by members and in the House and Senate resolutions) demands that people:

  • ignore the explicit racism inherent in Israeli actions, policies, and laws (1948-present) that are explicitly designed protect & advance the interests and ambitions of Jewish Israelis via the systematic dispossession, discrimination against, and violation of the rights and equities of Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, Palestinians living in the OPT, and Palestinian refugees everywhere;
  • close their eyes to the well-documented and widely reported Israel racism policies and actions, backed by the State, against refugees, Christians, guest workers, and more; and
  • plug their ears and sing “nyah-nyah-nyah-I-can’t-hear-you” in the face of the brazen – indeed, proud and unapologetic – racism at the core of the current Israeli government, starting with PM Netanyahu’s declaration that “The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel,” defined to include all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and extending to powerful government ministers and members with log and proud histories of overt dehumanization and racism of Palestinians.

Media (a tiny portion of what is out there)

Jerusalem Post 7/17/23: Jewish members of Congress slam Jayapal for calling Israel ‘racist’ [“We will never allow anti-Zionist voices that embolden antisemitism to hijack the Democratic Party and country.”]

Times of Israel/JTA 7/17/23: US House’s top progressive walks back claim Israel is a ‘racist state’ amid uproar [“Jayapal says she does not believe ‘Israel as a nation is racist’ but that its ‘government has engaged in racist policies,’ after her party’s leaders pushed back on earlier remark”]

The New Republic 7/17/23: Democrats Locked in Stupidest Fight About Whether Israel Is Racist

Jewish Insider 7/17/23: Mike Pence speaks out against growing antisemitism in politics ahead of CUFI speech [“Former Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview on Monday that Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-WA) recent comments describing Israel as ‘a racist state’ were ‘a disgrace,’ even as he acknowledged that she had since walked back her remarks amid criticism from members of both parties. ‘I’m glad she took it back,’ Pence told Jewish Insider at the Washington, D.C., offices of his political advocacy group, Advancing American Freedom. ‘But it was still a disgrace.’ The former vice president, who launched his campaign for president last month, also took aim at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for espousing ‘antisemitic tropes’ — and for more recently joining a handful of House Democrats who announced they will boycott Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress this week…”]

Mondoweiss 7/17/23: Democratic party fissures on display as Jayapal walks back Israel criticism

New York Times 7/17/23: The Hysterical Overreaction to Jayapal’s ‘Racist State’ Gaffe

Haaretz 7/17/23: Top Progressive Democrat Clarifies: Israel Not Racist, Netanyahu Gov’t Has Racist Policies

CNN 7/16/23: Top House Democrats rebuke Jayapal comments that Israel is a ‘racist state’ as she tries to walk them back

Fox News 7/16/23: ‘Squad’ Dem faces backlash for smearing Israel as ‘racist state’: ‘Truly disgusting’ [“Video of exchange quickly went viral, with wide variety of criticism toward Jayapal”]

Jewish Insider 7/16/23: House Democratic leaders reject Jayapal’s remarks: ‘Israel is not a racist state’

Jewish News Syndicate 7/16/23:  After calling Israel ‘racist state,’ Rep. Jayapal says ‘idea of Israel’ not racist

Politico 7/16/23:  Congressional Progressive Caucus chair walks back comment on Israel being ‘racist’

Reuters 7/16/23: Progressive US Democrat Jayapal apologizes for calling Israel ‘racist’

YNet 7/16/23 (Emily Schrader): US Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal brands Israel a ‘racist state’ [“In a video that has gone viral, US Representative Pramila Jayapal makes comments after anti-Israel protesters disrupted a panel she was part of, at the Netroots Nation conference in Chicago.“]

Haaretz 7/15/23: Top Progressive Democrat: Israel Is Racist State, Two-state Solution Doesn’t Feel Possible [“Rep. Pramila Jayapal said ‘we’ve been fighting to make it clear that… the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy, that the dream of a two-state solution is slipping away’ amid growing boycott of Israeli president’s Congress speech“]

