By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT IN WASHINGTON
The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation labeling certain Middle East media outlets, including the Hizbullah-run Al-Manar, terrorist entities.
By a vote of 395-3 on Tuesday, the House approved a bill that would also require the US president to file an annual report to Congress on anti-American incitement to violence in Middle East media.
The legislation, sponsored by Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida), Joseph Crowley (D-New York) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), also singled out Hamas's Al-Aksa TV and Al-Rafidayn TV as candidates for becoming Specially Designated Global Terrorists should the bill become law. Any such satellite carrier would accordingly be sanctioned under the measure.
For that to happen, though, the Senate must pass its own version, and it must then be signed by the president.
Still, Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies hailed the House move as an important step in countering the influence of terror groups' media presence.
"We applaud the US House of Representatives for recognizing the danger that terrorist-owned and -operated media poses and for taking steps to limit the transmission of broadcasts that incite violence," he said. "Free speech protections should not cover the role of these media outlets as operational weapons."
Also Tuesday, both chambers took another step closer to approving aid for Israel, as the funding was maintained in a compromise version of the foreign operations bill being considered by the two chambers and likely to move on to the president's desk shortly.
The bill, as expected, provides $2.22 billion in aid, which represents the total $2.775 billion slated for the year when combined with the $555 million passed earlier in the year.
In a less expected congressional move, on Wednesday, Tablet magazine posted a new Hanukka song composed by Republican Utah Senator - and devout Mormon - Orrin Hatch.
The historically minded composition, put to a klezmer-influenced melody by Jewish musician Madeline Stone, was performed by Syrian singer Rasheeda Azar in the video on the Tablet site, complete with backup vocals from Hatch himself.
"A small band of people led the way/ through the darkest night they prayed/ seeking religious freedom/ did more than just survive," he wrote. "They defeated a mighty empire/ free to believe/ just the way they wanted to/ it made history."
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