FMEP Legislative Round-Up: September 3, 2020


1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Hearings & Markups
3. On the Record

*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!

Shameless plug: This week FMEP, together with the Middle East Institute, convened 2 webinars looking at “The Implications of the Israel-UAE Deal.” Part 1 (Sept 1 at 11am EDT) featured experts from the region (Liz Tsurkov, Marwa Fatafta, Sam Bahour); and Part 2 featured US experts (Annelle Sheline, Steven Cook, Jim Zogby). Both were excellent – well worth your time! If you missed them live you can watch the videos here.

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters



(INVESTIGATE TRUMP ADMIN FOR HATCH ACT VIOLATIONS AT RNC) Maloney et al letter to OSC: On 9/3, Rep Maloney (D-NY), the Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee — along with Rep. Connolly (D-VA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations; Rep. Lynch (D-MA), Chair of the Subcommittee on National Security; and Rep, Plaskett (D-VI) member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee — sent a letter to Special Counsel Henry Kerner, in the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, requesting that “the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) conduct a series of independent investigations on multiple potential violations of the Hatch Act by the Trump Administration during the Republican National Convention.” The 9-page letter enumerates various concerns, including (on pages 7-8) concerns about political activities undertaken by Secretary of State Pompeo while abroad. The letter notes: “Secretary Pompeo filmed a video from the roof of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel that was shown as part of the Convention on August 25, 2020. Secretary Pompeo’s speech advocated for reelecting President Trump. He stated: ‘The way each of us can best ensure our freedoms is by electing leaders who don’t just talk, but who deliver’ and called on Americans to ‘stay the course.’ Secretary Pompeo’s speech raises concerns about the use of federal resources for the Secretary’s political activity, including the cost of his travel.

(TWITTER SECURITY CONCERNS/KSA) Comer letter to Twitter CEO: On 9/2, Rep. Comer (R-KY), Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The press release asks Dorsey to provide the Committee “with information about what measures and employee training the company has put in place to prevent cyberattacks” and notes that “Ranking Member Comer also demanded Twitter provide a briefing regarding recent lawsuits made public alleging that two Twitter employees with access to more than 6,000 user accounts worked as spies for the government of Saudi Arabia. The information they gathered and passed on to the Saudi government was then used to torture and abduct dissidents.”

2. Hearings & Markups

9/9: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism will convene a hearing entitled, “Egypt: Trends in Politics, Economics, and Human Rights.” Witnesses will be: Michele Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Amy Hawthorne, Project on Middle East Democracy; Tamara Cofman Wittes, The Brookings Institution; and Samuel Tadros, Hudson Institute.

3. On the Record

Members Cheering Plane Trip from Israel-UAE

Young (R-IN) 9/2: Tweet – This is welcome progress towards the furtherance of Peace in the Middle East. My hope is more Arab nations join the example set by UAE in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.” [with link to article about KSA opening its airspace to Israeli flights]

Graham (R-SC) 9/2: Twitter thread – “Congratulations to the Trump Administration and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for yet another sea change in the Middle East. A change in policy thought to be impossible just weeks ago has now become reality. A major step forward in normalizing the Mideast and replacing policies of the past with opportunities for the future. I appreciate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for making this important change. It will not go unnoticed in Washington and throughout capitals around the world.”  [with link to same article as Young tweet, above]

McCarthy (R-CA) 8/31: Tweet – For the first time, a commercial flight traveled from Israel to UAE over Saudi Arabian airspace. The word ‘peace’ was written on the plane. A three-hour flight that represents the end of decades of conflict. This is a moment the entire world should come together to celebrate.

Armstrong (R-ND) 8/31: Tweet – “History made.”

Blackburn (R-TN) 8/31: Tweet-  “This is a historic day for Israel, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Thank you, @realDonaldTrump!”

Waltz (R-FL) 8/31: Tweet – “Huge foreign policy achievement in the Middle East for President @realDonaldTrump and his administration. I fought with the UAE as a Green Beret and am proud to see these peace talks build a safer Middle East & a safer world. An achievement worth celebrating worldwide

Kustoff (R-TN) 8/31: Tweet – “History was made today with the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE! Thank you @realDonaldTrump for your continued leadership in helping to bring peace to this region!

