FMEP Legislative Round-Up: July 28, 2023


1.Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Members of Congress on Israel’s Judicial “Reform”
3. Thou Shalt Not Call Israel “Racist” – continued
4. Hearings, Markups & Events
5. Media & Reports
6. Members on the Record (Israel/Palestine)
7. Members on the Record (Iran & other Mideast countries)

NOTE: For now, I will be continuing to refer to communications on the platform-formerly-known-as-Twitter as “Tweets.”

New from FMEP:

1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

(a) Israel

(SUPPORTING ISRAEL DEMOCRACY) H. Con. Res. 61: Introduced 7/27/23  by Schakowsky (D-IL) and Kuster (D-NH), along with 10 all-Democratic colleagues, “Supporting Israeli democracy.” The resolution states that it is the sense of Congress that “(1) democracy is at the core of the special relationship between the United States and Israel; (2) Congress opposes actions that undermine Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state; and (3) Congress stands with all Israelis seeking to defend liberal democracy, judicial review, and independent political institutions acting in a system of checks and balances.” [Yes, you read that right — the res0lution makes no mention of the existence of Palestinians, or occupation, or apartheid, or racist Israeli policies, etc. Make of that what you will.] Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Also see:

(THOU SHALT NOT CALL ISRAEL RACIST!) H. Con. Res. 57/S. Con. Res. 14: On 7/25/23, the Senate adopted H. Con. Res 57 by unanimous consent. As a reminder, this resolution was introduced in the House 7/17/23 by Pfluger (R-TX) and 25 cosponsors [24 Republicans plus Moskowitz (D-FL)], and as identical text 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.” And as noted last week, it could more aptly be titled, “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 both resolutions 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.”

  • Last week – on 7/18/23, the House passed H. Con. Res. 57 by a roll call vote of 412-9-1 (for full details see last week’s Round-Up). This week, on 7/25/23, the Senate passed H. Con. Res. 57 (which, remember, is identical to Cotton’s S. Con. Res. 14) by Unanimous Consent. Notably, at the time of its passage, S. Con, Res. 14 had attracted a total 0f 31 cosponsors  — 30 Republicans, plus a lone Democrat, Casey (D-PA). See Section 3, below, for grandstanding tweets/statements/press releases related to Senate passage of the resolution.
  • Underscoring the degree to which this resolution’s “Israel is not racist!” sloganeering is totally contradicted by reality, listen to the former head of Israel’s Mossad, Tamir Pardo, speaking this week: “‘horrible, racist parties’ in Netanyahu’s coalition are similar to the notorious American white supremacist Ku Klux Klan. In a scathing interview with Kan public broadcaster radio on Thursday, Pardo slammed Netanyahu for ‘taking the Ku Klux Klan and putting them into government.’ “Worse than this, I don’t want to go into examples from the 1930s,” he said, pointing to Smotrich’s comments that the Palestinian town of Huwara should be ‘wiped out.’ Pardo went on to say that many of the laws that the government is legislating are tantamount to ‘antisemitic laws,’ and would be labelled such were they passed in any other country. ‘Tomorrow morning, they can’t enter a club, or a locality, or can’t buy a house in a certain area, or have less rights, that is antisemitism for its own sake’ he said. On Tuesday, the Knesset expanded the so-called Admissions Committees Law, which enables small communities to reject applicants they deem ‘unsuitable,’ and was described by leading rights organization Adalah as ‘racist.'”

(COUNTRY OF ORIGINAL LABELING) S. 1421: Introduced 5/3/23 by Baldwin (D-WI) and having 5 bipartisan cosponsors, the “COOL Online Act“, aka, “To require origin and location disclosure for new products of  foreign origin offered for sale on the internet.” On 7/27/23, during a markup of S. 1421 in the Senate Commerce Committee, Cruz (R-TX) offered an amendment seeking to exempt Israel from the FTC labeling requirements, in order to enable products of Israeli settlements [which Cruz referred to as being made in “Judea and Samaria”] to be inaccurately/misleadingly be labeled as made in Israel (starting at 42:00 in the video). Cruz argued that such labeling requirements are antisemitic and a form of antisemitic (in effect suggeesting that if people are allowed to know that products come from settlements they might choose not to buy them, and that would be antisemitic boycott), and he went so far as to — yes — invoke the Holocaust (really, just listen to the whole speech). Vance (R-OH) spoke in support of the Cruz amendment. Cantwell (D-WA) opposed the amendment not on substance but on the grounds that this matter is outside the jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee and should have been brought up in the SFRC (Cruz disagreed). The amendment failed by a party-line roll call vote.

