U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle co-sponsors bill that would limit defense funding to Israel
U.S. aid to IsraelDoyle sponsors bill that would withhold Israel defense funds

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle co-sponsors bill that would limit defense funding to Israel

The bill would withhold defense funding unless Israel improves its treatment of detained Palestinian children. Some say the bill is based on false information.

The Iron Dome system used to intercept rockets in Israel. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
The Iron Dome system used to intercept rockets in Israel. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-District 14) has signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation that would sanction Israel for its purported “military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

The legislation, introduced last November by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), has been endorsed by a slew of organizations that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Arab American Institute and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Also endorsing the legislation is the BDS-supporting Defense of Children International-Palestine, a Ramallah-based NGO. According to a June 8 report in the Jerusalem Post, many of DCI-P’s officials and board members are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist organization in the United States, European Union, Canada and Israel.

The bill seeks to put U.S. pressure on Israel by threatening to withhold defense funding unless Israel improves its treatment of Palestinian children that are detained for suspected criminal or terrorist activities. The resolution is silent as to Hamas’ treatment of Palestinian children and ignores the terrorist group’s pervasive use of children as human shields and other abusive tactics, maltreatment of children by the Palestinian Authority, or the issue of children violently engaging Israeli military forces, and used to attack civilians.

Betty McCollum at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., June 25, 2014. (Photo by Larry French)
Representatives from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Community Relations Council reached out to Doyle before he signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill in an effort to persuade him otherwise, but those attempts were unsuccessful.

“Last week we reached out to the congressman’s office and expressed significant concern but unfortunately we were unable to persuade him,” CRC director Josh Sayles said in an email.

The bill “is based on factually inaccurate information and has been endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace and several other anti-Israel NGOs, many of whom support the BDS movement,” Sayles explained. “Moreover, the legislation fails to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable for its mistreatment of Palestinian children, and like Israel, the P.A. also receives U.S. aid.

“It is atypical of Congressman Doyle to support a bill that promotes a false, one-sided narrative of the Middle East conflict and alienates the local Jewish community,” Sayles added. “We wish he had called us to seek our advice and are in the process of arranging a face-to-face meeting to educate him about the true intentions of this legislation.”

Apparently, the pro-BDS Jewish Voice for Peace-Pittsburgh had better luck than the Federation in persuading Doyle. On its Facebook page, JVP-Pittsburgh posted a video of protestors outside Doyle’s office with signs urging him to support HR 4391, with the caption “Kudos to Mike Doyle’s staff for handling this so well, nice to see.”

Doyle told the Chronicle in an email that he signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill because “America and our allies’ position on human rights should be clear: Children should never be ill-treated.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-District 14) signed on as a co-sponsor to HR 4391. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Doyle did not directly respond to a question as to whether his decision to sign onto the bill was influenced by JVP, but instead explained: “We all have an obligation to speak up when our government does something we believe to be wrong. That’s the only way citizens can get our country back on the right course; the same is true for our allies. We must hold ourselves and our closest allies to the same high standards, and we should prohibit the use of U.S. taxpayer money in violation of those standards at home and abroad.”

Doyle said he decided to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill after seeing “troubling reports about the treatment of Palestinian minors by the Israeli government.”

But the reports of the alleged mistreatment which are referenced in the bill are riddled with inaccuracies, according to NGO Monitor, which published an in-depth examination of the claims in HR 4391.

“The entirety of the proposed bill is premised on factually inaccurate claims from anti-Israel advocacy NGOs, including direct quotes from DCIP’s ‘No Way to Treat a Child’ 2016 report and website,” NGO Monitor reported. “The sections that reference reports from the U.S. State Department and UNICEF originate with these same NGOs (although McCollum’s office selectively quotes, hiding the origins).”

Palestinian terrorists often are under the age of 18, including a 17-year-old who last November deliberately ran over two Israeli civilians, then attempted to stab other Israelis, near the town of Efrat. The terrorist was then shot. Under the proposed legislation, such an event could trigger U.S. sanctions.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, released a statement urging McCollum and her co-sponsors to withdraw the bill as it “parallels a global effort to cast Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens from terrorists’ attacks as child abuse.”

The proposed legislation, Cooper continued, “would actually serve as enabler of the ongoing systematic child abuse of Palestinian children by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian youth do need a ‘Protection Act’ — but not from Israelis. They need protection from Hamas that uses them as human shields for terrorism and who send them to dig terror tunnels. They need protection from the brainwashing of the Palestinian Authority that teaches them to deny the rights and humanity of their Jewish neighbors.”

Doyle stressed that he remains “strongly committed to Israel’s safety and security, and it is my hope that this legislation clarifies our nation’s long-standing commitment to human rights and the treatment of children.” PJC

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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