Members in general

Cruz (R-TX) 9/3: Op-ed for Real Clear Politics – “On National Security, Americans Have a Clear Choice in November [heavy on Israel/Iran]

Castro (D-CA) 9/3: Tweet – “@SecPompeo signed a policy prohibiting @StateDept employees from participating in a political convention. Then he broke his own rule and used taxpayer resources for political gain (not lawful!). Pompeo must turn over all relevant documents to Congress.” With link to article: “It was lawful.’: Pompeo defends controversial RNC speech”

McGovern (D-MA) 9/2: Rep. McGovern Slams Trump Administration for Misguided Decision to Impose Sanctions on International Criminal Court Officials

Omar (D-MN) 9/2: Statement on Administration’s Announcement of Sanctions Against ICC Officials

Omar (D-MN), Speier (D-CA), Bonamici (D-OR), Dean (D-PA), Schiff (D-CA), Trone (D-MD), and Levin (D-MI) 9/2: Statement on Saudi Embassy’s Lack of Response to Letter on Detained Women Activists

Scott (R-FL) 8/28: Op-ed in the Washington Examiner – “In the New Cold War, China emulates the Soviet Union” [“Communist China claims that its goal is to bring ‘peace and security to the world.’ Why, then, is it preparing to establish a far-reaching military and economic partnership with Iran? Why would a country concerned with peace and security align with the world’s leading state sponsor of terror?

Articles and Reports Related to the Hill


Algemeiner 9/3: Neal Holds on in Democratic Primary Against Anti-Israel Challenger

Jewish News Syndicate 9/2: Neal holds on in Democratic primary against anti-Israel challenger

The Forward 9/2: A Jewish progressive, loses bid to oust powerful Massachusetts incumbent

Al-Monitor 9/2: Congressman beats challenger who wants to condition US aid to Israel

Times of Israel 9/2: Jewish challenger fails to oust incumbent in closely watched Democratic primary

JTA 9/1: 3 House races, 6 Jewish candidates: What we’re watching in the Massachusetts primaries today

Haaretz 9/1: Massachusetts Primary Pits pro-Israel Incumbent Against Progressive Challenger – but This One Could Have a Twist

Jewish News Syndicate 8/31: Israel support pushed to side in heated Massachusetts congressional primary [note 1: original title, based on the URL, appears to have been: “Is Another Pro-Israel Democrat About to Bite the Dust”; note 2: despite widespread reporting debunking the sordid campaign of manufactured allegations against Morse, the article sub-heading states that Morse has been “dogged by allegations of sexual impropriety” and exchoes this point in the body of the article).

Jewish Insider 8/31: Massachusetts Dems say Israel a factor in their voting, new poll shows [An article that, notably, can’t seem to decide if polling does or does not matter. Exhibit A (polling results being spun as to-be-taken-seriously): “Of those polled, 56% of voters in the 1st district and 55% of voters in the 4th district said a candidate’s support for Israel greatly or somewhat impacts their vote on Election Day. In the 1st district, 44% said support for Israel matters a little or not at all, while in the 4th district that number is at 45%. The polls have a margin of error of ±4.4.%. ‘This is significant, since poll respondents often resist admitting that their vote can be swayed by a single issue, particularly in the realm of foreign policy,’ said John Del Cecato of RABA Research.” Exhibit B (polling results being spun as not-to-be-taken-seriously): “In the Neal-Morse race, a plurality of voters — 48% — think aid to Israel should be conditioned upon Israel making changes to their policies towards Palestinians, while 34% want military assistance to continue without conditions. Eighteen percent — including 29% of voters who identified as “very liberal” — were not sure or expressed no opinion. In Kennedy’s House district, 53% of those surveyed are in favor of conditioning aid to Israel, while 32% are opposed. Some 15% were unsure. Among voters who identify as ‘very liberal,’ 63% are in favor of conditioning aid. Sarna noted that he’s ‘hesitant to read too much’ into the findings because most people are not familiar with the nuances of aid to Israel.”]

Jewish Insider 8/31: Kennedy, Markey have a history of blaming Palestinians for failed peace talks

Middle East Eye 8/31: Morse v Neal: Debate over Israel arises in another Democratic primary

Other News

Jerusalem Post 9/3: Republicans looking ahead to 2024 are playing the Israel card

Responsible Statecraft 9/2: How a proposed new fund to bolster the Palestinian economy stands to benefit Israeli settlers

Jerusalem Post 9/2: UAE also wants good ties with US Jewish lobby