Also see:

(JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF ISRAEL-TARGETED ATTACKS IN ARGENTINA) S. Res. 307 (text): Introduced 7/25/23 by Rubio (R-FL) and Menendez (D-NJ), “A resolution remembering the 31st anniversary of the bombing of the Embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992, and the 29th anniversary of the bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, and recommitting to efforts to uphold justice for the victims of the attacks.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Also see:

(b) Iran

(US-ISRAEL DRONE COOPERATION) HR XXX: On 7/28/23 Jewish Insider reported: “A bipartisan group of more than 40 lawmakers is expected to introduce legislation today that aims to combat the Iranian drone threat through increased cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. The U.S.-Israel Anti-Killer Drone Act, the text of which was obtained by Jewish Insider, proposes increasing funding caps for existing U.S.-Israel counter-drone programs from $40 million to $55 million annually. It would also direct the defense secretary to report to Congress on the status of U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation and any additional funding or authorities that could assist such efforts, as well as the threat Iranian drones pose to the U.S. and Israel. The bill is being sponsored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY).” NOTE: Gottheier and Garabino introduced this same legislation on 10/31/22, in the form of HR 9256 – that bill attracted no other cosponsors and died in committee.

(CONDEMNING IRAN GOVT/JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS) H. Res. 627: Introduced 7/27/23 by Gooden (R-TX) and 38 bipartisan cosponsors,  “Condemning the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the massacre of political prisoners in 1988 and the uprisings of recent years, including the 2018, 2019, and 2022 uprisings, and calling for justice for its victims.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 2626: Introduced 7/27/23 by Rubio (R-FL) and Padilla (D-CA),  “A bill to impose sanctions with respect to the Supreme Leader of Iran and the President of Iran and their respective offices for human rights abuses and support for terrorism,” aka the “Mahsa Amini Human Rights and Security Accountability (MAHSA) Act. “Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Also see:

  • Rubio press release – Rubio, Padilla Introduce Bill to Impose Economic Sanctions on Iranian Regime
  • Rubio (R-FL) 7/28/23: Tweet – “Was joined by @SenAlexPadilla in introducing the Mahsa Amini Human Rights and Security Accountability (MAHSA) Act. This bill would require an annual assessment from POTUS on whether or not sanctions should be imposed against top officials of the oppressive regime in Tehran.”
  • AIPAC Twitter thread 7/28/23: “Iran’s brutal theocratic regime engages in systemic human rights abuses against its own people. Thank you @SenMarcoRubio and @SenAlexPadilla for leading this bipartisan effort to increase pressure on the oppressive regime for its egregious human rights violations. .@SenMarcoRubio: ‘The U.S. must evaluate and re-amp economic pressure against Senior Iranian regime officials who are actively partaking in the crackdown of Iranian protestors and civilians.’ .@SenAlexPadilla: ‘We must do our part to hold Iranian leaders accountable for their violent crackdown of these protests and the regime’s ongoing repression, censorship, and abuse against its people.'”

(IRAN PROTESTS) S. Con. Res. 2: Introduced 1/26/23 by Menendez (D-NJ) and 32 bipartisan cosponsors (and now having 50 cosponsors), “A concurrent resolution commending the bravery, courage, and resolve of the women and men of Iran demonstrating in more than 133 cities and risking their safety to speak out against the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses.” Reported out of the SFRC on 7/25/23 without amendment and an amendment to the title and with an amended preamble, and with no written report.

(c) Tunisia

(TUNISIAN DEMOCRACY) H. Res. 613Introduced 7/25/23 by Phillips (D-MN) and Wilson (R-SC), “Recognizing Tunisia’s leadership in the Arab Spring and expressing support for upholding its democratic principles and norms.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Also see:

  • Phillips (D-MN) 7/25/23: Tweet – “It’s been 2 years since President Saied’s power grab and Tunisian democracy, human rights, and freedoms have only regressed. That’s why today @RepJoeWilson and I introduced a resolution condemning Saied’s actions & expressing support for upholding Tunisia’s democratic principles.”

(DEFENDING TUNISIAN DEMOCRACY) S. 2006: Introduced 6/15/23 (not previously reported in the Round-Up) by Risch (R-ID) and Menendez (D-NJ), “A bill to foster Tunisia’s democratic institutions, to limit funds until Tunisia restores checks and balances, and to authorize the creation of a fund to support democratic reforms.”  Reported out of the SFRC on 7/25/23 with an amendment in the nature of a substitute and no written report.

(d) Syria & Lebanon

(LIMITING SYRIA SANCTIONS EXCEPTIONS) HR 4847: Introduced 7/25/23 by Baird (R-IN), McCaul (R-TX) and Wilson (R-SC),  “To provide for limitations on general license authorities under the Syria Sanctions Regulations.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as the Committees on the Judiciary, Financial Services, Oversight and Accountability, and Ways and Means,

Also see:

(LEBANON SECURITY THREATS) HR 4929: Introduced 7/26/23 by Meng (D-NY) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, “To require the Secretary of State to submit a report on security threats in Lebanon, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(e) NDAA & Approps Bills

(FY24 SFOPS NDAA) HR 4665/S. 2438 & & HR 2670/S. 2226 & misc other approps legislation: As noted in last week’s Round-Up, I’m not going to be tracking the FY24 SFOPS & NDAA (and other approps bills) through the legislative process this year — a process that more than likely will lead to stalemate/shutdowns/continuing resolutions (making the battle around these bills largely symbolic). When this clown show concludes I may publish analysis looking back at key Israel/Palestine/Middle East issues raised during the process, but for now, for folks who do want to follow this clown show, see:

