Congress has introduced over 70 pieces of Israel-centric legislation so far in 2021

Congress has introduced over 70 pieces of Israel-centric legislation so far in 2021

The US Congress can’t agree on much, but they manage to keep a stream of legislation – and cash – for Israel flowing year-round. (Pictured: United States Capitol building in Washington, DC.)

With documentation from 150 sources, If Americans Knew presents over 70 pieces of legislation now under consideration in Congress, which seek to guarantee Israel, not just $10 million a day in military aid, but also an additional $10 million per day expended on items because they benefit Israel, as well as protection from criticism, condemnation of its adversaries, and support for new allies – with nothing in return, and in spite of Israel’s bad behavior. Justice for Palestinians is the subject of one bill.

by Kathryn Shihadah

For a country that practices apartheid, defies international law, and engages in ethnic cleansing, Israel is popular in the US Congress. During just about 125 days in session, the houses of Congress managed to entertain more than 70 new pieces of legislation pandering to Israel.

It is no coincidence that the pro-Israel lobby is arguably the most pervasive and influential lobby in the U.S. – and that Israel partisans, many of them billionaires, make massive campaign donations to both parties.

This year’s legislative items include plenty of military aid and non-financial perks for Israel, and scoldings for those who speak ill (if truthfully) of the Jewish state.

Americans need to know how generous our legislators are with our tax dollars – toward a country that is universally known to be a human rights abuser. Below is a list of legislation currently under consideration in Congress (and there will be more in the coming days). Also find links to plenty of facts about Israel –  illustrating that Israel may not be the sort of state that Americans should bankroll.

(Note that the three bills in support of Palestinian rights – one quite robust, and two marginally beneficial – at the bottom of the article.)

A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunis following an Israeli airstrike on targets in the southern Gaza strip, May 12, 2021. During the recent violence, Israeli military forces killed 260 Gazans, while Palestinian resistance forces killed 13 Israelis – sources & more information here. (YOUSSEF MASSOUD | Credit: AFP via Getty Images)

Legislation to provide money for Israel

This first batch of legislation seeks to provide the standard annual $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel ($10.8 million a day), and then some.

Since 1946, two years before Israel’s founding on 78% of mandatory Palestine, the US has given Israel $154.7 billion in total military aid (adjusted for inflation: $243.9 billion) – more US assistance than any other country since World War II – this in spite of US laws that forbid military aid to countries committing gross human rights violations (like Israel).

Some of the legislation listed here ensures the flow of the usual sum of $3.8 billion a year; others seek to fund Israel through less direct ways. If these pass, taken together they may bring our daily contribution on behalf of Israel closer to $20 million.

