[House Hearing, 114 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
THREATS TO THE JEWISH STATE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, NONPROLIFERATION, AND TRADE
THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FOURTEENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 19, 2016
Serial No. 114-156
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida BRAD SHERMAN, California
DANA ROHRABACHER, California GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TED POE, Texas BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
MATT SALMON, Arizona KAREN BASS, California
DARRELL E. ISSA, California WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
MO BROOKS, Alabama AMI BERA, California
PAUL COOK, California ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas GRACE MENG, New York
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
RON DeSANTIS, Florida TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
TED S. YOHO, Florida ROBIN L. KELLY, Illinois
CURT CLAWSON, Florida BRENDAN F. BOYLE, Pennsylvania
SCOTT DesJARLAIS, Tennessee
REID J. RIBBLE, Wisconsin
DAVID A. TROTT, Michigan
LEE M. ZELDIN, New York
DANIEL DONOVAN, New York
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
TED POE, Texas, Chairman
JOE WILSON, South Carolina WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
DARRELL E. ISSA, California BRAD SHERMAN, California
PAUL COOK, California BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
REID J. RIBBLE, Wisconsin ROBIN L. KELLY, Illinois
LEE M. ZELDIN, New York
Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
DARRELL E. ISSA, California BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
RON DeSANTIS, Florida ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina GRACE MENG, New York
TED S. YOHO, Florida LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
CURT CLAWSON, Florida BRENDAN F. BOYLE, Pennsylvania
DAVID A. TROTT, Michigan
LEE M. ZELDIN, New York
C O N T E N T S
Michael Rubin, Ph.D., resident scholar, American Enterprise
Jonathan Schanzer, Ph.D., vice president for research, Foundation
for Defense of Democracies..................................... 20
Mr. David Makovsky, Ziegler distinguished fellow, Irwin Levy
Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, The
Washington Institute for Near East Policy...................... 35
Tamara Cofman Wittes, Ph.D., director, Center for Middle East
Policy, Brookings Institution.................................. 43
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Michael Rubin, Ph.D.: Prepared statement......................... 13
Jonathan Schanzer, Ph.D.: Prepared statement..................... 22
Mr. David Makovsky: Prepared statement........................... 37
Tamara Cofman Wittes, Ph.D.: Prepared statement.................. 46
Hearing notice................................................... 64
Hearing minutes.................................................. 65
The Honorable Gerald E. Connolly, a Representative in Congress
from the Commonwealth of Virginia: Prepared statement.......... 66
ISRAEL IMPERILED: THREATS TO THE JEWISH STATE
TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1 o'clock
p.m., in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Ted Poe
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Poe. Subcommittees will come to order. Without
objection, all members may have 5 days to submit statements,
questions and extraneous materials for the record subject to
the length limitation in the rules.
At this time, I will recognize myself for an opening
statement. If someone would grab the back door, I would
appreciate it. Thank you.
The state of Israel has always been surrounded by threats
since its existence--threats by nations and terror groups that
hate Israel because it is a Jewish state.
The goal of these haters has been to eliminate the state of
Israel, an aggression started as soon as Israel became an
established state. Arab armies amassed on its borders to
destroy it. But yet, Israel has continued to exist in the face
of suicide bombers and terrorist onslaughts like no country in
Most recently, 16 people in a bus were wounded yesterday in
a bus bombing in Jerusalem, reminiscent of the wave of
Palestinian suicide bombings that claimed so many lives a
In recent years, the threats to Israel have increased and
become even more dangerous. The volatile situation in Syria and
its transformation into a full blown terrorist haven directly
threatens Israel's security.
Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, has at times
literally straddled the Syrian-Israeli border. ISIS, which is
even more brutal than al-Qaeda, controls large parts of Syria.
Lebanese Hezbollah is heavily involved in the fighting in
Syria, securing its valuable arms transfer corridor from its
sponsors of no other than Iran.
Iran has transferred game-changing weapons systems into
Lebanon to arm this terrorist proxy including anti-ship cruise
missiles and air defense systems and precision-guided surface-
Hezbollah already has an estimated 150,000 rockets and
missiles in its stockpile. That's enough to rain down 1,500
rockets a day in Israel for over 2 months.
All of these weapons systems are aimed for Israel.
Hezbollah is amassing valuable tactical experience in Syria.
It's mastered the use of diverse weapons systems and working in
coordination with Iran and the Russians.
Meanwhile, there is Gaza. Israeli officials now believe
that Hamas has completely replenished its rocket supply that
Israel destroyed in 2014. Hamas is building a sophisticated
network of tunnels under the Gaza Strip for the purpose of
securing arms supply lines and using those tunnels to strike at
Yesterday, Israeli officials announced the discovery of a
Hamas tunnel running from Gaza into the Israeli territory fully
equipped with electricity, communication lines and a rail line.
All of these actions by all of these groups and states are
aggression against Israel. Israel tries to defend its
sovereignty the best it can.
There's also a new kind of terrorism. Since September,
Palestinian lone wolf terrorists have carried out hundreds of
attacks against civilians in Israel. These terrorists will do
anything to kill, stab, ram their vehicles into civilians and
they just shoot indiscriminately.
They are field directed by the hateful incitement of the
Palestinian Authority. Palestinian Authority President Abbas
proclaimed, ``We welcome every drop of blood spilled in
Jerusalem. This is pure blood--blood on its way to Allah.''
This latest wave of attacks has killed 34 people, injured
over 400. Among those killed were two Americans, one of which
is from my state of Texas, Taylor Force. He was an Eagle Scout,
a West Point grad, and he served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Aside from terrorism, Israel also faces a threat that also
seeks its ultimate destruction. In recent years, the global
boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement has led to an
onslaught of campaigns targeting Israel.
This is--this movement, obviously, doesn't like the
settlements in the West Bank. Settlements in the West Bank, in
my opinion, are an internal matter for Israel and it is nobody
else's business what a state decides on where people live and
don't live. Out-of-towners, including the BDS and our own State
Department, need to stay out of where people live in Israel. We
certainly wouldn't like someone telling us where people should
settle in the United States.
And then, of course, we have the nuclear Iran deal. The
deal makes it only a matter of time before the mullahs in
Tehran develop a nuclear weapon.
Given their anti-Semitic rhetoric, we all know what they
intend to with that bomb. The $100 billion signing bonus and
the financial boon expected with sanctions relief raise serious
concern about the world's number-one state sponsor of
terrorism. That's Iran.
They will funnel more and more cash to their terrorist
groups all over the world. Reports since the deal went into
effect indicate that both Iran significantly has increased its
financial support for both terrorist groups, Hezbollah and
In February, Iran announced that it would give $7,000 to
families of Palestinians who kill Israelis, an additional
$30,000 to every family whose home Israel demolished due to the
family's involvement in terrorism.
Since the nuclear deal was struck, Iran has launched three
ballistic missile tests. The most recent one launched missiles
marked with the words ``Israel must be wiped off the map.''
The deal will lift the international ban on Iran's
ballistic missiles in 8 years. It's no wonder why Israeli
leaders call the joint comprehensive plan of action a bad deal
for Israel's survival.
Despite these threats, our relationship with Israel has
become strained under current administration policies. We must
do more to repair this important relationship and protect our
friends and allies.
We must make it clear that all of these actions against
Israel are because it is a Jewish state. Israel and the United
States share common values. We must recognize that the threats
that confront Israel really affect the United States as well.
The same terrorist group that wants to destroy Israel first
wants to destroy the United States. The United States must show
that it is partnered with Israel in its self-defense, and
Israel, in the meantime, better keep its powder dry, and that
is just the way it is.
I will recognize the ranking member on the Terrorism
Subcommittee, Mr. Keating from Massachusetts.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Chairman Poe, and thank you for
conducting this hearing. I would also like to welcome and thank
Chair Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member Deutch and members of the
Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee for joining us today.
Lastly, I'd like to thank our panel for being here to
discuss the various threats to Israel. You're all experts in
your field and I look forward to hearing the nuances you bring
to this vital topic.
The United States and Israel have always had a special
relationship. The relationship is unlike any other and it is
founded on common values and shared interests and certainly all
of us keep the people that were injured just recently in the
bus bombing in our thoughts and prayers for their full
Our country has defended Israel's right to exist since the
very beginning--a stance we have demonstrated through will and
force. Historically, Israel is the top recipient of U.S.
military aid and administration after administration has worked
to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.