  • SFOPS — Senate’s foreign budget bill sets up clash with the House (Jewish Insider 7/25/23)
  • NDAA news — Two Israel-related amendments of note were offered in the Senate (neither of which got a vote). First, Sanders (D-VT) offered an amendment (S. Amdt. 1031) to condition all FMF to Israel on the Secretary of State certifying that the Israeli government “is taking sustained and effective steps to halt all tenders for settlement construction and cease construction and expansion of Israeli-controlled settlements outside Israel’s international-recognized borders.” Also see AIPAC tweet. Second, Sanders – along with Van Hollen (D-MD), Markey (D-MA), Welch (D-VT), and Warren (D-MA) offered an amendment – S. Amdt. 1032 – to authorize an additional $200 million of UNRWA “to make up the funding shortfall for such organization and to ensure the continuity of basic services to Palestinian refugees”  and an additional $50 million in ESF “for assistance to the West Bank and Gaza.”
  • Defense Approps: AIPAC 7/27/23 tweet – “Today, @SenateApprops @AppropsGOP passed important pro-Israel provisions in their FY24 Defense Appropriations bill, including:  $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation  $47.5 million for joint anti-tunnel cooperation  $40 million for joint counter-drone cooperation These critical funding measures will help keep our ally Israel safe and advance American interests. Thank you @PattyMurray @SenatorCollins @SenatorTester for your leadership!”

(f) AIPAC Sums It All Up

AIPAC Twitter thread 7/28/23, going into summer recess: “Congress Demonstrates Overwhelming Support for Israel Major Progress on Bipartisan Pro-Israel Legislation AIPAC appreciates the pro-Israel leadership demonstrated by Democrats and Republicans in Congress working to strengthen and expand the U.S.-Israel relationship. 1/13 Before adjourning for summer recess, Congress came together to send unequivocal and bipartisan messages of support for Israel and pro-Israel policies. 2/13 Both the House and Senate have advanced critical pieces of pro-Israel legislation that will bring the two allies closer together, and ensure the Jewish state has the resources it needs to defend itself against growing threats. 3/13 The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have both passed bills that include full funding of vital security assistance to Israel, $3.3 billion, rejecting those calling to jeopardize and politicize Israel’s security by adding new conditions on the aid. 4/13 . @SenateApprops @AppropsGOP @HouseAppropsGOP @AppropsDems also passed:  $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation  $47.5 million for U.S.-Israel anti-tunneling cooperation  $40 million for U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation 5/13 Both versions of the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House and Senate authorized:  Full funding for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation ($500 million)  U.S.-Israel counter-tunnel cooperation through 2026 ($47.5 million) 6/13 As Iran continues to threaten both America and Israel, the inclusion of the Expediting Israeli Aerial Refueling Act of 2023 in both bills will strengthen support for Israel’s capabilities and deterrence toward the regime. 7/13 .@HouseForeignGOP @HouseForeign also adopted two important bills addressing security threats from the Iranian regime:  The Fight and Combat Rampant Iranian Missile Exports Act, or “Fight CRIME” Act (H.R.3152)  The Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act of 2023 (H.R.4691) 8/13 The Fight CRIME Act requires the administration to provide Congress with a diplomatic strategy to secure the renewal of the expiring restrictions on the Iranian missile and drone program. 9/13  The Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act enhances congressional oversight on the implementation of Iranian sanctions laws. 10/13  These pro-Israel initiatives come on the heels of both the House & Senate overwhelmingly adopting resolutions reaffirming the enduring partnership between America and Israel and directly refuting those pushing the dangerous slander of Israel as a racist or apartheid state. 11/13  When Congress returns in September, we urge adoption of these critical pro-Israel measures. 12/13 As Israeli President @Isaac_Herzog eloquently stated in his recent address to Congress which received bipartisan acclaim, “When the United States is strong, Israel is stronger. And when Israel is strong, the United States is more secure.” END”


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


2. Members of Congress on Israel’s Judicial “Reform”

This week, Israel passed “judicial reform” or “judicial overhaul” legislation — a law designed to diminish the powers of Israel’s Supreme Court and expand the powers of lawmakers — that has been the focus of mass protests in Israel for weeks, and that the Biden Administration had explicitly urged the Israeli government to back off on/delay. Responses from members of Congress to the passage of the legislation broke down on partisan lines, with some Republicans defending the move and attacking Democrats for daring to raise concerns, and a small number of Democrats expressing concern and disappointment (but emphatically NOT calling for any consequences – bringing to mind a lyric from Tom Lehrer’s timless classic, The Folk Song Army – “If you feel dissatisfaction // Strum your frustrations away // Some people may prefer action // But give me a folk song any old day”).

Concerned, Disappointed, etc (just don’t suggest consequences)

Schakowsky (D-IL) et al 7/27/23: Introduced H. Con. Res. 61, Supporting Israeli democracy.”