Members on the Record

Many, many members of both the House and Senate weighed, mainly to strenuously denouncing Jayapal and her comment (and that includes members on both sides of the aisle), to reject the very idea that the term “racist” could EVER be applied to anything related to Israel, and to tout their unconditional, unwavering love and support for Israel. Republicans also seized on the opportunity to accuse the Squad, and Democrats in general, of antisemitism.  For a compendium of many/most of these interventions (by no means exhaustive — there are limits to what one person can do, and thanks to Elon Musk, all of this is now done manually) see: Members on the Record re: Responding to Jayapal Using term “Racist” to describe Israel

A few members did speak up to defend Jayapal:

  • Omar (D-MN) 7/18/23: Twitter thread – “We spend too much time policing the language of Black and brown women who speak out against oppression and not enough time ending the oppression of Black and brown people. I am proud to call @RepJayapal a colleague, a friend and our CPC Chair. I am also deeply concerned about the shaming—often of women of color—when they speak out about human rights violations happening in Palestine and Israel, especially when similar concern is not expressed for the lives being lost and families being torn apart. It is not only morally wrong, but routinely gives the current MAGA leadership of the Republican Party a cudgel to use against Democrats. Rep. Jayapal apologized for her wording. Dem leaders should accept that and move on, not join the GOP in continuing to shame her.”
  • Ramirez (D-IL) 7/18/23: Twitter thread – “@RepJayapal is a colleague and a friend. She is a principled Chair who supports the Members of the @USProgressives. She’s a champion for human rights and peace in the U.S. and around the world. (1/3) She is also one of a very few Brown, immigrant women in U.S. Congress – an institution that isn’t designed for Black, Brown & immigrant folks. This place often tries to silence us, especially when we speak out for the rights of other black & brown folks around the world. (2/3) These attempts to silence us only show how badly our voice is needed here. (3/3)
  • Casar (D-TX) 7/17/23: Tweet – “.@RepJayapal is our Chair of the Progressive Caucus, a brilliant and kind leader, and a defender of human rights around the world. I urge everyone to read her statement. We should all be supporting her honest and thoughtful leadership in Congress.” Linked to Jayapal statement.
  • Jayapal (D-WA) 7/17/23: Tweet – “‘The rush to condemn her offhand remarks is […] about raising the political price of speaking about Israel forthrightly. […] It’s easier for Israel’s most stalwart boosters to harp on a critic’s slight misstatement‘” Linked to NYT article, The Hysterical Overreaction to Jayapal’s ‘Racist State’ Gaffe
  • Tlaib (D-MI) 7/17/23: Tweet – “The Israeli government is committing the crime of apartheid according to the @UN, @HRW, @Amnesty International, & @BTselem (the largest human rights organization in Israel). Apartheid is a racist system of oppression.
  • Jayapal (D-WA) 7/16/23: statement – Jayapal Statement on Israel Comments [At a conference, I attempted to defuse a tense situation during a panel where fellow members of Congress were being protested. Words do matter and so it is important that I clarify my statement. I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist. I do, however, believe that Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government has engaged in discriminatory and outright racist policies and that there are extreme racists driving that policy within the leadership of the current government. I believe it is incumbent on all of us who are striving to make our world a more just and equitable place to call out and condemn these policies and this current Netanyahu government’s role in furthering them. I have always worked toward a two-state solution that allows both Israelis and Palestinians to live freely, safely, and with self-determination alongside each other and that is still what I am absolutely committed to. I also know that the many policies of the current Israeli government, including rampant settlement expansion, make it extremely difficult for Palestinians who simply want the same rights as their Israeli neighbors to believe such a solution is possible. On a very human level, I was also responding to the deep pain and hopelessness that exists for Palestinians and their diaspora communities when it comes to this debate, but I in no way intended to deny the deep pain and hurt of Israelis and their Jewish diaspora community that still reels from the trauma of pogroms and persecution, the Holocaust, and continuing anti-semitism and hate violence that is rampant today. As an immigrant woman of color who has fought my whole life against racism, hate, and discrimination of all kinds and viscerally feels when anyone’s very existence is called into question, I am deeply aware of the many challenges we face in our own country to live up to the ideals of our nation here. The only way through these difficult moments is to have real conversations where we develop our own understanding of each other and the traumas we all hold. These are not easy conversations but they are important ones if we are ever to move forward. It is in that spirit that I offer my apologies to those who I have hurt with my words, and offer this clarification. We know that the status quo is unacceptable, untenable, and unjust. It will take all of us — elected officials, movement activists, advocates, and communities — to work together for real progress.“] Also see Tweet

Pro-Israel Groups on Jayapal Controversy

Conference of Presidents 6/16/23: Jewish Leaders Express Profound Disappointment at Recent Statement by Representative Pramila Jayapal

AIPAC 7/17/23: Tweet – “J Street’s champion admitted she’s been working to brand Israel as a racist state. @jstreetdotorg is many things, but it’s not pro-Israel.”

