FMEP Legislative Round-Up: March 1, 2024


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

New episodes of FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts podcast:


1. Bills & Resolutions

Support for ever-greater Palestinian suffering by barring all US aid

Attacking ICJ for daring to criticize Israel

  • H. Res. 1041: Introduced 2/29/24 by Jackson (R-TX) and 19 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Condemning the order issued by the International Court of Justice on January 26, 2024, imposing provisional measures against Israel. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Using claims of antisemitism (via IHRA definition) to destroy free speech & academia

  • HR 7478Introduced 2/29/24 by Yakym (R-IN) and no cosponsors, “To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require institutions of higher education, as a condition of participation in programs under title IV of such Act, to include a prohibition of antisemitic conduct in all documents relating to student or employee conduct,” aka, the “Promote Restoring Order To End Campus Targeting of Jewish Students and Faculty Act,” or “the PROTECT Jewish Students and Faculty Act”.   Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Also see: Yakym Introduces Bill Requiring Colleges to Adopt Definition of Antisemitism to Receive Federal Funds (Townhall 2/29/24) – excerpt: “Under the bill, the Higher Education Act of 1965 would be amended so that U.S. colleges and universities would be required to adopt the official working definition of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as a condition of receiving Title IV federal funds for financial aid…Yakym told Townhall in a statement. ‘If these institutes of higher education want to continue receiving federal funds, they need to have clearly defined ways to root out antisemitism when it occurs. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to help ensure that Jewish students and faculty are safe on campus and that our colleges and universities are fighting – not fueling – antisemitism.'”

We really really want to give billions of military aid & equipment to Israel to use against Palestinians in Gaza!

  • HR 7493: Introduced 2/29/24 by Gottheimer (D-NJ) and 3 cosponsors (all Democrats, “Making emergency supplemental appropriations to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to provide assistance to Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific region, and for other purposes. Referred to the Committees on Appropriations and on the Budget. NOTE: like the many other emergency supplemental appropriations bills introduced in recent months, this bill includes BILLIONS in aid for Israel. The Round-Up will run down details of this bill only if at some point this bill looks remotely viable (which is highly unlikely).

The Bible Says ALL the land belongs to Israel – so the US should too!

  • HR XXXX (text): On 2/29/24 Tenney (R-NY) issued a press release announcing she had introduced the “RECOGNIZING Judea and Samaria Act,” cosponsored by Randy Weber (R-TX) and D’Esposito (R-NY). NOTE: As of 3/1/24, this bill does not show up in the Congressional Record. Per the press release, Tenney stated: “The Israeli people have an undeniable and indisputable historical and legal claim over Judea and Samaria, and at this critical moment in history, the United States must reaffirm this…The misguided decision by the Biden administration to revoke the Pompeo Doctrine undermines our greatest ally in the Middle East. The RECOGNIZING Judea and Samaria Act requires all U.S. legal documents to use the rightful term ‘Judea and Samaria’ to refer to this territory instead of the ‘West Bank.’ This bill reaffirms Israel’s rightful claim to its territory. I remain committed to defending the integrity of the Jewish state and fully supporting Israel’s sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.” [Stay tuned for legislation requiring the US documents to refer to other areas of the Middle East by their biblical names…]


2. Letters


Dear Biden: Do NOT Hold Israel or Israeli Settlers Accountable!!!!

  • 2/29/24: Sens. Rick Scott, Tom Cotton & Colleagues to Biden: Rescind Directives Intended to Undermine Israelis [letter text]. Excerpt: “We write regarding your February 1, 2024 Executive Order 14115 and February 8, 2024 National Security Memorandum 20 undermining Israeli operations against Hamas in Gaza. Both documents undercut our most valuable alliance in the Middle East. We call on you to rescind both documents and to sanction terrorists and their supporters instead of their victims. Your February 1 EO grants the State Department broad authority to arbitrarily punish Israelis in Judea and Samaria, with no defined standards for determining when sanctions are warranted. Under the guise of “peace, security, or stability of the West Bank,” it appears the State Department can punish arbitrarily any Israeli it wants. Yet, the State Department hasn’t acted against the Palestinian Authority, which makes ‘pay to slay’ payments to terrorists for murdering innocent Israeli families. Nor has the State Department taken significant action to counter the surge in Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank, which increased by 350 percent in 2023, including 300 shooting attacks. Your February 8 memorandum similarly—and falsely—implies that Israel is committing mass war crimes in its campaign against Hamas and threatens to cut off aid unless Israel meets arbitrary deadlines for providing “assurances” regarding international humanitarian law. Yet, we already have rules requiring aid recipients to comply with applicable law and in line with American interests. Moreover, Israel has provided ample evidence of the steps it takes to avoid civilian casualties, which Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, John Kirby, acknowledged publicly. ” Also see: press release – Cotton, Colleagues to Biden: Rescind Directives Punishing, Undermining Israelis

Concerns for Palestinians Lives

  • CIRCULATING AS OF 2/29/24: Letter to Biden Administration Regarding Reportedly Imminent Invasion of Rafah [Dear Colleague; Letter text], originated by Castro (D-TX), Raskin (D-MD), and Schakowsky (D-IL), and endorsed by Americans for Peace Now, J Street, Foreign Policy 4 America, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). This letter is set to close for signatures on March 4, 2024.