Trone (D-MD) 7/26/23: Tweet – “Earlier this week, the Knesset passed the first bill of PM Netanyahu’s contentious judicial overhaul. I’m concerned by this decision and do not believe that it reflects the key values Israel was founded on. Democracy takes work, and it takes all of us to uphold and defend it.

Slotkin (D-MI) 7/26/23: Twitter thread – “Last night I sat down with Israeli Ambassador @AmbHerzog for a frank discussion on developments in Israel, including my concerns around the government’s overhaul of the judiciary & the uptick in violence this year in Israel & the West Bank. As someone who is committed to Israeli security, I hope for serious & non-violent compromise on these issues. I also expressed my hope that the signing of a new agreement with the U.S. last week will make it easier for all Americans to visit Israel & the Palestinian territories. My own constituents have had access problems in the past, and so I am hopeful that this new arrangement will be successful.

Welch (D-VT) 7/25/23: Tweet – “The parliament’s decision to pass judicial overhaul legislation curbs the Supreme Court’s independence and threatens the checks and balances crucial to a healthy democracy in Israel.” Linked to article, Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul victory spells a tragic, disastrous defeat for Israel (David Horovitz/Times of Israel 7/24/23)

Jewish Insider 7/25/23: Manning expresses ‘concerns’ about judicial reform, Israeli government action in West Bank

Eshoo (D-CA) 7/25/23: Twitter thread – “As a longtime friend of Israel, it pains me to witness the passage of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul legislation which imperils the rights of Israelis and Palestinians alike and undermines the democratic values at the core of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Bravo to the hundreds of thousands of Israeli protesters who refuse to accept the erosion of their democracy in a peaceful way.

Kildee (D-MI) 7/25/23: Tweet – “As a supporter of Israel, I am concerned by any law which undermines Israel’s system of democratic checks and balances. I urge Israel’s government to listen to its citizens, military leaders and judges and not rush this undemocratic judicial overhaul.

Escobar (D-TX) 7/25/23: Tweet – “I’m deeply disappointed by the Netanyahu government’s undermining of the Israeli Supreme Court’s authority. This vote is an overreach by the ruling coalition and a threat to Israel’s commitment to democracy.” Linked to Reuters tweet with video of Israeli protestors

Merkley (D-OR) 7/24/23: Tweet – “Checks and balances—including a strong, independent judiciary—are crucial to any thriving democracy. This anti-democratic attack on Israel’s Supreme Court threatens the rule of law and could be the nail in the coffin for a two-state solution and enduring peace.

Goldman (D-NY) 7/24/23: Tweet – “As a pro-Israel Jew, I am deeply disappointed to see the passage of the first step of the anti-democratic judicial overhaul plan. Israel’s government should heed the voice of its citizens, aim to find consensus, and reaffirm a commitment to the checks and balances of democracy.”

Raskin (D-MD) 7/24/23: Twitter thread – “This premeditated right-wing hit on judicial review in Israel is a profound disappointment in the wake of President Herzog’s fine speech in Congress last week—and a setback to liberal democracy on earth. 1/ I will always stand strong with the hundreds of thousands of Israelis marching for a strong democratic Israel which upholds the spirit of freedom, human rights and equal justice under reasoned law. 2//”

Nadler (D-NY) 7/24/23: Statement posted on Twitter – “Last week, I had the honor of listening to President of Israel Isaac Herzog extol the importance of an independent judiciary to the U.S. Congress. Today, the prime minister and his extremist coalition disregarded the president’s – and the Israeli people’s – call for consensus and, taking a major step forward in their judicial overhaul plans, passed legislation that desecrates judicial independence. It is a dark day for Israeli democracy. Despite these challenges, as the peaceful demonstrators across Israel and the United States have made clear, the hope among Israelis and the Diaspora community that inspired Israel’s founding and its prosperity nonetheless persists. Today’s deeply disappointing vote in the Knesset need not mark an ending, but rather an opportunity to renew that hope and continue fighting for a democratic Israel.”

Schneider (D-IL) 7/24/23: Twitter thread – “I am deeply saddened and profoundly concerned by the decision of the coalition government in Israel to unilaterally move forward with dramatic and controversial changes to its judicial system. The deep divide in Israeli society is only exacerbated by this move that unnecessarily puts Israel’s democracy and international standing in a precarious position.  While the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad, the actions of the current government will undoubtedly strain Israel’s critical relationships with the diaspora Jewish community and the nations in which they all live. I stand resolutely with the Jewish, democratic state of Israel, and with the majority of Israelis, and their allies around the world, committed to advancing the fundamental Zionist ideal articulated 75 years ago in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Levin (D-CA) 7/24/23: Tweet – “As a strong defender of Israel’s democracy, I am concerned by today’s passage of the judicial reform bill by Israel’s Knesset. It is important that the independence of Israel’s courts is preserved to protect the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.” Linked to NPR article, Israeli lawmakers pass a key law to weaken the judiciary despite public outrage

Cardin (D-MD) 7/24/23: Twitter thread – “Legitimate checks-and-balances are essential in all democracies. The Knesset vote today for a law stripping the Israeli Supreme Court of its power to block government decisions is contrary to democratic values. I implore Netanyahu to support the core values that have enabled Israel to flourish and grow.”