AIPAC 7/16/23: Tweet – “J Street endorses Rep. Pramila Jayapal. It raises money for her. She speaks at their events. She has gone on their trips to Israel. J Street celebrates and supports members of Congress who attack and demonize Israel. @jstreetdotorg is many things, but it’s not pro-Israel.”

Republican Jewish Coalition 7/17/23: Tweet – “The anti-Israel caucus of the Democratic Party continues to gain strength. First, multiple House Democrats – @IlhanMN, @JamaalBowmanNY, @AOC – announced they will be boycotting the President of Israel’s speech this week.   Over the weekend in Chicago, Democrats’ Senior Whip and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus @PramilaJayapal said ‘Israel is a racist state.’


4. Hearings & Events

July 20, 2023: The Senate Appropirations Committee held a Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2024 Energy and Water Development, State and Foreign Operations, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Acts. As noted in Section 1 (above), the Round-Up is not going to be covering the blow-by-blow of the SFOPS process this year (if and when it looks like there is a bill that will pass, there will be full analysis). However, during the 7/20 Senate markup of the SFOPS bill, Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD) delivered some notable remarks about Israel/Palestine (starting at 02:02:25 in the video) — see Van Hollen’s press release for full text of his remarks.

July 18, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held a 2-panel hearing entitled, The Dire State of Religious Freedom Around the World. Witnesses were: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (statement); Eric Patterson, Religious Freedom Institute (statement); Rev. Susan Hayward, Harvard Divinity School (statement); Rashad Hussain, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom (statement). Also see video. The hearing including extensive discussion of countries in the Middle East and of the Abraham Accords.


5.  Media & Reports

Jewish Insider 7/21/23: Jamaal Bowman’s anti-Israel posture fuels primary opposition back home

Jerusalem Post 7/19/23: Blinken: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, lack envoys due to Senate delays [“The nominations of these critical ambassadors have been ‘irresponsibly’ blocked ‘for leverage on other issues,’ Blinken told reporters on Monday in Washington.”]

Free Beacon 7/18/23: Joni Ernst Blasts Biden Admin’s ‘Appeasement’ of Iran, Outlines Plan To Fight Tehran With Arab Allies

DAWN 7/18/23: 60+ National Organizations Urge Congress to Pursue Justice for Slain Palestinian-American Journalist

Time 7/19/23: The American Public’s Views on Israel Are Undergoing a Profound Shift. Washington Hasn’t Caught Up

Al Jazeera 7/18/23: US groups demand Abu Akleh probe via Justice for Shireen Act

National Review Online 7/17/23: ‘A Boon to the Iranian Regime’: Controversial Initiative by House Firebrands Could Undermine Sanctions

Jewish Insider 7/17/23: Top GOP Senate recruit breaks with party leaders on foreign policy [excerpt – “…while Brown is favored by the GOP establishment, a potentially significant number of Jewish and pro-Israel Republicans are expected to remain loyal to Rosen, a 65-year-old Jewish Democrat who is among the most prominent supporters of Israel on Capitol Hill. In March, she won a crucial endorsement from AIPAC’s bipartisan political action committee, which helped clinch support from conservative donors aligned with AIPAC’s long-standing allegiance to so-called ‘friendly incumbents’ up for reelection. A top Republican donor who is affiliated with AIPAC confirmed he would never “send any money” to Brown ‘while a Democrat is pro-Israel.‘”]

Breitbart 5/17/23: Exclusive — Rep. Claudia Tenney: Biden ‘Not a Strong Supporter of Israel’

Haaretz 7/16/23: ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu Does Not Have Both Hands on the Steering Wheel,’ Democratic Senator Says [“Leading Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Jeff Merkley are sounding the alarm on the Israeli government’s actions after an under-the-radar visit to the region earlier this month”]