We have witnessed continued funding for the Iron Dome
defense system. We've doubled the stockpiles of emergency
military equipment for Israel and, first, you know, we've
approved the sale of bunker-busting bombs to Israel as well.
Additionally, we're in the process of creating a new
memorandum of understanding which could ultimately increase the
security assistance already provided to Israel.
This support is designed to deter and to mitigate threats
to one of our closest allies, and as I'm confident my
colleagues agree it's the role of the United States as a global
leader, an active member of the United Nations, and as a friend
of Israel to promote, encourage regional stability in the
Like many other countries in the region, Israel faces a
number of challenges to its security both internally and
Externally, the Islamic State is active in both countries
northern and southern boundaries, and Israel continues to face
a constant threat from Hezbollah.
Internally, violence between Israelis and Palestinians
highlights this systemic distrust between the two groups. The
prospects for renewed peace talks are low.
Going forward, it is imperative we remain an honest and
effective broker in assisting Israel in its security needs as
well as promoting our own foreign policy goals in the region.
This includes at times carefully examining Israel's actions to
ensure they remain in line and consistent with our own American
values and interests.
As I said at the beginning, there are nuances to these
topics and areas that need to be objectively examined. I hope
we can hear today about the various challenges Israel faces not
just from terrorist organizations but also economic pressures
through the BDS movement.
But most importantly, I would like to hear how the U.S. and
Israel can cooperate to solve these challenges, and I yield
back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Poe. I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts.
The Chair recognizes the chairman of the Middle East and
North Africa Subcommittee, Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Judge Poe, and I am so
glad that both of our subcommittees have called this hearing
jointly to discuss the many threats that Israel faces.
Unfortunately, as both of our speakers have pointed out,
this hearing is quite timely. Israel fell victim to a
disgusting terror attack as 21 people were injured in a bus
bombing in Jerusalem just yesterday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the
families and the people of Israel as they continue to seek
peace and security.
These so-called lone wolf attacks and knife-wielding
individuals are said to be more difficult to protect against
because there is no real organization or planning for it--just
folks who are being incited to conduct these types of vicious
It's the message they receive from the Palestinian
leadership and Abu Mazen and this is where the U.S. can do
more. We can have more of an impact because Israel clearly
knows how to best protect her citizens. But the Obama
administration should be using the leverage we have over the
Palestinian Authority to press it to stop the incitement and
work with Israel to promote peace.
However, the terrorist threats that Israel faces aren't
just limited to these bus bombings or knife attacks. I convened
a hearing of our subcommittee last month on the growing threat
that Hezbollah presents for Israel, and thanks to the Iran
nuclear deal the Obama administration negotiated, Hezbollah
stands to get even more financial and material support from
Even as Hezbollah fights in Syria, Iran has been
transferring advanced weapons and weapons systems to its
proxies through Syria and to Lebanon.
Estimates now place Hezbollah's missile and rocket
stockpiles in the area of 150,000. That is more than ten times
the amount when it indiscriminately rained down over 100
rockets a day for 32 days at northern Israel in the year 2006
and this number now includes more sophisticated missiles with
guidance systems, putting Israel at even greater risk.
Hamas remains a constant threat and in fact, as Judge Poe
mentioned, Israel recently just discovered the first Hamas
tunnel from Gaza that reaches into Israel since the 2014
And though Egypt may help destroy some of Hamas' tunnels,
much more assistance is needed in the fight in the Sinai
against terror groups there including ISIS and al-Qaeda
These terror groups are near Israel's borders in the Golan
Heights and in Syria and in Sinai and are trying to gain more
influence within the Palestinian territories as well.
If Iran is the number-one threat facing Israel--threat 1A
is Hezbollah, Hamas and all of the terror groups just on its
borders--then threat 1B has to be the ongoing efforts by Abu
Mazen and the Palestinian leadership to delegitimize and
isolate Israel on the international stage at the U.N. and other
similar efforts like a boycott, divest, and sanctions--BDS--
It is no secret that Abu Mazen has been pushing his scheme
for unilateral statehood at the U.N., trying to circumvent the
peace process and a direct negotiated settlement with the
This effort saw UNESCO admit the nonexistent state of
Palestine to its membership and then shortly after saw the U.N.
upgrade the Palestinian status to nonmember observer status.
Of course, we all know that UNESCO, the U.N. Human Rights
Council, and the U.N. in general have an anti-Israel agenda.
Just in the past few weeks, we saw the Human Rights Council
vote to establish a black list of companies that could be used
by those seeking to participate in BDS and which gives the
impression that the U.N. supports BDS.
UNESCO once again moved to remove any Jewish historical
ties to Jerusalem and we know that the Palestinians are working
to reintroduce resolutions at the U.N. Security Council that
would impose a two-state solution on Israel along with
artificial time lines for negotiations.
I have asked the administration on several occasions to
clarify its position on Israel at the U.N. Security Council but
we never get a straight answer, Mr. Chairman.
It should be simple. It has been longstanding U.S. policy
to veto any such resolution as we have in the past and as the
Palestinians are seeking to support--seeking support for now.
Yet, the administration will not reaffirm that policy.
This is worrisome and we should continue to press the
administration to do more to stand by Israel and make it clear
in no uncertain terms that we will veto any resolution that
imposes a solution upon Israel.
We need to also take a closer look at all of those behind
the BDS movement and work to counter these efforts. Thank you
so much, Mr. Chairman, for this joint hearing.
Mr. Poe. I thank the gentlelady.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida, Mr.
Deutch, for his opening statement--the ranking member of the
Mr. Connolly. Thank you very much. Thank you, Chairman Poe
and Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, for holding today's hearing, and
thank you to my fellow ranking member, Ranking Member Keating,
and thanks to all of you for your strong support of the U.S.-
I'd like to echo the sentiments of my colleagues in
expressing my deep sympathy for the individuals injured in the
bus bombing on Monday and to their families.
This atrocious attack is unacceptable and unfortunately is
emblematic of the constant threats that Israel faces. The
hearing today gives us the opportunity to assess the very
dangers facing Israel.
To fully understand these threats and their effects on the
U.S.-Israel relationship, we have to take a serious look at all
of the challenges Israel faces on a daily basis, both strategic
Our two governments are currently in negotiations over a
new 10-year memorandum of understanding that will serve as the
basis of our assistance relationship.
The United States has never wavered on its commitment to
ensuring Israel is able to defend herself against any and all
threats and a new MOU must reflect the current and future
security threats to Israel for both state and nonstate actors.
At any given time Israel faces the threat of rocket attacks
from every single corner of her territory, from Hezbollah
missiles shot from Lebanon, Syria to the north, Hamas rockets
from the south, ISIS-affiliated militants Sinai.
Hezbollah, a terrorist organization founded on the premise
of resistance to the Zionist regime and bankrolled by Iran, now
has an arsenal of over 150,000 rockets, many with advanced
Hezbollah's 6,000 to 8,000 mercenaries are fighting in the
Syrian conflict and have been given access to even more
advanced weaponry. Weapons flown from Iran to Hezbollah via
Syria are being placed in precarious locations close to
Israel's border, in the Golan Heights, for example.
And last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu publically
acknowledged that Israel has had to strike down dozens of these
kind of convoys in order to prevent Hezbollah from stockpiling
what he referred to as game-changing weapons on Israel's
Operating out of Gaza, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihad,
two more of Iran's beneficiaries, have carried out decades of
violent attacks on Israeli civilians. During the 50 days of
Operation Protective Edge in 2014, 4,564 rockets and mortars
were fired at Israel from Gaza. But thanks to the robust
cooperative missile defense programs between the United States
and Israel, Iron Dome was able to intercept over 700 rockets
that would have landed in populated areas.
Since September 2015, Israelis faced a new wave of
violence, this time in the form of what have been dubbed lone
wolf attacks. These deadly stabbings, shootings and car
rammings aren't coming from lone terrorists or those affiliated
with terror cells.
Instead, these attackers are using kitchen knives, axes and
their vehicles to target random Israeli citizens. These lone
wolf attacks have taken the lives of over 30 people including
American students Ezra Schwartz and Taylor Force.
These attacks are the result of, among others, the violent
incitement within Palestinian society and I was proud to join
Chairman Ros-Lehtinen in offering a resolution that passed the
House unanimously last fall condemning incitement within the
The entire world must condemn these indiscriminate attacks.
Of course, Iran continues to pose an existential threat to
Israel despite concluding the nuclear agreement. In an
outrageous display of defiance, Iran recently test fired a
ballistic missile emblazoned with the phrase ``Israel must be
wiped off the Earth'' in Hebrew.