Dean (D-PA) 7/24/23: Tweet – “This is as true today as it was four months ago. Israel must maintain its democracy — which means preserving an independent judiciary. Today’s vote in the Knesset is a step away from democratic values.”

Murphy (D-CT) 7/24/23: Murphy Statement on Israeli Knesset’s Passage of Judicial Overhaul Legislation – “In the face of historic and unprecedented protests, I am deeply disappointed that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government was unwilling to broker a compromise and instead moved forward unilaterally with its plans to kneecap the Supreme Court. It is clear that the people of Israel remain deeply divided on this latest step to undercut the ability of the judiciary to review government decisions, and many believe it puts the future of their economy, national security, and democracy at risk. While this is an internal matter for Israel to resolve, our bilateral relationship has always been grounded in shared democratic values and I remain concerned by the path Prime Minister Netanyahu is leading his country down.”

Not a big deal (and why won’t Biden/ Dems/activists leave Israel alone!)

Jordan (R-OH) 7/25/23: Tweet – “God Bless Prime Minister Netanyahu! Luckily, no one reads the Washington Post.” Linked to article,WaPo Declares ‘Trump-Like’ PM Benjamin Netanyahu Israel’s ‘Biggest’ Threat (Breitbart 7/24/23)

Hagerty (R-TN) 7/25/23: Tweet – “#Biden’s interference in Israel’s internal politics is shameful, inappropriate & hypocritical. It’s another example of the Biden Admin’s obsession with undermining our most important ally in the Middle East.” Linked to article, White House blasts Israel for passing sweeping judicial changes with ‘the slimmest possible majority’ (Yahoo News)

Cornyn (R-TX) 7/25/23: Tweet – “Israel’s judicial debate is far down the list of urgent problems in the Middle East. “ Linked to Wall Street Journal editorial – Israel’s Supreme Court Panic Attack – Compromise is the way out of the mess, and Joe Biden’s help isn’t needed.

Blackburn (R-TN) 7/25/23: Tweet – “It’s ironic that while Democrats are bashing Israel’s judicial reform, many in the Democratic Party support packing the U.S. Supreme Court. Consistency isn’t their strong suit.

Jewish News Syndicate 7/24/23: Democrats’ criticism of judicial reform vote met with pushback in Washington [citing Cotton, (R-AR), someone from the Heritage Foundation, Danielle Pletka (AEI), and Jonathan Schanzer (FDD)]

Blackburn (R-TN) 7/24/23: Tweet – “Biden urged Netanyahu not to ‘rush’ Israel’s judicial reforms. This is coming from the same man who created a commission to look into packing the United States Supreme Court.”

Cotton (R-AR) 7/24/23: Tweet – “Joe Biden’s meddling in Israel’s internal politics is unprecedented and inappropriate. He has no business telling one of our most important allies how to govern their own country.” Linked to article in the Algemeiner, ‘Unprecedented and Inappropriate’: Sen. Tom Cotton Slams Biden Statement on Israeli Judicial Reform

Green (R-TN) 7/24/23: Tweet – “The United States will always stand with our indispensable ally, Israel. We will never take the friendship of our two nations for granted.” Linked to tweet quoting Herzog’s speech to Congress

Cotton (R-AR) 7/24/23: Tweet – “The last thing Israel needs right now is for Joe Biden to inject his own personal politics into its national debate. Unprecedented as it is embarrassing.”
Cotton (R-AR) 7/24/23: Tweet – “It’s unprecedented for an American president to meddle in Israel’s internal affairs—especially one who won’t even criticize our actual enemies. Joe Biden is showing his true colors.

3. Thou Shalt Not Call Israel “Racist” – Continued

Last week’s kerfuffle over whether or not Israel can be called “racist” continued into this week – because of course it did…

Senate passes “ISRAEL IS ABSOLUTELY NOT RACIST” Resolution

As noted in Section 1 (above), this week the Senate passed the “thou-shalt-not-call-Israel-racist” resolution passed by the House last week. Notably, this Senate version passed with far less grandstanding and partisan fanfare (far far fewer statements/tweets/press releases – whew!). Also note that Senate engagement on this resolution was almost entirely partisan:  just one Democrat — Casey (D-PA) cosponsored the Cotton (R-AR) version of the resolution, and the House version that the Senate passed (identical to the Senate version) was adopted by Unanimous Consent (meaning no roll call vote, which also meant less opportunity and/or need for statements).