H.R.4373 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2022
  • This bill provides the largest chunk – $3.3 billion – in military aid to Israel, and encourages Arab states to end their boycott of Israel and normalize relations.
  • This bill also earmarks $3 billion more in expenditures not to Israel itself, but for Israel’s benefit.
  • Read about the billions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for Israel in this bill here.
H.R.4432 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2022
  • This bill provides FY2022 appropriations to the Department of Defense (DOD) for military activities, including $500 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system (despite the fact that Israel, a human rights abuser, sells military technology to other states that are human rights abusers, and refuses to share some technology with the US, even though we subsidized its development).
  • Read the details of funding to Israel in this bill here; read about the massive US investment in Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system here (and US expenditures overall in Israel here); read about the minor effects of Gazan rockets on Israel here; read about Israel’s refusal to share technology with the US here.
H.J.Res.54, S.1751, H.R.3706, H.R.3977, S.2944, H.R.5323, S.2789, S.2839, S.2830, H.R.5311, H.R.5305: bills (introduced in the weeks following the attack on Gaza) to provide, through various means, extra funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system 
  • These bills call for an additional $1 billion in emergency funding for Israel’s Iron Dome (on top of the standard $500 million/year), with various fiscal strategies, including taking money earmarked for Gaza or the Palestinian authority.
  • Several of the bills were introduced following the removal of the “emergency” $1 billion in Iron Dome funding from the budget bill. The removal of the funding demonstrated America’s waning support for Israel; the flurry of separate bills demonstrates Congress’ ongoing infatuation with Israel.
  • Israel “needed” the funding because its military had depleted its Iron Dome materiel during an attack on Gaza – in which Israel killed 260 Gazan Palestinians (vs. 13 Israelis killed).
  • H.R.5305 may be in a league of its own because of the deviousness with which its Iron Dome funding appeared as a line item. Read about it here.
  • Read about the massive US investment in Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system here (and US expenditures overall in Israel here); read about the minor effects of Gazan rockets on Israel here; read about Israel’s recent attack on Gaza that resulted in depletion of Iron Dome supplies here and here.
S.Con.Res.14 Setting forth the congressional budget for the US Government for fiscal year 2022 and budgetary levels for fiscal years 2023 through 2031 and S.Con.Res.5 – A concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and budgetary levels for 2022 through 2030
  • An amendment in S.Con.Res.14 establishes a reserve fund for preventing terrorist attacks and ensuring that no US tax dollars benefit terrorist organizations “such as Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad”; part of S.Con.Res.5 relates to funding for the US Embassy in “Jerusalem, Israel.”
  • Read about Israel’s (and America’s) controversial use of the word “terrorist” here, here, and here.
  • Read about the controversial move of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem here, and about the Palestinian struggle to hold onto East Jerusalem here.
S.1193 & H.R.2659 US-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2021 and S.2120 ​​& H.R.5148 United States–Israel Artificial Intelligence Center Act
  • These four bills propose that the US partner with Israel to facilitate (and pay for) cybersecurity research and development. The Dept. of Homeland Security would provide “not less that $6 million” a year; the State Dept., Commerce Dept., and National Science Foundation would provide another $10 million a year.
  • The legislation is framed as part of the fight against Russian, Iranian, and Chinese technological advances and/or cyberattacks – but ignores the fact that Israeli cyber technology has gone rogue again and again, is suspected in a high-profile murder, and has been caught multiple times spying on the US. Israel’s most notorious US spy exhorted young Jews to spy on America for Israel (“if we’re Jews, we will always have dual loyalty”).
S.221 & H.R.852 United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act (also mentioned in H.R.4350–NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act)
  • These bills establish a grant program (no dollar amount indicated) for collaboration between the US and Israel to advance research on post-traumatic stress disorders. “Our ally Israel, under constant attack from terrorist groups, experiences similar issues with Israeli veterans facing PTSD symptoms.” (The bill overlooks the fact that Palestinians have suffered from Israel’s devastating attacks at a much higher rate than Israelis have suffered from Palestinians’ meager attempts at resistance.) 
  • Read about Gazan trauma here (especially for children) here and here; read a comparison of Israeli airstrikes and Gazan rockets here and here (video here).
S.1518 To authorize appropriations for the US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Fund 
  • This bill would create a blank check (“such sums as are necessary”) to support agricultural R&D activities mutually beneficial to the US and Israel – embracing Israel’s “legitimacy” in the international community, in spite of its rampant human rights abuses that have drawn censure from most of the world.
  • Read  about Israel’s destruction of the natural environment of Palestine here.
segregated road in israel (legislation)
Non-monetary legislation for Israel includes recognition of Israel as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” Pictured: view of  segregated road (Route 4370), northeast of Jerusalem, which separates vehicles of Israeli citizens and non-citizens. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/JNS)

Legislation to provide non-monetary perks for Israel

As always, Congress members lined up to introduce legislation in support of what they claim is America’s “greatest ally.” The facts don’t support this claim – see this, and this, and this and this.