Many of us, both supporters and opponents of the nuclear
deal, are deeply committed to ensuring that the funds gained
from sanctions relief do not go toward supporting terrorism
aimed at Israel or others in the region.
This includes funding and exporting weapons to terrorist
organizations. It includes the continued development of
ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, and
it includes attempts to stir up trouble in other countries in
the Middle East in an attempt to provoke instability across the
And there is nothing in the Iran nuclear deal--there is
nothing in the deal that prevents additional sanctions from
being imposed against Iran for those areas outside of the
nuclear deal including their support for terrorism, nor is
there anything in the nuclear deal that prevents states like my
own state of Florida from continuing to ensure that our state
pension money and all those funds do not contribute to Iran's
destabilizing activities in the region.
And not all the threats facing Israel are security related.
In the past year, the supporters of boycott, divestment and
sanctions--the economic warfare against Israel--disturbingly
gained traction as they positioned themselves as a means of
In reality, what they're doing is unjustly singling out and
demonizing one country--Israel. And I wish the voices of those
who support BDS spoke out against the dozens of tyrannical
regimes who violate the human rights of their people every day.
And while it's perfectly acceptable for people to criticize
government policies, it is unacceptable when that criticism is
intended to attack the legitimacy and the very existence of a
nation, and that is what the BDS movement does.
Unfortunately, those hurt most by BDS efforts often are
Palestinian workers whose jobs are put at risk by those who
seek to boycott Israel. We have to work toward the goal of a
two-state solution--two states living side by side in peace and
security with thriving economies--and the BDS movement only
pushes the prospects of peace further out of reach by unjustly
placing blame on one side instead of urging both sides to the
And finally, Mr. Chairman, while efforts--and Madam
Chairman--while efforts to delegitimize Israel in the
international community are nothing new, Israel and their
allies must continue to meet them with resolve.
The United Nations Human Rights Council continues to debate
and pass anti-Israel resolutions at every one of its meetings
while ignoring Syria, Iran, and the rest of the world's human
These efforts must be condemned and, further, any effort
that seeks to circumvent direct negotiations between Israel and
the Palestinians must be opposed. The only path to two states
for two peoples is through direct negotiations between the two
This should be encouraged by anyone who considers
themselves to be a friend of Israel and by anyone who claims to
want what's best for the Palestinian people.
We have to recognize U.S. and Israel stand together not
just because we share security concerns but because we share
the same values of democracy, equality, and freedom; and I look
forward to discussing the ways in which we can keep Israel
vibrant and strong, protect the security of our ally, and
foster an environment that is conducive to peace.
And I appreciate the time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Poe. Appreciate the comments by the gentleman from
The Chair will now recognize other members for a 1-minute
opening statement if they wish. I'm going to ask the members to
keep it to 1 minute or less so we can get our witnesses--have
them testify and try to do all of this before we have to break
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr.
Wilson, for 1 minute.
Mr. Wilson. Thank you, Chairman Ted Poe and Chairwoman
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for holding this important joint hearing
with distinguished witnesses.
As our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel faces some
of the greatest threats in its history. Most critically, the
bizarre Iran nuclear deal has provided the Iranian regime over
$100 billion--enabling them the further promote terrorism,
which enhances threats to Israel.
Even more dangerously, the deal provides for Iranian regime
to provide a path forward to producing nuclear weapons. This
fact, combined with Iran's testing of two ballistic missiles,
in March reveals a clear picture of damage that the President's
short-sighted deal could potentially have on American families.
To make matters worse, these two ballistic missiles
included the phrase, ``Israel must be wiped off the map,''
written in Hebrew as a blatant threat.
Aside from the threat of Iran, Israel has suffered from an
increase in lone wolf terrorist attacks. According to Israeli
intelligence, there have been more than 230 attacks in the last
7 months, killing 34 persons, injuring 400.
I look forward to the bipartisan cooperation that we have
already heard today, working with our colleagues. I yield back.
Mr. Poe. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia,
Mr. Connolly. The Chair recognizes Mr. Connolly if he wants to
give an opening statement--from Virginia.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I echo the concerns of my colleagues about the security of
Israel and the lack of balance at international institutions
including the United Nations when examining human rights
violations and policies that subjugate whole parts of a
I also think, candidly, that a threat to Israel is also
internal and we ought to be examining that as well as a friend
to Israel--the concern--the long-term concern of the
consequences of an endless occupation of the West Bank and the
demographic imperative of the growth of both an Arab and
These are our concerns to deep friends of Israel and
certainly we heard some of those echoed by the Vice President
of the United States last night.
In any event, I'm glad we're having a hearing and I hope we
look at both and I want to certainly associate myself with the
remarks of Mr. Deutch. At the end of the day, there could be no
substitute for the two parties sitting down and having direct
talks if we're ever going to have peace in this corner of the
I thank the chair.
Mr. Poe. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida,
Mr. DeSantis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for having
this hearing. I support Prime Minister Netanyahu's declaration
that the Golan Heights should not be given back to Syria. I
think that would attract terrorists. They'd be launching
attacks against the Jewish state incessantly.
We've seen the Iran deal has really hastened Iran's ascent
as the dominant Islamist power in the region. They are firing
missiles. They're exporting terrorism. They have a major cash
We're told that Israel needs to make all these concessions
for peace with the Palestinians but the Palestinians still
don't recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and
still incite terrorism and hatred against the Jewish people.
Our friends in Europe sometimes don't fare much better.
Many of those countries are moving in the direction of
boycotting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, and
they hold no other country to that same standard.
So I appreciate your holding this hearing. I think we have
to take these threats to Israel seriously and I look forward to
a new administration coming in and finally moving our Embassy
to Jerusalem where it belongs.
Thank you. I yield back.
Mr. Poe. I thank the gentleman.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Rhode Island, Mr.
Cicilline, for his 1-minute opening statement.
Mr. Cicilline. Thank you, Chairman Poe, Chairman Ros-
Lehtinen, Ranking Members Keating and Deutch for calling this
hearing on the threats to the Jewish state.
With the rise of violence within Israel and the growing
instability in the region at large this hearing is very timely.
I'd also like to thank our witnesses for being here today.
Like others, I'd like to express my horror and outrage at
yesterday's terrorist attack of Jerusalem that targeted
innocent men, women and children. My thoughts and prayers are
with the victims of this horrific attack and their families.
It is completely unacceptable that the Israeli people
continue to live under the constant threat of terrorist
violence. I know my colleague has joined me in strong support
of the people of Israel today.
We will do everything we can to help bring those
responsible to justice and provide whatever assistance is
necessary to combat the threat of terrorism. Israel, like every
nation, has the right to protect its people against cowardly
The fact that this violence has escalated over the past 2
years is especially troubling and the fact that the Palestinian
Authority has not taken a forceful stance against this
terrorism threatens the long-term stability of both the
Israelis and the Palestinians and threatens peace negotiations
Both sides must do all they can to foster an environment
for seeking peace, and the United States must continue to be
there to encourage both sides to seek peace and to ensure
This hearing will help us better understand all the threats
facing Israel in the rapidly changing and dangerous context of
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses and I thank
you, Mr. Chairman, and yield back.
Mr. Poe. The Chair recognizes Mr. Trott for his opening
Mr. Trott. I'd like to thank our respective committee
chairs and ranking members for holding this important hearing.
As has been mentioned several times already, Israel is
under constant threat from Iran and their proxies--a threat
that's intensified under the administration's repeated
I was an early and often outspoken critic of the nuclear
deal with Iran, and if you look at their behavior over the past
6 months it's pretty clear that my comments were correct, and I
continue to maintain you can't do a good deal with a bad guy.
Most recently, it was rumored that the administration was
looking to do an end around Congress and give Iran access to
the U.S. dollar--yet another concession.
In an effort to stop this misguided policy, I recently
introduced legislation that would block the Department of
Treasury from providing Iran access to the U.S. dollar. If the
administration is not willing to stand with Israel then it's
even more important to show the world that the House of
Thank you, and I yield back.
Mr. Poe. I thank the gentleman.
Now that we have all had our say, you will get your say but
not so quick. We are now in the middle of votes. We will return
after votes, and then we will hear from our witnesses.
Thank you for your patience. So the committees stand
adjourned until 10 minutes after votes are concluded.
Mr. Poe. The subcommittees will come to order.
Without objection, all of the witnesses' prepared
statements will be made part of the record. I ask that each
witness keep your presentation to no more than 5 minutes. When
the red light comes on that means stop talking.