Jewish Insider 7/14/23: ‘Israel does not currently meet’ Visa Waiver Program requirements, DHS tells lawmakers [“The department’s response to recent congressional inquiries highlighted continuing issues with reciprocal treatment of Americans”]


6. Members on the Record (Israel/Palestine)

General Statements of Love & Support for Israel (presumably linked to Jayapal controversy & Herzog Visit)

McConnell (R-KY) 7/19/23: U.S., Israel Face Growing Threats To Shared Interests

Luttrell (R-TX) 7/19/23: Tweet – “Israel is a strategic partner and critical ally to America, and I’ll continue to support our partnership as we work to strengthen our great countries and promote peace in the Middle East

McClain (R-MI) 7/18/23: Tweet –The U.S. and Israel have an unbreakable bond and friendship. We will ALWAYS stand side by side with Israel.”

Gimenez (R-FL) 7/18/23: Tweet – “My name is Carlos A. Giménez. I represent Miami-Dade & the Florida Keys in Congress. My community UNEQUIVOCALLY stands with the democratic, Jewish State of #Israel!

Burlison (R-MS) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Israel is one of our nation’s strongest allies. I’m proud to stand with them

Gimenez (R-FL) 7/17/23: Tweet – “I stand with the democratic, Jewish State of Israel!

Cline (R-VA) 7/17/23: Tweet – “Israel is our greatest democratic ally in the Middle East and should be SUPPORTED. Retweet  if you agree!

Carter (R-GA) 7/17/23: Tweet – “RT if you SUPPORT Israel, an important ally and friend of the United States”

Feenstra (R-IA) 7/17/23: Tweet – “The United States will always stand with Israel — our friend and ally in the Middle East.

Bacon (R-NE) 7/17/23: Tweet – “I stand with Israel, one of our most steadfast friends.”

Donalds (R-FL) 7/16/23: Tweet -“STAND WITH ISRAEL

Giving Israel the Visa Waiver Program

Van Hollen (D-MD), Merkley (D-OR), Schatz (D-HI), and Welch (D-VT) 7/19/23: Van Hollen, Merkley, Schatz, Welch Release Statement on U.S. MOU with Israel on Visa Waiver Program [“As longtime supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship, we support Israel’s candidacy to join the Visa Waiver Program once it meets all of the requirements laid out in law. However, Secretary Blinken cannot and should not nominate Israel until he verifies it is in full compliance with these requirements – including equal treatment and freedom of travel for all U.S. citizens regardless of national origin, religion, or ethnicity. This was reaffirmed with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of an amendment last week prohibiting the Secretary from nominating any country that subjects any citizen of the United States to separate entry rules or visa regulations, or otherwise discriminates against a citizen of the United States, on the basis of such United States citizen’s race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or membership in any other protected class recognized by United States law. Furthermore, as the State Department confirmed to us last week, ‘Israel does not currently meet all the statutory and policy requirements for designation as a VWP country.’ While we welcome Israel’s efforts to make policy changes that move towards reciprocal treatment of all U.S. citizens, concerns remain about whether this will meet the ‘blue is blue’ requirement. We’ll be reviewing the proposed changes in more detail and seeking answers to any outstanding questions around this determination. Additionally, the State Department must monitor the proposed changes in Israel’s policies and practices closely to determine whether or not they fully meet these requirements. The United States must ensure that these changes have been implemented and their compliance verified in practice before moving forward with Israel’s candidacy. What’s more, we continue to urge the State Department to adopt mechanisms to monitor this compliance and ensure sufficient time for their review. All U.S. citizens deserve equal treatment under the Visa Waiver Program – and we cannot move forward with Israel’s candidacy until that is guaranteed.”]

Scott (R-FL) and Rosen (D-NV) 7/19/23: press release – Sens. Rick Scott & Jacky Rosen Applaud Steps Taken to Admit Israel into Visa Waiver Program (also Scott tweet, Rosen Tweet)

Israel: Western Sahara Belong to Morocco!

Wilson (R-SC) 7/20/23: Tweet – “Israel’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara is another step in the right direction toward the expansion of the Abraham Accords, which helps facilitate diplomatic and economic connections.

Gonzalez (R-TX) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Heartened to hear of the news that Israel will recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara. This move, thanks to the Abraham Accords, will help to strengthen regional stability and international relations.