S.Res.226 Expressing the sense of the Senate that the US supports Israel, our greatest ally in the region, and its right to defend itself against terrorist attacks
  • This resolution denounces Hamas rockets (but not Israeli airstrikes), mourns the loss of 13 Israeli lives caused by the rockets (but not the 260 Palestinian lives lost due to airstrikes), and urges “steadfast support for Israel” (but not for justice and self-determination for Palestinians).
  • Read about Israel’s alleged “right to self defense” here, about Hamas rockets here and here, and about Israel as America’s supposed “greatest ally” here.
H.R.3976 America Stands with Israel Act
  • This bill authorizes the President to introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or to direct immediate transfer of defense articles or services to ensure the survival of Israel and its people from an existing or imminent threat. The President thus would act without oversight or limitation, and could tell Congress about such actions after the fact.
  • Israel’s “existential threat” ideology rests on its “vulnerability”; it claims to be threatened by the Palestinian-led boycott movement (BDS), by the rising Palestinian population, by Iran and Gaza, and by the “delegitimization” caused by factual reporting on its human rights abuses.
  • Read about a high-ranking Israeli who insists that Israel no longer faces any existential threat here; read the deconstruction of the nonviolent BDS movement as an existential threat here; read about Israel’s response to the growing Palestinian population (“demographic threat”) here; read about Israel’s disproportionately powerful military here; Israel’s “secret” nukes here; and Israel’s decades of human rights abuses here, here, and here.
H.Res.394 Expresses support for Israel’s efforts of self-determination and collective security against external forces, recognizes Jerusalem as the legitimate capital city of Israel, and condemns actions by Hamas against the people of Israel
  • This resolution, introduced during Israel’s attack on Gaza, purports to support both Israelis’ and Palestinians’ right to live in peace and security, then condemns Hamas rockets only (not Israel’s aggression that prompted the rockets), recognizes Israel’s (but not Palestine’s) claim to Jerusalem and right to self-determination.
  • Read about Israel’s attack on Gaza here and here; about Hamas rockets here and here, and Israel’s actions in Jerusalem here and here.
H.Res.422 MORDECAI Resolution
  • This resolution declares that Israel is a crucial ally of the US, and that antisemitism and hostility against Israel should be rejected. The language claims that Israel “is the only democracy in the Middle East”; that Gazan resistance rockets are “unprovoked”; and that boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) is used by “radical, racist, and extremist organizations.” All of these claims are inaccurate.
  • Read about the myth that Israel is a democracy here; read a few examples of why the people of Gaza resist Israel here and here; read about Gaza rockets here and here; read about the nonviolent Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement here and here, and why BDS is not antisemitic here.
palestinian man carrying a bag of flour from UNRWA
One piece of pro-Israel legislation seeks to halt the resumption of aid to the UN agency providing food for Gaza’s poorest. (Pictured: UNRWA food distribution for Palestine refugees in Gaza during the COVID-19 pandemic is being conducted through home deliveries.) (Khalil Adwan UNRWA)

Legislation censuring Palestinians (Hamas and other “terrorists”), their allies, and other ne’er-do-wells

A supply of new legislation in 2021, as always, takes the form of threats and punishment of Israel’s adversaries.