I'll introduce each witness and then give them time for
opening statements. Dr. Michael Rubin is currently a resident
scholar at the American Enterprise Institute where he focuses
He formally served as a Pentagon official whose major
research areas were the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and
Dr. Jonathan Schanzer is the vice president and researcher
at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies where he focuses
on Palestinian politics, Iran, and Israeli affairs. He
previously served as terrorism finance analyst at the U.S.
Department of Treasury.
Mr. David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow with
the Irwin Levy Foundation Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic
Relationship at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
He recently served as a senior advisor on Secretary Kerry's
Middle East peace team.
Dr. Tamara Cofman Wittes is the director of the Center for
Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute. She previously
served as deputy assistant director of secretary of the state
for Near Eastern Affairs, coordinating U.S. policy on democracy
and human rights in the Middle East.
Dr. Rubin, we'll start with you.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL RUBIN, PH.D., RESIDENT SCHOLAR, AMERICAN
Mr. Rubin. Chairman Poe, Ranking Member Keating, Chairman
Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member Deutch, distinguished
representatives, it is an honor to speak before you today about
the growing threats Israel faces to its security.
I have detailed in my written testimony how Iran's Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps will benefit disproportionately from
Iran's reintegration into the world economy.
Because the IRGC cares far less about bolstering the
prosperity of Iranian citizenry versus resourcing its
ideological desire to undermine, delegitimize, and attack
Israel, Israel faces enhanced enemy capabilities on almost all
I do not want to repeat the threats described by my fellow
panelists in their written testimony. All these are relevant
and true. Rather, I would like to draw attention to two looming
problems that are not receiving adequate attention.
In recent years, Iran has developed a number of different
surveillance and attack drones. While its claims to have
reverse engineered a downed CIA drone are risible, U.S.
military pilots flying over the Persian Gulf regularly describe
seeing Iranian UAVs.
Iran has openly deployed its indigenous UAV technology into
Syria and Iraq and perhaps Lebanon as well. Iranian UAVs fly
over Syria's largest city in Aleppo and so could just as easily
fly over the Golan Heights, the Galilee, or into international
air paths over Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion International Airport, or
Israel's smaller regional airports.
That Iranian sources openly brag about their development to
both suicide drones and new satellite-guided drone navigation
capabilities augments concern.
Neither Iran nor its proxies need to be able to strike an
aircraft or an airport to be successful. Simply interfering
with civilian air traffic will likely augment Israel's
isolation as airlines suspend service into Tel Aviv.
Nor is the UAV threat the only one looming for Israel. With
the discovery of gas fields in eastern Mediterranean, Lebanese
authorities have asserted a claim to 300 square miles of
Therefore, even though the United Nations formally
certified Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon complete, the
dispute over Shebaa Farms notwithstanding, Lebanon has
resurrected a new claim that provides Hezbollah cover to pursue
its rearmament and terrorism.
Indeed, Hezbollah has bragged that it has been training
operatives in underwater sabotage. This not only suggests a new
terror capability that could be utilized against Israel but is
also a direct threat to many American engineers and oil workers
involved in the region.
As we consider the threats not only to Israel but the
United States and our moderate Arab allies as well, it is
essential to consider not only the enhancement of terrorist
missile threats Israel has long faced but also the new
platforms which will be used to attack the Jewish state.
Since Israel's enemies make no secret of their desire also
to target and defeat the United States, it is time to begin a
serious discussion about how to reformulate Israel's
qualitative military edge for the next generation.
I also want to just add one separate point with regard to
the demographic imperative and the demographic challenges which
We should not be distracted by notions of the demographic
imperative as oftentimes we are now. The Palestinian Statistics
Agency's statistics cannot be taken at face value.
They double count Jerusalem, they refuse to count
emigration, and if you compare multiple censes you notice that
the predications are off by several percentage points and are,
frankly, readjusted with magic numbers.
Bad data, even if diplomatically convenient, oftentimes
leads to bad policy, and with that, I conclude.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rubin follows:]
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Mr. Poe. Thank you, Dr. Rubin.
STATEMENT OF JONATHAN SCHANZER, PH.D., VICE PRESIDENT FOR
RESEARCH, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES
Mr. Schanzer. Mr. Chairman, Madam Chairman, on behalf of
the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, thank you for
inviting me to testify.
I was asked today to talk about the boycott, divestment,
and sanctions movement, also known as BDS. This campaign claims
to pursue justice for the Palestinians. In truth, many of these
groups seek to wage an economic war against Israel.
Members of the committee, I worked as a terrorism finance
analyst at the U.S. Treasury from 2004 to 2007. My job was to
help freeze the assets of terrorist financiers.
I am out of government now but I continue to monitor trends
in the field. FDD recently completed research that tracked
employees from organizations implicated by the Federal
Government for terrorism finance.
Our research yielded a troubling outcome in the case of
three U.S.-based organizations involving the financing of
Hamas--a designated terrorist group with a grisly track record
of suicide bombings and firing rockets at civilian populations
and whose charter openly calls for the annihilation of Israel.
The three now-defunct organizations are Holy Land
Foundation for Relief and Development, Kind Hearts for
Charitable Humanitarian Development, and the Islamic
Association for Palestine.
As it turns out, many individuals who previously worked for
or on behalf of these groups now work or fundraise for an
Illinois-based organization called American Muslims for
Palestine, otherwise known as AMP.
AMP is arguably the leading BDS organization in the U.S. It
is a key sponsor of the anti-Israel campus network known as
Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP.
AMP provides money, speakers, training, printed materials
and so-called apartheid walls to SJP activists. AMP even has a
campus coordinator who orchestrates the BDS activities of SJP
and other campus groups nationwide.
The overlap between AMP, Holy Land, Kind Hearts and the
Islamic Association for Palestine is striking. For example,
Salah Sarsour, a former fundraiser for the Holy Land
Foundation, is now an AMP board member and he has twice served
as AMP's national conference chairman.
There is also Jamal Said, who is director of the Mosque
Foundation, which prosecutors identified as the key funder for
the Holy Land Foundation. And as a reminder, a Federal court
found that Holy Land sent $12 million to Hamas over 10 years.
Today, the Mosque Foundation donates to AMP, and Mr. Said
has been a keynote speaker at AMP's annual fundraising dinner
for 3 years running.
Then there is Abdelbasset Hamayel, who is officially the
registered agent for AMP. He is occasionally identified as
AMP's director. Several sources point to Hamayel as the
Wisconsin and Illinois representative for Kind Hearts, a group
the Treasury called the progeny of the Holy Land Foundation.
Treasury blocked the assets of Kind Hearts and it was
Hamayel, I should note, was also the secretary general of
the Islamic Association for Palestinian, or IAP, a group found
civilly liable in a Federal court for financing Hamas, and
there are many other IAP-AMP connections.
For example, the former president of IAP, Rafeeq Jaber, is
one prominent AMP figure. He has also been listed as the tax
preparer for AMP's 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor since 2010. I am
referring here to Americans for Justice in Palestine
educational foundation, also known as AJP.
There is also Osama Abuirshaid, who ran IAP's newspaper. He
is currently the national coordinator and policy director for
AMP. Mr. Abuirshaid also runs a pro-Hamas newspaper in
Incidentally, we discovered that a major donor to AMP's
conferences, the Zakat Foundation, is run by Khalil Demir.
Demir signed the IRS 990 form for Benevolence International
Foundation, which Treasury shut down for funding al-Qaeda.
There is also an unregistered BDS group that works with AMP
whose leader was reportedly a fighter for the popular front for
the liberation of Palestine, also a designated terrorist group.
There is more and so please read my testimony for the full
picture. I should note here that our open source research did
not indicate that AMP or any of these individuals are currently
involved in illegal activity.
But I should also note that AMP, at their 2014 annual
conference, held a panel inviting guests to ``come navigate the
fine line between legal activism and material support for
It is also noteworthy that a recent photo from AMP suburban
Chicago headquarters features a poster with the phrase, ``No
Jew will live among them in Jerusalem.''
This sounds a lot like promoting Hamas' agenda here in the
United States, if you ask me.
In short, the BDS campaign may pose a threat to Israel but
the network I describe here is decidedly an American problem.
There appear to be flaws in the Federal and state oversight
of nonprofit and charities. In my written testimony, I suggest
ways to increase transparency.
Let me conclude with this. BDS activists are free to say
what they want, whether true or false. But tax-advantaged
organizations are obliged to be transparent. Americans have a
right to know who is leading the BDS campaign and so do the
students who may not be aware of AMP's leaders or their goals.