Must-read Analysis/commentary

Continued Grandstanding, incl around Senate passage of “ISRAEL IS *NOT* RACIST” Res

Torres (D-NY) 7/26/23: Tweet – “The notion that Israel is “the only state in the world that rejects the idea that the state should be a state of all its citizens” is a lie. Leave aside the fact that the citizens of Israel, both Arab and Jewish, enjoy fundamentally more rights than the citizens of just about every country in the Middle East. I am pretty sure that the CCP rejects the idea that China should be a state of all its citizens. The CCP, after all, has waged a genocidal campaign to eradicate the very identity, fertility, and history of Uyghurs in order to forcibly assimilate minorities like them into a homogeneously Han Chinese society. There is an ongoing effort to not only malign Israel at every turn but also to portray it as the worst state on earth and the root of all evil. There are BDS activists who blame Israel for social evils that have nothing to do with Israel, like police brutality in the United States. The demonization of Israel often reaches the realm of the absurd.” This was in response to a tweet by the Arab Center’s Yousef Munayyer, “This is the only state in the world that rejects the idea that the state should be a state of all its citizens.” That tweet linked to a Reuters article, Arabs in Israel stay on sidelines of raging democracy battle, and was citing a direct quote from that article, from Palestinian-Israel lawyer Hassan Jabareen, the founder of the Haifa-based Adalah rights group. Apparently Torres believes that (a) defending Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by suggesting a comparison to China’s treatment of the Uyghurs is anything other than a huge self-own (if a CRITIC of Israel invoked this comparison they would be attacked, for sure, as anti-Israel and antisemitic); and (b) he is better positioned to judge what is legitimate analysis/critique of Israel than a renowned Israeli lawyer who has for years argued cases before Israel’s Supreme Court – then again that lawyer is also Palestinian, which for Torres may be enough to merit automatic disqualification/dismissal/disparagement of anything he says.

Washington Examiner 7/26/23: Schumer quietly rebukes Jayapal over Israel ‘racist state’ comments

Crapo (R-ID) 7/26/23: Crapo Applauds Passage of Resolution Affirming American Support for Israel

Kennedy (R-LA) 7/26/23: Tweet – “The rise in antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments from members of Congress is disgraceful. Israel is a friend to America.” Linked to Kennedy press release – Senate passes Kennedy-backed bipartisan resolution reaffirming U.S. support for Israel

Cotton (R-AR) 7/26/23: Tweet – My statement on the Senate passing my resolution supporting Israel: ‘I’m pleased that a bipartisan group of my colleagues supported this resolution upholding that Israel is not a racist state, that Congress reject any form of antisemitism, and that America will always be a staunch supporter of Israel. It is unfortunate that Democrat attacks on Israel necessitated Congress passing this legislation'” Also see Cotton press release – Senate Passes Cotton Bipartisan Resolution Affirming American Support for Israel

AIPAC 7/26/23: Tweet – “Thank you @RepPfluger and @SenTomCotton for leading bipartisan resolutions in the House and Senate overwhelmingly supporting our democratic ally Israel. America stands with Israel.

AIPAC 7/26/23: Twitter thread – “AIPAC applauds the Senate for overwhelmingly expressing bipartisan solidarity with our democratic ally Israel and forcefully rejecting anti-Israel and antisemitic attacks. The House and Senate have both made it clear that America stands with Israel. (1/2) This is an important statement that demonstrates that both Democrats and Republicans stand solidly with Israel and against those who would slander and demonize the Jewish state. (2/2)”

Budd (R-NC) 7/26/23: Tweet – “Proud to join @SenTomCotton and my colleagues in supporting Israel and rejecting all forms of antisemitism.”

Britt (R-AL) 7/26/23: Tweet – I was proud to co-sponsor and support @SenTomCotton‘s resolution reaffirming Congress’ support for Israel and stating our complete rejection of the unfair attacks against our close friend and ally.

Pfluger (R-TX) 7/26/23: Tweet – “Both chambers of Congress affirm support for Israel!”

Cramer (R-ND) 7/25/23: Tweet – “The world needs to know the U.S. stands with Israel as our friend & ally. This is why I co-sponsored @SenTomCotton’s resolution which passed the Senate today, reaffirming America’s support for Israel.

Jerusalem Post 7/25/23: Why do some US Congress members have unwavering hostility to Israel? – opinion

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 7/25/23: Extension of remarks dated 7/18/23 but published in the Record 7/26/23 – “…I rise today in support of this resolution expressing the sense of Congress Supporting the State of Israel. As the only vibrant, progressive, and inclusive democracy in the Middle East, Israel is a beacon of hope–a country where pluralism flourishes. Efforts to delegitimize the Jewish State and claims that the country has abandoned the democratic principles on which it was founded are unfair and false. In Israel, Arab parties serve in the Knesset, women serve at the highest levels of the military, and the country remains an oasis for LGBTQ+ people in a region hostile toward the community. The U.S.-Israel alliance is strong for a reason. Our nations were founded on these shared values, and those ideals keep our partnership ironclad to this day Israeli security is critical to America’s national security. Our bilateral defense and intelligence cooperation makes our two countries safer and plays a key role in the global fight against terror, I am proud to champion this relationship in Congress. We have no better partner in the region than the State of Israel and I will remain committed to ensuring that Israel has the resources it needs to defend itself. I have traveled to Israel twice this year alone, alongside Democrats and Republicans, and have many times visited the country to meet with senior level officials and civil society leaders. Each time I am reminded of the resolve and passion of the Israeli people. I am also reminded of the importance of the Jewish State. The United States was the first country to recognize Israel‘s independence 75 years ago, just eleven minutes after its founding. It has since become the “Start Up Nation”, a leader in high-tech, sustainability, and innovation. The United States has stood with Israel every step of the way. Over the last 75 years, bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship has proven vital to protecting our national security, fighting terror, and intelligence collaboration. I look forward to celebrating Israel‘s next 75 years, and furthering the vital U.S.-Israel relationship.”