H.R.1543 No Social Media Accounts for Terrorists or State Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2021
  • The purpose of this bill is to provide authorities to prohibit the provision of services by social media platforms to certain individuals and entities on the Specially Designated Nationals List and senior officials of governments of a state sponsor of terrorism. The bill provides 4 examples of foreign leaders who have used their social media accounts to promote hate – 3 of them involved alleged “antisemitic” rhetoric; the 4th names a regime “responsible for multiple gross violations of human rights.”
  • Read about Israeli officials’ use of social media to spread hate and racism here and here, and their manipulation of social media here and here; read about Israel’s appropriation of “antisemitism” to cover its atrocities here; read about Israel’s gross violations of human rights here and here.
S.2479  & H.R.4721 UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act
  • The purpose of these bills is to withhold US contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). As the Biden administration makes plans to restore funding to UNRWA cut by Trump, the bill alludes to the Israel-centric IHRA definition of antisemitism, seeks to limit refugee status, and recommends withhold funding from UNRWA unless every employee passes an extreme vetting process (e.g. conveying information that calls Israelis “occupiers” or “settlers,” supports BDS or the Palestinian right of return, or shows a map that does not include Israel).
  • Read about UNRWA cuts here and here, the IHRA definition of antisemitism here, and the Right of Return here.
S.1904 & H.R.261 Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2021; H.R.3685 Hamas International Financing Prevention Act; S.1899 Stop Taxpayer Funding of Hamas Act
  • These bills impose sanctions on individuals and groups (including governments and the UN) that support Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and any affiliate or successor groups, or that encourage “anti-Israel or antisemitic ideas or propaganda.”
  • Read the little-known facts about Hamas’ and Israel’s weapons here and here (video here); read about the severity of Israel’s impact on Gazan life here and here; read about the United Nations and Israel here.
H.Res.396 Condemning the rocket attacks perpetrated against Israel by Hamas in May, 2021, and expressing that the US must continue to invest in and support Israel’s security and sovereignty
  • This resolution declares Israel’s right to self-defense and denounces Hamas rockets, while ignoring Gazans’ right to self-defense and overlooking Israel’s 14-year blockade, its many brutal attacks, and the preventable humanitarian disaster Israel has caused for the people of Gaza.
  • Read about Israel’s attack on Gaza here and here; about Hamas rockets here and here, and about Israel as America’s supposed “greatest ally” here.
H.R.2374 Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act
  • This is a repeat of a bill that was introduced in the last session of Congress (H.R.2343), about the alleged failure of the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA to “eliminate all content and passages encouraging violence or intolerance” from textbooks, perpetuating the falsehood that Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews. Studies have found that Palestinian textbooks are largely neutral (as they have been monitored closely for years) – unlike Israel textbooks which, according to Israeli scholar and academic Nurit Peled-Elhanan, regularly “marginalize Palestinians, legitimize Israeli military action and reinforce Jewish-Israeli territorial identity.”
  • Read about studies of Palestinian textbook content here (also book, video) and here; read about the ADL, which itself prepares educational materials for US schools on equality – but silence calls for equality when it comes to Palestinians, here.
S.2829 Mind Your Own Business Act
  • This bill would hold corporate officers personally liable when actions they take on behalf of the corporation are considered political, “un-American,” or in some other way not in the best interests of the shareholders. It specifically mentioned the act of “boycotting a state.”
  • As Foundation for Middle East Peace explains, “the bill would on the one hand open up companies to shareholder lawsuits if they take business decisions that reflect their progressive political views/ideologies/conscience, while on the other hand, it would explicitly exempt from this same shareholder accountability companies that act to punish other companies for boycotting Israel/settlements.”
  • This proposed restriction on free speech ignores the fact that Americans in general are very supportive of boycotts: only about 1 in 5 agree with such anti-BDS legislation.
  • Read more about S.2829 here; read about the nonviolent Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement here and here, and why BDS is not antisemitic here.

Legislation seeking to limit or censure free speech when used to criticize Israel (sometimes erroneously called “the new antisemitism”)

A number of bills and resolutions were introduced during and after Israel’s attack on Gaza in May – some were related to alleged and actual antisemitic incidents triggered by the attack; others targeted Congress members who criticized Israel’s actions.