One again, thank you for inviting me to testify and I look
forward to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Schanzer follows:]
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Mr. Poe. Mr. Makovsky.
STATEMENT OF MR. DAVID MAKOVSKY, ZIEGLER DISTINGUISHED FELLOW,
IRWIN LEVY FAMILY PROGRAM ON THE U.S.-ISRAEL STRATEGIC
RELATIONSHIP, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY
Mr. Makovsky. Mr. Chairman, Madam Chairwoman, ranking
members, of course, thank you for the opportunity to speak
before these two distinguished subcommittees.
In keeping with the questions you asked us about
challenges, I would like to first focus on security in the
evolving threat environment.
Israel is largely encircled by nonstate actors today. They
have no problem to embed themselves in the heart of urban
areas, fire rockets into Israeli cities and in so doing,
challenge Israel to retaliate which leads to greater
In Lebanon, the dominant nonstate actor is Hezbollah,
which, as you have pointed out, is believed to have 150,000
rockets. Then there is Hamas in Gaza. While there is relative
quiet along this front, it's only a matter of time before a
fourth war begins in Gaza.
Needless to say, without U.S. military assistance writ
large and without Iron Dome specifically, Israel's security
predicament would be far worse.
Of course, beyond the challenge of its immediate neighbors
there is also Iran and its regional proxies. Israel may not
like the Iran deal, as we all know, but understands it must now
turn toward enhancing the U.S.-Israel bilateral security
relationship, as should the United States as well.
This rather sober assessment has been punctuated by
relative success in the Israel-Palestinian security cooperation
in the West Bank. Of course, we don't know who did this attack
yesterday on the bus. It has the markings of a homemade and not
organizational type, which would be consistent. But I would say
that Israeli officials say that the PA security cooperation
with Israel has been essential in reducing this fact--in
reducing the recent wave of violence.
Just last week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon held
a press conference and he said, ``The PA has worked tirelessly
recently to stop terror.''
In return, Israel's security services has served as an
important stabilizing role within the Israeli structure and
promoted further economic and security cooperation with the
Palestinians. However, it may still be too soon to pronounce
that the wave of stabbing is over, as there could be an upsurge
with the upcoming holiday season which begins in the next few
So what can the U.S. do to tackle these threats and seize
the opportunities? When it comes to Iran, the U.S. and Israel
need to strictly enforce Iranian compliance of the nuclear deal
and push back against malign Iranian behavior in the region.
The U.S. and Israel should form a joint committee which
would deal with the implementation of JCPOA, address the
potential violations, and maintain and strengthen nonnuclear
The U.S. and Israel should also swiftly conclude negations
for a 10-year MOU. Israel's deterrent power, as you know, is in
large part a reflection of how its adversaries view the
strength of its strategic relationship with Washington.
In a broad sense, Israel views the strength of the U.S.-
Israel relationship as a function of how the U.S. is perceived
in the region by friend and foe alike.
If the U.S. is viewed as the center of the pragmatic camp
in the Middle East, this will bolster the position of this
critical bilateral relationship beyond all its other obvious
On the Palestinian issue, there remain several challenges.
The U.S. has engaged in three noble efforts in 2000, 2007, 2014
to solve the entire conflict. For a variety of reasons these
efforts didn't succeed.
Under the current leadership, I don't see succeeding in the
near future. I'm rather skeptical about efforts to put forward
parameters at the U.N. Security Council, which would be
interpreted by both sides as an imposed solution and could
serve as a baseline for defiance rather than bringing the
Indeed, we need to find a way to maintain the viability of
a two-state outcome. Even if we can't implement a two-state
solution today, I have some ideas which I can discuss when we
have more time in the Q and A.
There are also moves the Palestinians could take to prove
their commitment to two states as well including jettisoning
its anti-normalization policy and stop incentivizing terror by
paying money to Palestinian prisoners and relatives of suicide
U.S. needs to sensitize our European allies to these issue.
Given the closeness between the Europeans and the Palestinians,
it would carry weight if the Europeans practiced the same tough
love they have urged the United States to administer when it
comes to Israel. But they don't seem to do it to our
The issue of boycott, divestment, and sanctions--BDS--is
important to me. I have visited over--made 121 campus visits,
mostly to discuss this issue. And if the BDS movement isn't
blunted and there is no movement on the ground toward peace, I
fear that the movement could metastasize beyond college
In conclusion, there are definite challenges. But there are
also opportunities amid the crises. The dynamism of the U.S.-
Israel relationship will be tested by how our two countries
work together to meet these new challenges and in so doing take
our relationship to the next level.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Makovsky follows:]
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Mr. Poe. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF TAMARA COFMAN WITTES, PH.D., DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR
MIDDLE EAST POLICY, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION
Ms. Wittes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Madam Chairman, Mr.
Keating and Mr. Deutch, members of the committee.
I appreciate the invitation to appear before you and I must
emphasize, as always, that I represent only myself before you
because the Brookings Institution does not take any positions
on policy issues.
On the afternoon following a day Israelis began with the
discovery of yet another Hamas tunnel from Gaza into Israel,
and that ended with the bombing of a bus, it seems like a very
apt and sobering opportunity to give you some thoughts on the
threats facing Israel from terrorism and from the impact of
I've had the chance to discuss these concerns with a range
of Israeli officials and experts in the last several months,
and I'll share my impressions with you.
Let me begin with Iran. When I appeared before you just
about a year ago, I said that whether or not there was a
nuclear deal, I thought we would see a more aggressive approach
by Iran in a host of arenas around the region, where the
upheaval has given them greater opportunities than before, and
indeed, that's what we've seen.
Iran, helped in Syria by Russia, has pushed forward
assertively to advance its influence and strengthen its allies
around the region. In my view, this escalation of Iran's
attempts at subversion was inevitable with or without a nuclear
Iran never lacked motivation for its assertions of power.
Iran's sanctions-induced economic hardship did not prevent the
country from spending billions supporting Assad and Hezbollah.
The fact is that the Arab uprisings of 2011, the civil wars
that emerged in their wake and the sectarian narratives
employed by Iran and its Arab adversaries have all given the
Islamic Republic unprecedented opportunity to expand its
activities and it has exploited these opportunities very
The main driver of instability and threat in the Middle
East today is the civil violence that we see in Syria, Yemen,
Libya and, increasingly, Iraq.
Ending those civil wars and the opportunities they create
for bad actors should be a top priority for the United States
and others concerned with regional stability.
The nuclear agreement with Iran is a concrete rollback of
Iranian capability and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot noted
in January that it abates for a period of time what had been
Israel's greatest and most urgent security threat, and this
gives the IDF important breathing space in which to focus on
building its capabilities to address other threats and
In Syria, the scenario that most concerns Israel is one in
which Assad remains in power in Damascus and dependent on Iran
for survival. Israeli officials also worry that continued chaos
in Syria could allow jihadi groups like Jabhat al-Nusra or the
Islamic State to launch attacks into Israel from the Golan.
But Israel's greatest concern is the impact of the Syrian
war on Hezbollah for three reasons. First: Hezbollah's
investment in saving Assad has altered the political equation
in Lebanon in ways that could destabilize that country and
motivate Hezbollah to try and win political points domestically
by attacking Israel.
Second: The prospect of an outcome from the Syrian war that
leaves Assad in power and Iran in effective control presages
further transfers of weapons and technology from Iran to
Hezbollah through Damascus. That is why the possibility of a
negotiated settlement leaving Assad in power is such a
concerning outcome for Israel.
Third: The Syrian war has given Hezbollah fighters
extensive experience in conventional warfare, increasing their
battle hardiness and capabilities in the event of another
conflict with Israel.
A few comments on Hamas and Gaza--while Hamas has rebuilt,
apparently, some of its tunnel and rocket capabilities since
the 2014 conflict, current events suggest that it's still more
interested right now in survival than in confrontation.
But should Hamas provoke another round with Israel, there's
no question that the IDF would face many of the same military
challenges that it faced in 2014.
Indeed, fighting terrorism in a heavily populated
environment is a long-term challenge for the IDF whether in
Gaza or, potentially, southern Lebanon or even, potentially,
the West Bank. So building up new tactics and new capabilities
against this challenge is a key task for Israel's military.
The situation in the West Bank is in many ways more
volatile. My colleague has addressed it. What I will say is
that the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian politics are not
immune from the governance challenges faced by other Arab
There's a wide and growing gap between the Palestinian
leadership and the public, particularly young people who see
little prospect for economic, diplomatic or political progress
in their current circumstances.
