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Do Members of Congress Take Too Many Private Trips to Israel With AIPAC?

• https://original.antiwar.com, by Grant Smith

One of every three members of Congress boarding a jetliner on a privately-funded all-expense paid trip overseas has Israel as their final destination. Only one out of a hundred ever visits Palestinian territories as a final destination.

Analysis of Gift Travel Filings made to the US House of Representatives Office of the Clerk over the past half-decade reveals Israel is far and away their top foreign destination. House of Representatives members made nearly 1,400 trips to Israel, while total subsidized visits to foreign countries other than Israel were 2,500.

The vast majority of Israel trips are funded by the American Israel Education Foundation which raises tax-exempt contributions from pro-Israel donors and Jewish federations. They typically last eight days and cost $10,000. AEIF is a corporation created in 1988 by the domestically-registered lobbying group AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2009 66% of AEIF's board was comprised of AIPAC directors. Since AIEF is merely a lobbying funding conduit with no employees, whenever members of Congress travel to Israel, they are accompanied instead by staffers from AIPAC. In 2017 AIEF reported raising $60 million in revenue and expending $57 million. Another sole-purpose entity set up by AIPAC in 1984 is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which works to portray policies favored by the Israeli government as being in the American interest.

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