S.Res.250, S.Res.252, H.Res.428, S.1939, H.R.3515, H.Res.557 (all of these resolutions are built on an inaccurate, Israel-centric reading of current events, in which pro-Palestine or pro-Hamas Americans attacked or harassed Jews (allegedly antisemitic acts), triggered by “violence against Israel” at that time)
  • S.Res.250 is Israel-centric, mentioning Israel 16 times. S.Res.250 affirms Israel’s “right to self-defense” and labels the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as antisemitism. The title of S.Res.250 places blame for Israel’s attack on “terrorists” from the Gaza Strip. S.Res. 252 focuses more on actual antisemitism, and mentions Israel twice, although the “antisemitic violence and harassment” it refers to have been disputed.
  • Three of the bills refer to alleged antisemitic incidents tracked by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – an organization with a strong pro-Israel bias. 
  • Read about Israel’s dangerous misappropriation of the term “antisemitism” here; read about Israel’s alleged “right to self defense” here; read about why BDS is not antisemitic here and here; read a comparison of the weapons of Gazan “terrorists” vs. Israel here; read a rebuttal of the alleged antisemitic nature of incidents in May here; read about the ADL, which claims to fight for human rights everywhere but ignores Palestinian rights, here and here; Read about the run-up to Israel’s attack on Gaza here (note the warnings Israel was given in the timeline), Israel’s attack here and here.
S.Res.232, H.Res.474, and H.Res.431 accuse Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) of various “antisemitic” statements (see below) in relation to Israel’s attack on Gaza in May. 
  • The resolutions describe the reps’ comments – all of which were factual and not antisemitic – as “poisonous rhetoric,” and accuse them of “defending foreign terrorist organizations and inciting antisemitic attacks across the United States,” and declare that “blaming Israel for Hamas rocket attacks…is a form of antisemitic speech.”
  • Some of the statements the legislation denounces:
  • Cori Bush tweeted, “The Israeli military’s occupation continues. The blockade continues. The ethnic cleansing continues.” These statements are accurate: see this, this, and this.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar described Israel as an “apartheid state.” This reality has been detailed by experts and others here and here.
  • Rashida Tlaib tweeted that the Israeli military was killing “babies, children and their parents,” and asserted that Palestinians are “being massacred” in a form of “ethnic cleansing.” These are also accurate statements. See this and this.
  • Ayanna Pressley said in a House speech, “We cannot remain silent when our government sends $3.8 billion of military aid to Israel that is used to demolish Palestinian homes, imprison Palestinian children, and displace Palestinian families,” and “the pain, trauma and terror that Palestinians are facing is not just the result of this week’s escalation, but the consequence of years of military occupation.” See this.
  • Pramila Jayapal stated in a CNN interview, “we condemn Hamas’ firing of those rockets, but I think you have to look at what prompted even that behavior…this has been a pattern of action from Israel that…has led to increased hopelessness from the Palestinian people…we have to look at the power balance here, or imbalance as it were, and we have to put more responsibility on Israel in maintaining peace in the region.”
  • Read about Israel’s appropriation of “antisemitism” to cover its atrocities here; read about Israel’s May attack on Gaza here and here.

Legislation that promotes Israel internationally

This session of Congress has seen a slew of bills that, rather than giving Israel “special” treatment, seek to position Israel as just another state like all the rest. This tacit acceptance of Israel as a “normal” state ignores the fact that it was established in 1948 by a war of ethnic cleansing, has been violating international laws for decades, has been censured by the United Nations hundreds of times, and is therefore considered a rogue state by much of the world.

H.R.2409 U.S.-Israel Cooperation Expansion Act
  • The purpose of this bill is to support security and law enforcement training and cooperation between the US and Israel, specifically by supporting the inclusion of Israel in the International Law Enforcement Academies in Europe (ILEAs are training facilities run by the US Department of State, to instruct local police on counterterrorism and other practices). 