This points to the fact that the stalemate in the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict carries a continuing cost for both sides.
The status quo is deteriorating, not static, and reminds us
that a negotiated resolution of this conflict remains Israel's
best option for long-term security.
Finally, a word about ISIS in Sinai. The most recent
statistics from the Taqrir Institute recorded 74 attacks
against Egyptian targets in just the last quarter of 2015.
That's nearly one every day.
Egypt's counter terrorism campaign in Sinai has been of
limited impact. One Israeli source told me that the Egyptian
campaign was mostly good at making the sand jump.
The Obama administration, as you know, is redirecting U.S.
military assistance to Egypt away from long-term commitments to
major weapons systems toward a focus on effective counter
terror and border security. This is an effort that deserves the
robust support of Congress.
Changes in the region have shifted the nature of the
threats facing Israel, and from a broader perspective the
decline for now of traditional state-based threats offers two
opportunities for Israel--first, time and space to undertake
longer-term planning for the structure, size, and capabilities
of the IDF to meet the challenges ahead, and second, and
perhaps more importantly, to seize the moment to determine what
Israel wants in its future relationship with the Palestinians
and push forward with steps to achieve a two-state solution
that is in Israel's interest.
As the U.S. and Israel continue their discussions on a new
10-year MOU, it's important to evaluate the shift in Israel's
threat environment and help Israel prepare accordingly.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Cofman Wittes follows:]
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Mr. Poe. Thank you, Dr. Wittes. I will recognize myself for
These entities have been mentioned by the four of you all
that are hostile toward Israel--Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Nusra
Front, the Palestinians, ISIS and Iran, including the three
organizations that are defunct--the Holy Land Foundation, the
Kind Hearts--interesting name--Islamic Association for
All of these groups do not like Israel. Some of them have
publicly proclaimed ``Death to the Israelis.'' But they have
one thing in common--none of them like Israel.
What is one--what is the basis of that? Why are they hating
on Israel for so many years, if I can use the phrase my
grandkids use? One of you want to try to address that?
Mr. Rubin. If I may, very briefly.
Mr. Poe. Please.
Mr. Rubin. It's possible to think about terrorism and the
motivations for terrorism on a spectrum ranging from grievance
on one side to ideology on the other. Our State Department
across administrations tends to be addicted to the notion that
terrorism is motivated by grievance and that can be very
comforting because that means you can come up with some magic
formula of incentives to make that terrorism go away.
We need to recognize much more directly the ideological
basis of most terrorism that there is no magic formula, there
is no concession--that ultimately what you have to do is
delegitimize that ideology. We have done it before with the
Baader-Meinhof Gang. We can do it now.
Mr. Poe. Okay. Let's be a little more specific. You got
Iran testing ballistic missiles and they put on the side in
Hebrew ``Death to Jerusalem'' or ``Death to Israel.'' Is this a
religious phenomena philosophy that is uniting these
organizations or is it not? What is the basis of the
philosophy? Forget about the grievances. Center on the
philosophy. What is the philosophy they all have in common, if
they do have one in common?
Mr. Schanzer. Mr. Chairman, I think it's safe to say that
we're talking about militant Islam--radical Islam, whatever
you'd like to call it. I know it's not a very popular term
these days in Washington but it is a radical ideology that
empowers both this--what we call the Sunni and Shi'a sides of
You got the Islamic State. You've got the Islamic Republic.
Their hatred for Israel, their Islamist ideology is what--is
what really motivates the terrorism that they carry out.
This has been our battle since 9/11. We continue to battle
it. It's taken on different forms in this town. But I think
that the challenge still remains.
Mr. Poe. So if we recognize it as for what it is--radical
Islam opposed to Israel based on a philosophy--as opposed to a
grievance, it's more difficult to deal with. Would you agree or
Mr. Schanzer. Absolutely.
Mr. Poe. All right. The IRGC, do you think that that should
be labelled as a terrorist organization? Any of you think that
Mr. Makovsky. Yes, I absolutely do. Now, in Iran's both--in
both Iran's constitution and in the founding statute of the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, it defines the purpose of
both the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps as an export of revolution.
In 2008, in an internal Iranian debate this was defined
exclusively as hard power in terms of sabotaging other
countries basically with bombs and bullets.
Now, we oftentimes talk about the Iranian political
spectrum from hardliner to reformist. You will note that
American policy makers don't talk about the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps and the factual divisions therein in
the same way, number one, because we don't have adequate
intelligence on that, and number two, no matter what the
Iranian people might think it's ultimately the guys with the
guns that matter and the most ideologically pure members of
these units are the ones that have the capabilities to attack
Israel and the will to do so.
Mr. Poe. The groups the Holy Land Foundation, the Kind
Hearts, Islamic Association for Palestine--those were tax-
exempt organizations that are now defunct, and there's a new
organization in Chicago, the American Muslims for Palestine.
Are some of the folks that were working with those groups that
have been put out of business by the Treasury Department--have
they moved over to this new organization and still doing the
Mr. Schanzer. Mr. Chairman, we've identified in this
testimony that we've got three individuals from Holy Land that
have moved over to AMP.
Mr. Poe. Let me interrupt because I just got a few minutes
Is this a--this new organization is it a tax-exempt
organization as well?
Mr. Schanzer. So three from Holy Land, three from Islamic
Association for Palestine, one from Kind Hearts all now working
for AMP, which is pretty significant, we think, when we look at
the leadership. When you----
Mr. Poe. Are they raising money for any organization--
terrorist organizations or do you know?
Mr. Schanzer. Not that we know of. What we can tell you is
that AMP is a corporate nonprofit. It has a 501(c)(3) that is
its fiscal sponsor. So it raises tax deductible donations,
passes them through what's known as AJP, Americans for Justice
in Palestine. It passes through to AMP and then AMP then passes
it on to campus. It's quite a structure.
Mr. Poe. Thank you.
I yield to the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Keating,
the ranking member.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I was intrigued with Dr. Wittes' comments about Egypt and
advanced weaponry. But I want to take that on a different tack
if I can.
Last week, the Prime Minister--Prime Minister Netanyahu--
announced that Israel launched a number of strikes inside
Syria, targeting suspected arms transfers to Hezbollah
When I talked to the Prime Minister last year, he said--
it's not surprising that he did that because he said unless
something affects his borders he had no intention of doing
At the same time, Israel diplomatically reached out to
Russia and wanted assurances that their weaponry, since they
are departing the area without announcement, not fall into the
hands of Iranians or, particularly, Hezbollah.
So there's a concern there. How much of a threat is that,
is the weaponry falling into the hands of groups like
Hezbollah. Mr. Makovsky.
Mr. Makovsky. As far as I know, things like the SA-300, the
SA-400 remain under Russian command and control. The Russians
have not been sharing this weaponry with their--with the Syrian
Government or anything. They insist on operating it themselves.
But I think what the Prime Minister, by the way, told you I
think is accurate. I think that is--Israel has learned from
1982 it's very difficult to social engineer an Arab state, and
they are more humble about the limits of their use of force
than others may be about them and I think that they have
limited their engagement in the Syria conflict to defense.
You know, if you fire and hit Israel, Israel will hit back.
But if they also see advanced weaponry, and Netanyahu has now
said publicly these have been dozens of times that they've
detected advanced weaponry going from Hezbollah in Syria to
Hezbollah in Lebanon, they're going to hit them. But it's pure
defense at this point and I think they do not think they will
be decisive in any way, shape, or form given the myriad of
militias inside Syria and have taken in that sense a very low
profile and very limited objectives.
Mr. Keating. You also mentioned, though, at the same time,
I believe, that Israel may enter the battlefield. Will those be
instances where that weaponry is getting transferred? Is that
Mr. Makovsky. As far as I know, those has been--and I've
asked this to IDF and other security people when I was over
there and they have a very limited kind of objective, which is
advanced weaponry that's being transferred to Hezbollah in
Mr. Keating. I think that's a real concern to be watchful
from the U.S. standpoint. You know, the lone wolf attacks--
that's something that represent the greatest risk to us here in
the U.S. as well.
How much is that--could you comment on how social media is
being used in those areas and what Israel might be doing to try
and counter that, since it remains our greatest threat here at
home as well?
Mr. Makovsky. I'll just throw in--maybe my colleagues have
thoughts. I talked to the premier Palestinian poster, Khalil
Shikari--maybe known to some of you--based in Ramallah.