McClain (R-MI) 7/18/23: Tweet – Israel’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty in the Western Sahara is great news for both the region and the world, and only through the monumental Abraham Accords is this diplomatic effort possible.”

Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Shindig in DC

Ernst (R-IA) 7/19/23: Ernst Delivers Remarks at the Christians United for Israel Summit 2023

Cruz (R-TX) 7/19/23: Tweet – “I had the opportunity to meet with Christians United for Israel this week to discuss the importance of supporting Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East, and one of our truest friends on the international stage.

Tenney (R-NY) 7/19/23: Tweet – “Yesterday, I spoke at the @CUFI Summit about the anti-Semitic BDS movement, rising anti-Israel sentiments from left-wing politicians, and the threat of Iran’s nuclear program & terrorism. The U.S. must remain steadfast in our support for Israel. I will never waiver in my commitment to our greatest ally in the Middle East!

Cotton (R-AR) 7/19/23: Tweet – “Israel is one of America’s most important allies. I appreciate @CUFI giving me the opportunity to speak about our important relationship.

Boebert (R-CO) 7/19/23: Tweet – “It was my pleasure to host Pastors Jim and Pam Tarr with Christians United for Israel in my Washington DC office for the third consecutive year. As the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States, CUFI’s mission is to educate and empower millions of Americans about Israel. I am committed to standing with CUFI and their mission to defend Israel and to ensure that the United States remains a strong ally to Israel.”

Fulcher (R-ID) 7/19/23: Tweet – “As the House and Senate welcome President Isaac Herzog of Israel to a joint session of Congress today, I was thankful that yesterday, Idahoans with the Christians United for Israel could visit with my staff and me about the importance of American-Israeli relations.

Thune (R-SD) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Thanks to South Dakota @CUFI Summit attendees for stopping by to discuss the enduring importance of the U.S.-Israel alliance. A timely discussion before Israeli President @Isaac_Herzog’s joint address to Congress tomorrow.

Gonzalez (R-TX) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Met with dedicated TX-23 constituents representing @CUFI  to discuss the importance of America’s support for Israel. I let them know they can always count on me to champion their efforts in Congress.”

Lawler (R-NY) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Support for Israel should be bipartisan. I’ve worked with many colleagues on the other side who are strong supporters of Israel, including @RepJoshG, @RepMoskowitz, & @RepRitchie. Unfortunately, others want to make it partisan and undermine our relationship with our closest ally.”

Owens (R-UT) 7/18/23: Tweet – “House Republicans are committed to supporting the nation of Israel. Many thanks to members of @CUFI for sitting down with me in Washington and for the important work you do to strengthen U.S.-Israel ties.”

Ciscomani (R-AZ) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Great to meet with  @CUFI Summit attendees from Tucson today, where we discussed the important partnership between the U.S. and Israel. I’m proud to be a strong advocate in Congress for our relationship with Israel.”

Boozman (R-AR) 7/18/23: Tweet – “It was a pleasure to visit with @CUFI Summit attendees from Arkansas and discuss the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and continuing to support one of our closest and most strategic allies. We appreciate their passion and advocacy on behalf of this vital cause. #ARinDC

Ernst (R-IA) 7/17/23: Tweet – “I’m looking forward to speaking at the @CUFI Summit 2023 tomorrow morning!   America will always stand with Israel!”

Other Matters

Pocan (D-WI) 7/21/23: Tweet – “As my late friend, John Lewis told us – creating some good trouble is the best way to prevent bad laws from getting on the books.” Linked to article, Over 1,000 Air Reservists Threaten to Stop Serving, as Israel’s Political Crisis Grows (New York Times 7/21/23)

Tenney (R-NY) 7/20/23: Tweet – “At every turn, Biden has failed to show our country’s unwavering support for our greatest ally in the Middle East. The U.S. must continue to be a steadfast advocate and reliable partner to Israel.” Linked to Exclusive — Rep. Claudia Tenney: Biden ‘Not a Strong Supporter of Israel’ ( Breitbart 5/17/23)

Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) 7/19/23: Tweet – “A broad consensus of UN experts, @amnestyusa, @hrw, & Israeli human rights orgs have all formally recognized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid. The American people across faiths & communities see it, too. It’s time for Congress to stop burying its head in the sand.” Linked to article in Time 7/19/23 –  The American Public’s Views on Israel Are Undergoing a Profound Shift. Washington Hasn’t Caught Up