  • Read about how Israeli police teach American forces militaristic, often violent techniques, and Israeli officers’ use of torture and other cruel methods against Palestinians here.  (video here).
S.1061 & H.R.2748 Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021
  • This bill requires the Department of State to take certain actions promoting the normalization of relations between Israel, Arab states, and other relevant countries and regions, building on the so-called Abraham Accords of 2020.
  • Read about the Abraham Accords here; read about the “normalization” of Israel here and here.
S.Res.344 Expressing support for the State of Israel joining the African Union under observer status
  • This resolution encourages heightened cooperation between the State of Israel and African nations, particularly in areas such as economic growth, sustainable agriculture, and humanitarian development – in spite of the fact that many African nations object strongly to Israel’s presence.
  • This resolution declares that Israel, “in the span of a few decades, has emerged as a developed nation and therefore offers an example of a path to economic progress for developing countries” – a statement that belies the fact that the US has ensured Israel’s “development” with subsidies to the tune of $243.9 billion (adjusted for inflation); the statement also ignores the fact that Israel joined the AU without approval from the 55 member states, and the move has been described as a breach of the AU’s own protocols.
  • Read more about Israel and the African Union here and here.
S.1260 United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, or Endless Frontiers Act
  • This bill seeks to establish programs to strengthen US leadership (over China) in critical technologies. One amendment solicits “cooperation with our close friends and allies,” specifically including Israel, and excluding “nations that engage in discriminatory boycott, divestment, and sanctioning (BDS) efforts” against Israel – including “Jews living anywhere in Israel.”
  • The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) explains this last phrase as targeting “the mere act of differentiation between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories…to coerce the entire world into treating the West Bank and Israeli settlements in it as part of Israel.
  • Read about illegal Israeli settlements here; read about the nonviolent Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement here and here, and why BDS is not antisemitic here; read about Israel’s de facto annexation of parts of the West Bank here and here.
H.R.3569 Organ Donation Clarification Act of 2021
  • This bill is a repeat of legislation that died in the last session of Congress (H.R.7900). Its purpose is to clarify parts of the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act. In addition to citing statistics showing how economical organ transplants are, the bill singles out Israel for the “sweeping changes” it made to its national organ donation program in 2010, and as a result saw organ donation approximately triple over a 10-year period. The bill neglects to mention Israel’s history on the subject of organ trafficking.
  • Read a review of the 2020 version of this bill (including Israel’s history of organ trafficking) here.
S.2000 U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021
  • The bill encourages ongoing partnership between Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the US.
  • Read about global condemnation of Israel’s human rights abuses here and here, read about US failure to join in that condemnation here.
S.Res.271 Affirming that the United States supports the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum and the Eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline.
  • The Forum includes Israel, Greece, and Cyprus.
  • Read about the background of the pipeline here and here.
A woman yells while holding a sign "#BDS,” referring to “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions,” in front of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles on May 14, 2018
Among the legislation being proposed in Congress so far this year is the “Combating BDS Act of 2021,” which would limit Americans’ free speech regarding Israel. (Pictured: a woman yells while holding a sign “#BDS,” referring to “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions,” in front of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles on May 14, 2018.) (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Miscellaneous legislation for Israel

