On September 4, 2019 a coalition of activists including representatives of Tree of Life Educational Fund, Jewish Voice for Peace, United Church of Christ Palestine/Israel network, and Teamsters Local 677, met with Congresswoman Jahana Hayes to urge her to cosponsor H.R. 2407, “The Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.” Numerous Human Rights organization have documented that between 500 to 700 Palestinian children are arrested, detained, mistreated, and sometimes tortured each year by Israeli military forces as part of the ongoing Israeli occupation of West Bank Palestine. The bill amends the Leahy Laws to provide that no U.S. aid to a foreign Country may be used for the arrest, detention and torture of children.
During the one-hour meeting, Congresswoman Hayes expressed support for the bill but claimed reluctance to co-sponsor the bill because she believed that it modifies the accepted definition of a child (18 years or younger) to one who is 21 years of age. The group explained that the bill does not alter the accepted definition of a child.
The reference to age 21 in HR 2407 is within Section 7, subpart (2)(B) of the bill. That reference deals with providing treatment and support for those who, as children, suffered psychological and emotional abuse by Israeli occupation forces. The bill recognizes that a child, someone 18 years of age or younger who was arrested, detained or tortured, for example at age 15, 16 or 17, may need treatment for such childhood abuse, up to the age of 21. PTSD does not cure itself when a child becomes an adult at age 19. The bill does not alter the definition of a child.
Congresswoman Hayes requested that a spokesperson for the group be in touch with her Legislative Director, Alex Ginis. Following the meeting, Tree of Life Educational Fund Vice President, John Fussell forwarded to Mr. Ginis information about HR 2407 including the above explanation correcting Congresswoman Hayes’s mischaracterization of the proposed legislation.
Alex Ginis, Congresswoman Hayes’ Legislative Director, will be meeting with the Congresswoman to review HR 2407 during the first week of October. We remain hopeful that Congresswoman Hayes will co-sponsor HR 2407. For more information about this effort go to www.tolef.org