Carson (D-IN) 7/19/23: Tweet – “Over a year later, and still no insight or #JusticeForShireen. It is imperative that Congress have oversight on the killing of an American citizen and journalist killed abroad by a foreign government, especially one that receives $3.8B annually from American taxpayers.” Linked to Twitter thread by FCNL reporting: “Today a diverse coalition of 60+ national orgs sent a letter to Congress urging support of @RepAndreCarson’s #JusticeForShireen Act. The bill would require @FBI & @StateDept to publicly report on the circumstances surrounding Shireen Abu Akleh’s death.”

Israeli Amb to the UN Gilad Erdan 7/19/23: Tweet – “Just before President Herzog’s speech to Congress, I had the pleasure of meeting with @RepTenney. I thanked Rep. Tenney for her strong support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and the many ways she helps to promote a strong Israel-U.S. relationship in Congress. We discussed the bill Rep. Tenney introduced that will prevent the U.S. government from cooperating with companies boycotting Israel. This bill is an important way to fight BDS. Thank you Rep. Tenney!”

Scott (R-FL) 7/19/23: Tweets – “We ALL must commit to calling out all forms of antisemitism and hatred. I hope every Floridian will join me in standing firmly with our great ally Israel and Florida’s vibrant Jewish community.” with video

Pocan (D-WI) 7/19/23: Tweets – “The best path for peace for Israel and Palestine is to recognize the expansion of illegal settlements & settler terrorism against Palestinians is wrong as are the open-air prison-like conditions in Gaza AND rockets fired from Gaza into Israel by extremists. A special envoy from the United States should be appointed to help facilitate progress towards peace.

Tenney (R-NY) 7/19/23: Tweet – “Let me be clear: Any tensions between the United States and Israel are solely the fault of President Biden. Netanyahu is not the extremist here — Biden is. Read my full thoughts in the @nypost” [link to her op-ed]

House Committee on Agriculture (GOP) 7/19/23: Tweet – “Did you know? The United States is the top supplier of imported consumer-oriented agricultural products to Israel, totaling more than $384 million in 2020.

Scott (R-FL) 7/18/23: PHOTO RELEASE Sen. Rick Scott at Press Conference with Jewish Leaders in Orlando: We All Must Stand Up Against Antisemitism

Lankford (R-OK) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Our partnership with Israel makes our country stronger. The work the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus continues to do to expand partnerships stabilizes the region.

Stefanik (R-OH) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Let me be very clear: for American companies to be providing services to any entity that actively fundraises for Palestinian terrorist organizations or promotes anti-Semitism is completely unacceptable.” Linked to article in the Washington Examiner, Major payment processor works with left-wing charity tied to Palestinian terrorism

Scott (R-FL) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Honored to stand alongside Jewish leaders in Orlando today to discuss our strong support for Israel & the fight against antisemitism. I hope every Floridian will join me in standing resolutely with Israel & our Jewish Communities as we condemn antisemitism in all forms.”

Ricketts (R-NE) 7/17/23: Tweet – “The State Department should not be cutting off scientific and technological cooperation with institutions in certain Israeli territories to score political points. There should be no room for appeasing radical anti-Semites in our foreign policy…

Tenney (R-NY) 7/16/23: Tweet – “The BDS movement normalizes anti-Semitism, targeting the only Jewish State. Congress can firmly denounce this by passing the Countering Hate Against Israel by Federal Contractors Act, sending a resolute message against anti-Semitism & the BDS movement.

Lawler (R-NY) 7/16/23: Tweet – The Alliance for Global Justice was rightly stripped of its ability to process credit card donations because an unholy alliance with a known terrorist organization. For Stripe to allow them to again process transactions is concerning and unacceptable.” Linked to article in the Washington Examiner, Major payment processor works with left-wing charity tied to Palestinian terrorism

Mast (R-FL) 7/16/23: Tweet – “In 2017, Trump announced that the US would withdraw from UNESCO. Our nation saved on annual dues of $80 million, and sent a strong message to the world: anti-Semitic behavior will not go unpunished. Now Biden wants to reverse that decision.” Linked to Mast’s 7/5/23 blog post – UNESCO Erasing Jewish Connection to the Holy Land