Supporting “temporary” ceasefire

Targeting Palestinians & Anyone Associated with Them (including a dead US serviceman)

  • 2/28/24: Cotton to Austin: Why Was Airman Who Self-Immolated Allowed to Serve? [letter text] [“Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, asking him to provide information of the active-duty U.S. airman who self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. on February 25. Senator Cotton asked Secretary Austin to respond to the “serious questions” by March 7 as to why the airman was allowed to serve when he obviously harbored extreme, anti-American views.“]
  • 2/23/24: Ogles (R-TN) letter #1 (with 4 GOP cosigners) to House Appropriations Committee leaders – Deport Palestinians Now!  [letter text].  Ogles: “The administration’s efforts to allow an untold number of Palestinians to stay in this country, when they would otherwise be inadmissible or deportable, is just the latest in Joe Biden’s treasonous efforts to expand the illegal invasion crisis. The vast majority of Palestinians support Hamas’ atrocities committed on October 7; the presence of Hamas sympathizers poses a significant threat to our national security, and it’s past time to send them back.

Other stuff

  • 2/27/24: Rubio Pushes Foreign Allies to Continue Israel Support“A Dutch appeals court has issued a decision that threatens to stop the supply of American-made F-35 jet parts to Israel. The court’s ruling, in favor of anti-Israel foreign activists, demonstrates how such groups threaten the ability of the United States, and other countries, to provide needed military assistance. As a result, this decision could prevent Israel, one of the United States’ closest allies, from defending itself against terrorist groups. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with regard to the military supply chain problems this court decision has revealed that could prevent America from defending itself and its allies.” [letter text]. Also see: Rubio: ‘Unsettling’ that foreign courts can block US arms shipment to allies amid war (Jewish News Syndicate 2/28/24)


3. Hearings & Markups

March 7, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere will hold a hearing entitled, “The Agents of Antisemitism in Latin America.”  The sole scheduled witness is State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt.

February 29, 2024: The House Armed Services held a hearing entitled, “A Review of Defense Secretary Austin’s Unannounced Absence.” The sole witness was Secretary of Defense Austin (statement). Also see: hearing video. This hearing included a significant discussion of the Biden Administration’s policy regarding Israel’s war on Gaza. Austin’s exchange with Khanna (D-CA), which included Austin talking about how many Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, 2023, was quickly transformed into a media/hasbara controversy, with predictable, well-rehearsed accusations that Austin was citing “Hamas” numbers. As a reminder, the numbers of dead provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health have proven in previous wars to be accurate (and, indeed, are relied on and cited by Israeli officials). Moreover, the current numbers being cited by that Ministry are widely understood as highly conservative, as they do not count the thousands of Palestinians whose bodies remain buried under rubble or whose deaths were not reported to the ministry and whose bodies were simply buried by survivors. But hey, why should facts get in the way of a super fun opportunity for defenders of Israel to yet again delegitimize/attack Palestinians even as they are being killed en masses? And the fact that Austin’s comment also provided a super fun opportunity for Israel and Republicans to suggest that the Biden Administration – which for 5 months has done everything possible to defend and support Israel’s genocide in Gaza – is pro-Hamas just makes this irresistible, amirite? See: Democrat grills Austin on lack of consequences for Israel over Gaza death toll (The Hill); Pentagon head says over 25,000 women, kids killed in Gaza, inflating Hamas claim (Times of Israel); Pentagon ‘clarifies’ Austin cited Hamas statistics in testimony to Congress (Israel Hayom); Pentagon walks back Austin’s Gaza casualty figures (Reuters)

February 29, 2024: The House Committee on Education & the Workforce held a “Bipartisan Member Roundtable” entitled, “Antisemitism at Postsecondary Institutions.” Participants were all students: Shabbos Kestenbaum, Harvard University (statement – this student is part of a lawsuit against Harvard that uses the IHRA definition as its hook); Noah Rubin, University of Pennsylvania (statement); Talia Khan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (statement); Eden Yadegar, Columbia University (statement); Hannah Beth Schlacter, University of California, Berkeley (statement); Joe J. Gindi, Rutgers University (statement); Kevin Feigelis, Stanford University (statement); Yasmeen Ohebsion, Tulane University (statement); and Jacob Khalili, Cooper Union (statement). Also see:

  • video of the roundtable (note the applause from the room after some student statements).
  • Highlights of the Q&A include: Rep. Manning (D-NC) comparing the current moment to 1932 Germany all over again, and pogroms in 1903 Russia; Rep. Owens (R-UT) comparing Jewish students today to Black students during the civil rights era (in effect casting Palestine rights protesters state/police-backed white supremacists and racists); Rep. Torres (D-NY) quoting MLK  — “History will record that the greatest tragedy is not the strident clamor of the bad people, but it’s the appalling silence of the good people” — during an event that is taking place while Israelis committing an actual genocide in Gaza, and on the same day that more than 100 starving Palestinians were killed trying to get food in northern Gaza – shot by Israel, run over by Israeli vehicles, or trampled in the crush of people trying to flee Israeli guns and vehicles (Israel’s actions over the past 5 months – the defense of which are central to what the students and Congress are calling antisemitism – were not mentioned a single time during this nearly 90 minute event); and Rep. Allen (R-GA) citing the Bible, Genesis 12:3 (suggesting that God will bless those who are good to the Jews and curse those who are not).
  • Note that the event included multiple references to Congress holding universities accountable; promises of new legislation; and a call for an on-site 3rd party or federal monitor/watchdog on campuses to enforce Congress’s views on what is antisemitism (raised by Torres).
  • Foxx (R-NC) opening statement [“…This Committee will continue to hold universities accountable. Today, we will hear from nine students about the antisemitism they and their fellow students are experiencing and how their administrations are responding…Even after December’s hearing, university leaders are still not correcting course. Let me be clear: This is not about policing speech or opinions, even if disagreeable or offensive. It is about protecting Jewish students from the harassment, threats, intimidation, and assaults plaguing their campuses—as universities are obligated to under Title VI but have repeatedly failed to do. That failure is unacceptable.”
  • Notably, the through-line for the entire roundtable, including the central point in the statements of every student participant, was the conflation of Jewish identity with support for/identification with Israel (conflation that, when committed by critics of Israel, is rightly recognized as ANTISEMITIC), and by extension the conflation of criticism/activism targeting Israel, and assertions of Palestinian rights/identity/grievances/national aspiration as ipso facto antisemitism.
  • Media: Jewish students recount a series of campus horror stories at congressional roundtable (Jewish Insider 3/1/24); Jewish Students Describe Facing Antisemitism on Campus to Members of Congress (New York Times 3/1/24)

February 28, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will held a hearing entitled, “Tehran’s Shadow Army: Addressing Iran’s Proxy Network in the Middle East.” Witnesses were: The Brookings Institution Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy Suzanne Maloney (statement) and Cerberus Global Investments Vice Chairman Brian Hook (statement). Also see: Risch (R-ID) opening statement; hearing video.

February 27, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism held a hearing entitled, Yemen and Red Sea Security Issues.” Witnesses were State Department Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking (statement) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dan Shapiro (statement). NOTE: This whole 2-hour hearing is very much worth watching in full. It includes serious questions from some members of Congress regarding the Biden Admininstration’s policy of bombing Yemen and, relatedly, its policies vis-a-vis Israel’s war on Gaza. Also see:

  • hearing video;
  • Dan Shapiro: Houthi attacks ‘almost entirely unrelated to Israel’ (Jewish News Syndicate 2/29/24).
  • The hearing included a testy exchange between Van Hollen (D-MD) and Hagerty (R-TN) (starting at 01:25:17). Van Hollen, responding to allegations by Hagerty that humanitarian aid from the UN and others is being diverted by Hamas,  noting that David Satterfield, the US Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues, has made absolutely clear that with respect to aid from UN organizations and international NGOS, he has had no reports of diversion of such aid to Hamas, including from Israelis. Hagerty responds (interrupts, with his tone dripping with contempt), that he has had “direct reports from Israelis” that this is exactly what is happening, and suggests that Satterfield hasn’t bothered talking to the Israeli national security advisor.
  • It also included a notable (and somewhat surreal) exchange between Sen. Van Hollen and Ambassador Shapiro (starting around 01:25:25). Van Hollen pointed out that Houthi attacks are connected to Israel’s war on Gaza. Shapiro largely dismissed this argument, leading Van Hollen to point out that Houthi attacks on shipping “went down significantly during the period of the humanitarian pause in November.” Shapiro agreed there was a “decline” during that period (but not a “complete cessation“), noting that there have been various “spikes and valleys” in these attacks, but said he does not know to what we can attribute that. He went on to muse that drops in Houthi attacks may well be the result of U.S. airstrikes on Yemen, “while they re-load and prepare for their next strikes.” Van Hollen responded, accurately, that at the time of the November ceasefire, the US had not yet begun bombing Yemen [meaning that it is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that a drop in Houthi attacks during that period is somehow the result of the U.S. policy of bombing Yemen]..


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

Israel’s War on Gaza

US politics/elex

More $$ for Israel

Biden Policies