All Israel News 7/24/23: Boycott of Herzog’s speech to US Congress projected ‘antisemitic message,’ says Joel Rosenberg [“ALL ISRAEL NEWS founder and editor-in-chief discusses growing antisemitism among Democrats during Newsmax interview ‘Saturday Report with Rita Cosby'”]

Emmer (House Majority Whip) (R-MN) 7/24/23: Tweet – “By boycotting Israeli President Herzog’s address and refusing to agree that Israel is NOT a racist state, House Democrats showed us their true colors last week. The contrast between our two parties couldn’t be more clear.” Linked to article, Republicans hammer Democrats on Israel after President Herzog’s address to Congress (Washington Examiner 7/19/23)

McCaul (R-TX) 7/23/23: Tweet – “To call Israel a ‘racist state’ is against America’s values. I took to the House floor to make it known that antisemitism has no place here in Congress — or anywhere in our nation.”

Stop Antisemitism 7/23/23: Tweet – “Great news out of DC as a resolution to censure Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has been introduced; it cites: – Jayapal has promoted antisemitic through her congressional career – in May 2021, Jayapal blamed Israel for Hamas firing over 4500 terror rockets into Israel – in May 2021, Jayapal co-sponsored legislation which would have provided congressional disapproval arms sales to Israel as Israeli citizens were enduring a barrage of rockets from Palestinian terrorists – last weekend Jayapal stated Israel is a racist state Thank you Reps. Ogles, Weber, and Duncan – antisemitism must NEVER be allowed to ferment within the walls of Congress.”

Weber (R-TX) 7/24/23 – Tweet – “Antisemitism has no place in Congress, has no place in America, and it has no place in the world. I’m proud to join @RepOgles.” Linked to Ogles (R-TN) 7/21/23: Tweet – “I hope all of my House colleagues join me in condemning the antisemitism perpetuated by @RepJayapal.” Linked to article, Rep. Andy Ogles Moves To Censure Dem Rep Over ‘Antisemitic’ Remarks (Daily Caller)


4. Hearings, Markups, & Events

July 28, 2023: On 7/28/23, the State Department provided a closed/classified briefing to HFAC Chairman McCaul (R-TX) [and likely other HFAC members] on the ongoing investigation regarding Iran envoy Rob Malley.

Also see:

  • Jewish Insider 7/28/23 [“House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), emerging from a classified briefing on Friday morning, told Jewish Insider that administration officials had not been able to offer committee members details on the status of Iran envoy Rob Malley, who has been suspended for allegedly mishandling classified information…’We don’t really have any details’ on the Malley investigation ‘because it’s an ongoing investigation,’ McCaul said. He said that the administration will likely not be able to provide a full briefing until the investigation concludes…McCaul appeared to drop his threat to subpoena testimony on Malley’s status in the short term. ‘Just because of the ongoing investigation, I assume they would not comply with a subpoena, and it’d be hard to enforce that just given the Privacy Act and other considerations,’ McCaul said…”]
  • Politico 7/25/23 [” The State Department will brief the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s leadership in the wake of the Biden administration’s decision to bench Iran envoy Rob Malley after the panel’s top lawmaker threatened to subpoena administration officials. Rep. Michael McCaul, the committee chair, secured an agreement from the State Department for the sit-down some time this week, according to a Republican committee aide granted anonymity to discuss the sensitive situation. The classified briefing is also open to the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York.
  • Jewish News Syndicate 7/27/23: US State Department to brief lawmakers on suspension of Iran envoy Malley

July 26, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a mark-up of various measures, including: HR 3152, “To impose sanctions with respect to countries, individuals, and entities that engage in any effort to acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer, or deploy Iranian missiles and related goods and technology, including materials and equipment, and for other purposes“; and HR 4691, “To provide for congressional review of actions to terminate or waive sanctions imposed with respect to Iran.” Watch the mark-up here. Also see: Democrats divided on legislation allowing Congress to overrule White House on lifting Iran sanctions (Jewish Insider 7/28/23)


5.  Media & Reports

New York Times (Tom Friedman) 7/27/23: Biden Is Weighing a Big Middle East Deal [“…’It will be hard enough for President Biden to sell any deal like this to the U.S. Congress,’ Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which funds the State Department, said to me. ‘But I can assure you that there will be a strong core of Democratic opposition to any proposal that does not include meaningful, clearly defined and enforceable provisions to preserve the option of a two-state solution and to meet President Biden’s own demand that Palestinians and Israelis enjoy equal measures of freedom and dignity. These elements are essential to any sustainable peace in the Middle East.’”]