Scott (R-FL) 7/16/23: Tweet – “The U.S. will NEVER put our own security at risk with partnerships that also engage Communist China, Iran or Russia. Working with America must mean adopting behaviors that align with the shared national security interests of the U.S. and our allies. There can be no ambiguity.” Linked to Scott op-ed at Fox News 7/14/23 – What I saw in Israel reveals Abraham Accords in action Also tweeted with link on 7/15/23

Nunn (R-IA) 7/16/23: Tweet – “I met with the Israeli Consul General Yinam Cohen and Kosovo Ambassador Ilir Dugolli this week. Learn more about why these relationships are so important to Iowa linked to Nunn statement

McCarthy (R-CA) 7/15/23: Tweet – “Prime Minister @netanyahu is a fighter. Please join me in praying for him and for Israel.”


7. Members on the Record (Iran & Other Mideast countries)

Risch (R-ID) 7/20/23: Tweet – “The U.S. should continue & expand seizures of illicit Iranian oil and increase deterrence in the region. We must deny resources that will benefit the pariah regime in #Iran.” Linked to article, Iran warns against unloading Iranian oil from seized tanker (Reuters 7/20/23)

Ernst (R-IA) 7/20/23: Tweet – “President Biden’s strategy of appeasement is emboldening our adversaries like Iran while leaving our allies in the dust.   I’m fighting to bolster Israel’s security and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to standing with our allies.” Linked to  Joni Ernst Blasts Biden Admin’s ‘Appeasement’ of Iran, Outlines Plan To Fight Tehran With Arab Allies (Free Beacon 7/18/23)

Tlaib (D-MI) 7/20/23: Tweet – “Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal. I introduced the Justice for Syrians resolution with Rep. @Ilhan to hold Assad accountable for crimes against humanity. It’s time for the Syrian people to have justice.” Linked to 7/13/23 press release, Tlaib Introduces Bill to Hold Assad Accountable for Crimes Against Humanity

Omar (D-MN) 7/19/23: Tweet  – For years, the Syrian people have suffered from a brutal civil conflict that has displaced more than half of the population.  Proud to introduce a bill with @RepRashidaTlaib to hold Dictator Bashar Al-Assad accountable for crimes against humanity.” Linked to 7/13 press release, Omar, Tlaib Introduce Bill to Hold Assad Accountable for Crimes Against Humanity

LaHood (R-IL) 7/19/23: Tweet – I spoke at the @WilsonCenterMEP program on Building Lebanon’s Sovereignty and the State. Lebanon has the potential for success, but only if the gov’t works for the people. As co-chair of the US-Lebanon Friendship Caucus, I will continue to work to strengthen the US-Lebanon relationship.”

Malliotakis (D-NY) 7/19/23: Tweet – “This morning Nicole addressed @TheAHIinDC to commemorate the 49th Anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion of Cyprus. As we grow closer to 50 years of illegal occupation, we renew our calls for the removal of Turkish troops from the island and the full reunification of Cyprus.”

Menendez (D-NJ) 7/18/23: Tweet – 10 months after the murder of #MahsaAmini by the #MoralityPolice, the Iranian regime reinstated its misogynistic hijab patrols to suppress women & intimidate protesters. The int’l community cannot be complacent to their plight and to the remarkable courage of the Iranian people.” Linked to article, Iran’s morality police resume hijab patrols after reprieve during protests (Washington Post 7/17/23)

Tenney (R-NY) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Iran’s morality police have resumed street patrols, forcibly imposing headscarves on women after months of protests following the death of Mahsa Amini. This is a blatant violation of human rights and must not be tolerated.” Linked to article, Iran’s morality police resume street patrols, forcing women to wear headscarves after months-long protest (Fox News 7/16/23)

Ernst (R-IA) 7/18/23: Tweet – “Iran’s aggression is fueled by the Biden admin’s lack of enforcement of the very sanctions they put in place. When Team Biden doesn’t enforce their own sanctions, they are enabling Iran to kill innocent Israelis, Americans, Saudis, Emiratis, and countless others. #CUFISummit2023

McCaul (R-TX) 7/16/23: press release – McCaul Says if Malley Leaked Classified Secrets to Foreign Adversaries, Would be Treason