By email letter dated January 22, 2020, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro explained why she removed her co-sponsorship of H.R. 2407. This pending legislation introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum and currently co-sponsored by 23 additional Congresspersons prohibits U.S. funds granted to a foreign country from being used for the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of children. In part, because the bill focuses on Israel’s violations of Palestinian children, Representative DeLauro removed her co-sponsorship of the bill. DeLauro’s reasoning lacks moral courage.
As referenced in H.R. 2407, numerous organizations have documented Israel’s abuses of Palestinian children. These include Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem (an Israeli human rights organization), The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), The U.S. State Department, and Defense of Children International-Palestine. (go to www.congress.gov and search “H.R. 2407” to read the text). Representative DeLauro turns a deaf ear to this well-documented suffering.
Representative DeLauro incorrectly asserts that Section 7of this legislation expands the definition of a minor as it relates to Palestinian children. She is wrong. That Section provides that any Palestinian age 21 years or younger who provides documentation of military detention is eligible for treatment for the consequential physical, psychological or emotional health trauma suffered as a child. It does not modify the international standard that provides that a minor is under the age of 18.
Representative DeLauro demurs from H.R. 2407 because it does not mention child deaths in Yemen for which the U.S. supported ally Saudi Arabia is responsible. Likewise, she complains that child death and suffering in Afghanistan, a large recipient of U.S. aid in our nation’s misplaced endless war, are not mentioned in the bill. This reasoning sounds like an excuse to avoid offending AIPAC, rather than a voice of compassion. In this regard, H.R. 2407, in amending the Leahy law, applies its remedial child protection action to all foreign country recipients of U.S. funds – not just Israel. DeLauro’s result-oriented logic also ignores significant distinguishing factors such as congressional action last year aimed at ending military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s cruel war in Yemen while taking no action to condition aid to Israel.
Congress grants Israel 3.8 billion dollars in military aid each year. Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II, to date, more than 142.3 billion dollars. Requiring that grants of U.S. tax dollars cannot be used for the abuse of children, as H.R. 2407 does, would seem the least that Representative DeLauro can do. Please call Congress at 202-224-3121; ask for your Congressperson’s office and urge co-sponsorship of H.R. 2407.
John T. Fussell, Vice President
Tree of Life Educational Fund