September 2021

Tell Congress to pass H.R. 2590. Send a message to your lawmaker through the ELCA Action Center.

Israel’s new government is in place, and its prime minister, Naftali Bennett, visited President Biden in the White House late last month, attempting to reset Israeli-U.S. relations. Bennett has voiced his opposition to creating a Palestinian state and his support for settlement expansion in the West Bank, both of which violate international laws and conventions and conflict with Biden’s approach. Even so, Biden asserted the “unshakable” nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship and pledged that “the U.S. will always be there for Israel.” As Bennett and Biden seek to establish an amicable rapport, a just and lasting solution for Palestinians and Israelis seems as distant as ever, with neither leader seemingly intent on engaging the core issues.

Meanwhile, with the federal fiscal year coming to a close at the end of this month and next year’s federal budget due, this is an opportune time to consider allocations to advance foreign policy priorities. President Biden has made clear that, for him, human rights, equality and democracy are guiding principles in U.S. foreign policy, and he has demonstrated some willingness to act on those principles, holding up arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over their involvement in the Yemen civil war. Now is the time to hold Israel accountable to human rights standards and adopt H.R. 2590 that addresses Israeli violations as well.

In May, Rep. Betty McCollum introduced H.R. 2590, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, which would prohibit Israeli use of U.S. financial aid to detain, abuse or ill-treat Palestinian children in Israeli detention; to seize or destroy Palestinian homes and property; or to annex Palestinian land and territory, all of which violate international humanitarian law. Many of our Lutheran churches and agencies have offered support for this resolution, and to date it has 29 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

This fall, children in the Northern Hemisphere started a new school year. During the first week of school in Bethlehem, four Palestinian youth were arrested in a night raid, and Israel has withheld information about their detentions from their families — in violation of Article 9 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel and the United States are both signatories. Already in September, Israel has demolished at least three Palestinian homes and properties in Silwan and in the Bethlehem area. The settlement expansion favored by Prime Minister Bennett is a de facto annexation of Palestinian land, the sort Israel has undertaken for decades.

Israel must be held accountable, and the United States has the leverage to do so, given the presidential administration’s stated commitment to human rights, existing U.S. foreign assistance laws, and the aid that the United States sends to Israel.

Urge your congressional representative to support H.R. 2590, which prevents your taxes from being used to support violations of international human rights law.