H.R.5356 Anti-BDS Labeling Act
  • This bill seeks to block the Biden administration from reversing the Trump-era policy requiring goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank to be labeled as “Made in Israel.”
  • The bill fails to take into account the fact that, under international law, Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are not part of Israel.
  • Read more about the bill here; read about illegal Israeli settlements here.
S.Res.237 Approving of the sales of defense items to Israel notified to Congress on May 5, 2021; S.J.Res.19 & H.J.Res.49 Disapproving of the same sale
  • These resolutions are responses to an almost-unnoticed approval by the Biden administration for the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel. In days when Israel enjoyed bipartisan support, such an arms sale would sail through Congress; today, however, no-strings support is under scrutiny. All three pieces of legislation were introduced within a few days after Israel attacked Gaza, killing 260 Palestinian men, women, and children.
  • Read more about the arms sale here, and about the changing climate in Congress vis-a-vis Israel here and here.
S.2119 Combating BDS Act of 2021
  • “To provide for non-preemption of measures by State and local governments to divest from entities that engage in certain boycott, divestment, or sanctions activities targeting Israel or persons doing business in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories…Nothing in this Act shall be construed to infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
  • Read about the nonviolent Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement here and here, how anti-BDS laws do in fact infringe on First Amendment rights here and here, and why BDS is not antisemitic here.
S.1641 & H.R.3190 Israel Sovereignty Reassurance Act of 2021 (ISRA)
  • This legislation seeks to prohibit rescinding the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights – a region that Israel captured from Syria in 1967, and has illegally occupied ever since. During the 50+ years of occupation, most of the world has never recognized the region as Israeli.
  • Read about former president Trump’s ill-informed decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights here; read about mainstream media’s inaccurate coverage of the Golan Heights here.
S.1182 SECURE F–35 Exports Act of 2021; H.R.5302 U.S.-Israel Military Technology Cooperation Act
  • S.1182 requires specified assessments and certifications related to the sale of F-35 aircraft to countries in the Middle East to ensure that the sale, export, or transfer of these aircraft does not present a significant danger of compromising the critical military and technological military advantage of Israel or the U.S. Armed Forces (this in the context of the fact that Israel, a human rights abuser, sells military technology to other states that are human rights abusers, and refuses to share some technology with the US, even though we subsidized its development).
  • H.R.5302 directs the US Secretaries of Defense and State to provide a forum in which the US and Israel can work together in developing weapons technology.
  • Read about the costs (in lives and tax dollars) of American support for Israel’s military here and here; read about Israeli sales to human rights abusers here and here; read about Israel’s refusal to share technology with the US here; read about Israeli weaponry compared to Palestinian weaponry here.
H.R.4712 Desalination Development Act; H.R.3404 Furthering Underutilized Technologies and Unleashing Responsible Expenditures (FUTURE) for Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act
  • These bills seek to subsidize desalination project development and drought resilience in US states, with several requirements – one of which is that the state “demonstrably leverage the experience of international partners with considerable expertise in desalination, such as the State of Israel.”  
  • It is entirely possible that Israeli consultants or companies will be paid American taxpayer dollars through this program.
  • Read about the failure of Israel’s own desalination efforts here; about Israel’s withholding of water from Palestinians here and here; about the “normalization” of Israel here and here; and about global condemnation of Israel’s human rights abuses here and here.
H.Res.558 & S.Res.377 Urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization
  • These resolutions ask the EU, which already considers Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, to also include its political wing in the designation.  The legislation calls attention to Hezbollah’s violence against Israelis in the past and its destabilizing effect on the region – ignoring the immense damage that Israel has done to Lebanon, Hezbollah’s home base.
  • Not everyone agrees that Hezbollah is a terror group – read about it here; read about Israel’s devastating 2006 attack on Lebanon here, Israel’s 1982 invasion here, and its 1978 invasion here – also here.
H.R.3465 Iran China Accountability Act
  • This bill outlines alleged ties between Iran and China, and imposes certain requirements on Iran (vis-a-vis its relationships with China and Hamas) before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relating to Iran’s nuclear program may be renegotiated.
  • The bill includes the curious statement, “The United States Government unequivocally condemns the Hamas-incited terrorist attacks originating from Israeli land currently occupied by Hamas.” This may be a reference to the most radical Zionist belief that all of Mandatory Palestine is actually part of Israel.
  • Read about the alleged threat Iran poses to Israel, and Israel’s meddling in US-Iran relations here; read about Israel’s transfer of U.S. weaponry and technology to China here and here.
H.R.5344 Two-State Solution Act
  • “The purpose of this Act is to preserve conditions for, and improve the likelihood of a two-state solution that secures Israel’s future as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people, a viable, democratic Palestinian state, an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, and peaceful relations between the two states, and to direct the Department of State and other relevant agencies to take steps to accomplish these ends.”
  • While this description seems promising, leaders in Palestinian rights organizations remain unconvinced: the bill offers no mechanism for ensuring Palestinian rights, and fails to hold Israel responsible for its decades of human rights abuses; it also locks the US into two states as the only solution – in spite of the growing popularity in some circles of the one-democratic-state solution.
  • Read about the problems with the two-state solution, and the benefits of the one-democratic-state solution here.

Legislation acknowledging that both Palestinian and Israeli lives matter

S.Res.225H.Res.429 Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the value of Palestinian and Israeli lives and urging an immediate ceasefire and diplomatic efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • These resolutions are the only pieces of legislation that make an attempt to assign equal value to Palestinian and Israeli lives. 
  • The resolutions, introduced during the May attack by Israel on Gaza,  urge an immediate cease-fire and support diplomatic efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, uphold international law, and protect human rights. 
  • Read about the United States’ complicity in Israel’s atrocities here, and President Biden’s pandering to Israel here.

Legislation seeking justice for Palestinians

H.R.2590 Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act
  • This is the only bill so far in the 2021-2022 Congress that specifically advocates for justice for the people of Palestine. The purpose of this bill is to promote and protect the human rights of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and ensure that United States taxpayer funds are not used by the Government of Israel to support the military detention of Palestinian children, the unlawful seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the West Bank, or further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law.
  • Read about the significance of this bill here; read about previous versions of the bill, and why such legislation is needed, here and here.

If it seems to you like our Congress is spending too much of its time – and too many of our tax dollars – on Israel, please contact them and tell them so.

Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. She also blogs occasionally at Palestine Home.


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