He told me 86 percent of Palestinian teenagers--probably no
different than in this country, I should say--get their news
from social media.
I see this as a huge issue, which is Arab social--
Palestinian social media. We know a lot of 15-year-olds refer
to their going on social media as--it might be the final
trigger for them in terms of doing their lone wolf attacks.
Of course, there are deeper reasons, I'm sure. But I think
it's very serious. I mean, it just--it's striking to me that
the start-up nation of Israel that knows during the Gaza war if
someone's on a fourth floor walk-up in Gaza and Israel has this
knock on the roof program, which is you're on the fourth floor
walk-up but Israel is going to tell you they're about to hit
this building--go a few blocks away.
First of all, I don't know too many armies that would give
such advance notice but Israel does it. But if they could find
the kid on the fourth floor walk-up and send him a text message
in Arabic during a war there's got to be a way to use this
start-up nation to reach more conciliatory messages on--in
I think this is a real challenge and I think you're very
correct in putting your finger on, I think, a key venue of this
issue--effort against stabbings, which is need to work on the
Arabic social media.
Mr. Keating. Do you see anything with BDS and networking
that surrounds that that could be also something of a threat to
Israel in terms of beyond just their divesture attempts but
other means of expanding that, that being a threat for itself?
I know in 16 states and localities there's already anti-BDS
legislation but how effective has it been to date in terms of
hurting Israel as well as do you see any way of collaboration
with that effort and incorporating social media? I've left you
1 second. I'm sorry. Anything you could add.
Mr. Makovsky. It should be said that BDS and with all these
campus resolutions not a single American university has
divested from Israel.
So sometimes we need to remember that as well, that it has
not yet happened. But it's a question of a certain mood that's
set, an effort to try to compare Israel to an old South Africa,
to invoke some of these old campus battles, and I think the
only way to compete with this----
I was just at Ohio State the night before a big BDS vote,
meeting with Ohio State student senators and my approach, and
people on this panel know me, is that the only way to, you
know--the important thing is to do practical co-existence and
there are a lot of organizations out there that does people to
I know there's a group here in Washington with an umbrella
of, like, 90 different people-to-people groups. There's a
need--students want to do practical co-existence.
I think you need to look for ways that bring campuses,
student groups together and do not rip the community apart over
something that is divisive, counter productive and just wrong.
And so I think we should be accentuating the positive
rather than focusing, I mean, on the negative. You should warn
against the negative but, you know, you should focus on things
that could be effective in building bridges of co-existence.
There are a lot of groups out there that are doing that
practical work and I think students that go on alternative
spring breaks and other sorts of activities to do this can do
it in this Israeli-Palestinian sector as well.
Mr. Keating. Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Poe. I thank the gentleman for his questions.
The Chair recognizes the gentlelady from Florida, the
chairman of the Middle East Subcommittee, for her comments,
questions and answers.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Judge Poe.
Last week, our Middle East Subcommittee had Assistant
Secretary Patterson and we asked her about the status of the
MOU negotiations. She said this administration might not secure
an agreement before the term is up and we're seeing reports
just today that the administration is about to approve sales of
fighter jets to Qatar and Kuwait which will, of course, worry
the Israelis, as this is set to erode its qualitative military
edge, and continued U.S. assistance to Israel is so critical to
ensuring that the Jewish state can protect herself against the
threats that we're talking about today, and I'm sure that many
of you would agree that this sends a troubling signal to Israel
and to those who seek to do her harm.
Those are the ones who really receive these signals and for
us to preclude the MOU and have a strong MOU that would send a
very strong message of support to Israel. So I hope that this
administration does that, and maybe we'll talk about it if we
But Dr. Schanzer, I wanted to give you an opportunity to
elaborate on the great research that you have done. You mention
in your testimony that Treasury has not made a domestic
designation of a charity for supporting terrorism since 2009.
And we have all of these terror threats in our homeland and
I find that surprising. You're looking into the financial
networks of some domestic entities that operate in support of
the BDS campaign, and I thank you for that.
What can you tell us about their donor networks and their
corporate structure and what does it--what does it say to you
about no new designations?
Do you think that Treasury has been successful in stopping
illegal fundraising in the U.S. and that's why there have been
no new designations?
Would you say that there seems to be a shift in U.S. policy
from this administration in recent years and that makes it more
difficult for our agencies to pursue domestic terrorism
financing. And I'd like to give you the remaining time.
Mr. Schanzer. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
On the question of Treasury designations, all I can tell
you is anecdotally when I speak to former Treasury colleagues
my understanding is that they don't look at these issues any
longer. This may be something that is linked to this
administration. It also could just be a shifting of the mission
So I think I would be careful to say that this is
politically motivated. My understanding is that the FBI should
and is still looking at domestic terror finance.
And so whenever we look at these illicit finance questions
I think there's probably a team of people who should be looking
at it. But I think it might be an interesting question to ask
the Treasury whether this is still their mission or not.
As for the corporate structure of the groups that I talked
about today, it's a very interesting structure in that there is
a 501(c)(3) which is transparent. That's the Americans for
Justice in Palestine.
They file 990s. They are the fiscal sponsor for this group
AMP, which I described in detail today. AMP is a corporate
nonprofit which it's my understanding that this is supposed to
be a temporary status for an organization on its way to being a
full 501(c)(3). They have not made that jump, and so I'm
curious as to why they have not done so. And as I mentioned,
AMP appears to be the organization that's giving a lot of the
assistance to Students for Justice in Palestine, the campus-
They're the ones who hand the apartheid walls and they
provide the speakers and printed material. They give a lot of
guidance. They have a campus coordinator that works with SJP.
So it's a very interesting corporate structure. I encourage you
to take a look into that.
And then as for donor network, I can tell you that we have
looked into it. I deliberately chose not to include it in our
discussion today. As you know, the environment for Islamic
charities has not been an easy one.
I think there are a lot of Muslim Americans out there who
are very scared of contributing to charities that may be
involved in terrorism. I didn't want to list them. I'm happy to
provide them to you offline.
But the bottom line here, from my perspective, is is that
when you look at an organization like AMP and they have
individuals who have previously worked for charities that have
either been designated by the U.S. Government, that they have
been dissolved by the U.S. Government or found civilly liable
in a Federal court, you would think that this would be
something that they disclosed to their donors and I am not sure
that they have done so. I think that that is a matter of
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. That they're mandated to do or should
they be mandated to do?
Mr. Schanzer. It's my understanding that there is no watch
list, so to speak, and I'm not suggesting that we have one. But
I do think that disclosure of that past activity would be
incredibly important to donors who are contributing to these
charities so that they know what they're getting into.
They know that they could be running into problems later on
down the line based on the past experiences of these
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much for such great
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Poe. The Chair recognizes the ranking member, Mr.
Deutch from Florida.
Mr. Connolly. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Wittes, you spoke about--you referenced the attacks
against Egypt in your testimony and it's clear that Israel
finds herself sharing many of the same security concerns as
many of the Arab states in the neighborhood.
Are there ways--and the idea comes up from time to time--
but are there tangible ways that these countries can work
together to counter mutual threats, both Israel with those
countries that--where there are peace agreements in place and
perhaps even those countries where there are shared interests
but not formal peace agreements?
Ms. Wittes. Absolutely, Congressman Deutch. I think that
there are two key avenues and we see some activity along both
these lines already underway.
The first is countering Iran and Iran's destabilizing
activities around the region. This is the interest that has
drawn Israel and a number of Arab states closer together over
the past year than I think they have ever been before, and it's
an interest that I think will be sustained into the future.
It's not a short-term problem.
So there is a lot of quiet conversation and information
sharing. What there is not is kind of overt cooperation along
these lines. But since a lot of this Iranian activity is below
the radar, that kind of information sharing can be absolutely
The second avenue is stabilizing key front line states and
those include states that have peace treaties with Israel, most
particularly Jordan but Egypt as well. We know, of course, the
Gulf States have been important supporters financially and
diplomatically and politically of both Jordan and Egypt and
that is absolutely crucial for both of those governments. I
think Israel continues to keep an eye on Jordanian stability.
And then additionally, there is the question of diplomatic
negotiations ending the civil war in Syria. Israel is not at
the table. It's not in the room. But many of the Sunni Arab
states are, and that's an additional opportunity for
Mr. Connolly. Thank you very much.
Mr. Makovsky, I want to return to your topic of tough love.
There are some who might suggest that the Vice President's
expression of overwhelming frustration with Israel might
constitute tough love from the United States. Do you agree?