Haaretz 7/27/23: With pro-China Wink, Netanyahu Gave America the Finger. Thanks to AIPAC, He Will Face No Consequences

Jewish Insider 7/26/23: U.S. partisanship is killing opportunities for progress on Iran policy, former U.S. diplomat says [“‘One congressional staffer said it to me so well: Iran policy is all about virtue signaling. Iran policy is domestic policy, it’s not foreign policy,’ Goli Ameri told Jewish Insider“]

Jewish Insider 7/26/23: Progressive activist emerges as frontrunner in open Rhode Island House race [“…’While he is progressive on a lot of issues, his position on Israel was pretty much aligned with where we are,’ said Hollis Wein, JACPAC’s director of communications and research. ‘We are hoping that he will be a bridge, once he gets to Congress, with some of the more progressive members, on Israel.’ One of those members might be CPC chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)…Regunberg disagreed with Jayapal’s assessment: ‘No, I do not think that Israel is a racist state,’ he told JI…’Based on my family’s experience, my grandfather’s experience in the Holocaust, I feel strongly about the importance of a Jewish and democratic state and homeland. And I think Israel has long been an essential partner for the U.S.’…”]

Jewish Currents (Matt Duss) 7/25/23: Herzog’s Lullaby [“…while it may be the view of most Democrats in Congress that the occupation should not be mentioned, it is clearly not the view of most Democrats…The Biden administration’s policy, supported by most Congressional Democrats, is completely out of touch with this shift in the electorate, and instead prefers to view Israel through the haze of nostalgia. But not everyone in Congress is playing ball. “]


6. Members on the Record (Israel/Palestine)

Green (R-TN) 7/28/23: Tweet – “I enjoyed meeting with Israel’s Ambassador Michael Herzog. The United States will always stand with our steadfast ally, Israel!

Van Hollen (D-MD) 7/28/23: Tweet – “Devil is in the details, but let’s be clear: a sustainable & just peace can only be secured by effectively safeguarding the option of a viable 2 state solution — & achieving equal measures of freedom, security & dignity for Israelis & Palestinians.” Linked to New York Times (Tom Friedman) 7/27/23: Biden Is Weighing a Big Middle East Deal

Menendez (D-NJ) 7/27/23: Tweet – “Immensely proud to introduce this legislation with @SenateForeign and the #AbrahamAccords Caucus co-chairs. It builds on bipartisan efforts to expand the circle of peace, in the MENA and beyond, firmly anchored in normalized relations with Israel.” [with image of paragraph from Menendez statement on the bill issued 7/20/23, back when the bill was introduced]

Cruz (R-TX) 7/27/23: op-ed in Tablet – Dead Wrong – Biden’s White House is stabbing Israel in the back. Ending military aid will be the final twist of the knife.

Estes (R-KS) 7/28/23: Tweet (DELETED) – “As key partners, Israel and the U.S. work to advance agriculture through the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Fund, offering scientists opportunities to pursue agricultural research relevant to many Kansans. Learn more:

Estes (R-KS) 7/28/23: Tweet (replacing deleted tweet) – “As key partners, Israel and the U.S. work together to advance agriculture through the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) @BDevelopm, offering scientists opportunities to pursue agricultural research relevant to many Kansans.

Torres (D-NY) 7/27/23: op-ed in Tablet – Ending Aid Won’t Stop the Demonization of Israel – Tampering with something that works would put Israelis in danger

Sykes (D-OH) 7/25/23: Tweet – “I was honored to join my friend @RepDWStweets last week for a conversation with my guest for the Joint Meeting of Congress with Israeli President @Isaac_Herzog, Mr. Joe Kanfer. As your Congresswoman, connecting our #OH13 community to Congress is a top priority.

Davis (D-CA) 7/24/23: Twitter thread – “A strong U.S.-Israel relationship is imperative to democracy, and that’s why it’s crucial to cosponsor the following bipartisan bills: H.R.1777, a bill that would enhance our mutual security, strengthen our strategic partnership and ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. H.R.4076, a bill focusing on developing health technologies, such as artificial intelligence, drugs and vaccines, and telemedicine. H.R.3792, a bill that would encourage the expansion and strengthening of the Abraham Accords, affirming Israel’s right to self-defense. H.R. 4709, a bill that would facilitate cooperation between the U.S. and Israel to counter unmanned ariel systems.”

Cline (R-VA) 7/24/23: Tweet – “.@CUFI educates and empowers Americans to speak out in support of Israel, and I was pleased to meet with a representative from Harrisonburg last week to learn more about its mission.”

WESA 7/21/23: Summer Lee skips congressional speech by Israel’s president, but says there is no message behind it


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

Steube (R-FL) 7/27/23: Tweet – “A nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran is unacceptable and Iran must be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons. I am cosponsoring @RepMcCaul‘s resolution reaffirming the commitment of the United States to prevent a nuclear Iran.