Secondly, if that is so, what is the kind of tough love
that you would like to see by our European friends with respect
to the Palestinians and, frankly, the kind of tough love that
perhaps we should expect and administer her as well?
Mr. Makovsky. Thank you, Congressman.
I want to be clear. By the way, on the last point about
Ohio State, the BDS advocates lost the vote. So the anti-BDS
forces won, if I didn't make that clear.
When I spoke about tough love, I was not talking as an
advocate of it. I'm saying the same Europeans who call for
tough love of the U.S. toward Israel are not willing to
administer that when it comes to their own relations with the
Palestinians. That was the context of my remarks.
For example, when the President of the United States
delivered two speeches in May 2011 where he talked about
returning to the '67 borders plus swaps land exchanges, there
is no--there has not been an Obama speech equivalent out of
Brussels or London or Berlin or Paris saying, and you
Palestinians, when it comes to refugees you return to the state
of Palestine, not to Israel. That would be very important if
the Europeans would do that. Or if they would say that, you
know, that the aid to families of suicide bombers is
reprehensible or saying anti-normalization runs against the
very spirit of peace--we want you to encourage more people-to-
These are things the Europeans can do that would make the
difference, and whatever is not said publicly I am concerned
will not be heard on the Palestinian side. I think the
Europeans can--could say it but they've never been really
prodded to do so.
Mr. Connolly. Is there--is there an opportunity to prod--I
throw this out to Dr. Rubin and Dr. Schanzer--is there an
opportunity--wouldn't it be appropriate to prod the Europeans
to do exactly that now, even as we work under the Iran nuclear
deal to make it easier for them to develop additional business
Not that--not that they're linked but given the successes
that they're seeing under the nuclear deal the ability to make
further investment in Iran and the way in which the deal--
nuclear deal--encourages that, shouldn't we also be in a
position to remind them that at the same time the threats that
Iran poses in the region get in the way of peace, and also
standing in the way of peace are the kinds of things that Mr.
Makovsky just spoke about and it would be helpful for them to
say that clearly?
Mr. Schanzer. Congressman Deutch, I think there--that we
have some frank discussions that we need to be having with the
Europeans right now.
They're obviously very eager to reignite the financial
relationships with Iranian businesses. First of all, and I
think we've made this clear at FDD, that we are very concerned
about the United States facilitating those through dollar
We have said time and again that this is not a good idea to
allow Iran access to our financial system in any way despite
the European request to do so and we think that it should be--
we should continue to hold the line on that.
More broadly, I think the Europeans have not exactly played
the role that we've looked for on the Iran deal or with regard
to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Europeans right now
are mulling a resolution to pressure the Israelis through a
multilateral decision-making process for how to solve the
I can't think of anything that would be more detrimental to
Israel's long-term survivability than to have something akin to
the P5+1 make a decision on how Israel should cede territory in
the future to a state that is possibly not viable.
So I think these are the sorts of discussions that we need
to be having with the Europeans both about Iran transactions as
well as what they're doing at the U.N. Neither have been
Mr. Connolly. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Poe. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr.
Mr. Weber. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr.--is it Schanzer? Is that how you say that? Earlier in
your comments you said, I think, we've been battling with
radical Islam since 9/11. What do you think about the prior
attacks starting in '79, Yemen, the bombing of the Cole, the
U.S. Marine barracks and I can go--the prior--I mean, what
Mr. Schanzer. You're absolutely right, Congressman Weber. I
meant that we were--we've been battling over it in this country
the debate over what to call it since 9/11. But in fact----
Well, some of us haven't been.
Mr. Schanzer. Fair enough. But to your point, absolutely
we've been dealing with radical Islam from the Islamic Republic
Mr. Weber. Okay. Okay.
Mr. Schanzer [continuing]. The Muslim Brotherhood since the
Mr. Weber. I just want to make that point, and you can even
go back further than that.
But Mr. Makovsky--is that how you say that? You also said
that Israel learned, in your exchange with Bill Keating, in
1982 that they can't socially engineer an Arab state. Would you
Mr. Makovsky. What I meant is 1982 Israel thought that it
could decide who was going to be the next leader of Lebanon, a
guy by the name of Bachir Gemayel, and that whole experience
ended in calamity.
So I think they very--you know, in terms of their interest
they are very keen in terms of where they could succeed and
where they cannot succeed.
Mr. Weber. Okay. I just--I'm sorry, I just wasn't familiar
with that date. Didn't know what you were referring to. And
then you also said Israel knocks on a roof in the social media
You indicated that if they can find that 12-year-old kid on
the fourth floor they should be able to--but I would offer that
social media is a relatively new phenomenon in that--at that
level--Twitter and all that stuff the last, I don't know, 2 or
3 years--I'm dating myself--maybe longer than that. But some of
these kids get indoctrinated to hate Jews since the time
they're two or three or younger. Is that accurate?
Mr. Schanzer. Yes, that is accurate.
Mr. Weber. So how do you combat that?
Mr. Schanzer. That's why you--the focus on the Palestinian
incitement piece of this is important. I mentioned about, you
know, this idea of removing--fighting against--once the United
States law kicked in I think in 2014 saying that the U.S. will
not give money to entities that give money to relatives of
Some of this money was moved offline through the PLO as
opposed to the Palestinian Authority--the Palestinian
Liberation Organization, whose income is murky but Abbas is the
head of both.
And so there needs to be sure that the signalling is that
there's no money to suicide bombers and we're promoting
normalization between peoples. The signalling has got to come
from the top. I agree with--I think it was Congressman Ros-
Lehtinen on that--that there has to be clear signalling.
Now, Abbas has gone on Israeli television in the last
couple weeks and said that he's against these knives--these
stabbings and it's true that the PA--and this was reported in
Defense News--I happened to be sitting with a senior Israeli
security official who says it's true--quoting the head of
Palestinian intelligence saying that they have disrupted 200
They have confiscated knives from the school. They have
plainclothesman now at border crossings, you know, to
So there's a multi-pronged effort here that's needed.
There's no silver bullet.
Mr. Weber. Right. I get that. I just want to make that
point, then I want to move on.
I think--back to you, Dr. Schanzer, you also said that the
secretary--the Treasury no longer looks at designations for
those who are supporting terrorism--that Americans--some of the
Muslim are afraid to give to charities because they might--it
might be a terroristic charity and some of those charities are
You said something--are there no criminal sanctions in
place, laws that say if you give to a terrorist organization
contra U.S. laws that you are criminal--you can be charged with
Mr. Schanzer. No, sir. We do have an executive order. It's
Executive Order 13224. This was the authority that I worked
under at the Treasury when I was a terrorism finance analyst
and the distinction that I was drawing was that back when I was
at Treasury and before we had quite a track record of going
after domestic entities that were involved in financing
terrorism--so-called charities that were involved in that
Mr. Weber. But that's criminal, is it not?
Mr. Schanzer. Well, it's actually under a different order.
It's beyond criminal. I mean, it's considered--you know, it's a
Mr. Weber. And let me just note for the record the judge
laid out a whole bunch of organizations that were pretty much
anti-Israel but he left out the U.N. I just want to make that
Let me move on. Dr. Wittes--is that how you say that--you
said to stabilize the front line states that have peace
treaties with Israel. Who are they and rank them in order.
Ms. Wittes. Rank them in importance?
Mr. Weber. Yes, ma'am.
Ms. Wittes. I think the most important front line state for
Israel is Jordan. It is the bulwark for Israel against the
Islamist radicalism of ISIS and other groups to the east, and
for a long time it was Israel's land bulwark against an army
I think that the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty and the
Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty are strong. They are maintained
by both sides because they are in both sides----
Mr. Weber. Okay. I'm out of time, technically. Who are the
next ones? Just give me three or four of them.
Ms. Wittes. Well, the only treaties that Israel has with
its neighbors are with Jordan and Egypt.
Mr. Weber. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, thank you. I yield back.
Mr. Poe. I thank the gentleman.
I thank all of you all for being here. Without objection,
the map that was furnished to you and all the Members of
Congress be made a part of the record.
Dr. Schanzer, you made some comments about you would give
us information in a different setting. The good lady from
Florida made a comment about we will follow up in that because
we want that information as well, and Members of Congress may
have written questions they will submit to you. We would expect
them answered and returned to the Chair.
Thank you all for being here. The subcommittees are
[Whereupon, at 3:13 p.m., the hearing was concluded.]
A P P E N D I X
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