Archive for August 12th, 2011

The greatest elected body that money can buy (UPDATED)

The greatest elected body that money can buy (UPDATED)

Posted By Stephen M. Walt Thursday, August 11, 2011 

http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/08/11/the_greatest_elected_body_that_money_can_buy

Just when you think your contempt for Congress could not get any higher, our elected representatives manage to do something to ratchet it up another notch. After congressional shenanigans helped spark a major market sell-off and sparked fears of a double-dip recession, you’d think every single one of them would be heading back to their districts to figure out what their constituents wanted and to try to explain how they were going to help make things better. Or maybe a few of them would even spend the recess taking a crash course in macroeconomics and public finance, so that they could start exercising their public duties more responsibly.

But what did 81 of them decide to do instead? You guessed it: they are off on junkets to Israel, paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, an AIPAC spinoff that has been funding such trips for years. That’s right: during the August recess nearly a fifth of the U.S. Congress will visit a single country whose entire population is less than that of New York City.  

Such behavior is especially disturbing in light of our current woes; even Greta Van Susteren of Fox News found it appalling (h/t Mondoweiss here and here). But it’s not really a new pattern: in recent decades about 10 percent of all Congressional trips overseas have been to Israel, even though it is only one of the nearly 200 countries in the world.

Why do Congresspersons do this, especially at a moment when it is obvious that they ought to be worrying about conditions here at home? Mostly because such junkets burnish a legislator’s ‘pro-Israel’ credentials and facilitate campaign fundraising. Such trips also expose these visitors to the policy preferences and basic worldview of Israel’s leaders, which is of course why AIEF pays for them.   

I suppose I ought to be grateful that AIPAC and its sister organizations continue to work overtime to prove me and my co-author right. But there are bigger issues at stake here, which is why I hope that every one of those eighty-plus Congressmen faces a lot of nasty questions from their constituents upon their return. 

 

And in a related story, the Israeli government has just announced a new round of settlement building in occupied East Jerusalem. (For apt commentary, see Matt Duss of the Center for American Progress here.) If you’ve been wondering why most people have lost faith in U.S. stewardship of the peace process and are turning to other strategies–such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or the push for a Palestinian state at the UN –well, I think you have your answer. And if “two states for two peoples” is never achieved and Israel ceases to be either a Jewish majority state or a true democracy, you’ll know exactly which misguided or feckless Americans helped bring that about.  

 

UPDATE:  American taxpayers will be pleased to know that Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) has reassured Israelis that financial challenges “will not have any adverse effect on America’s determination to meet its promise to Israel.”  Translation: we may be cutting Medicare and Social Security for U.S. citizens, but Israelis–whose country has the 27th highest per capita income in the world–will continue to get generous subsidies from Uncle Sucker.

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Stephen Walt co-wrote (with Dr. John Mearsheimer) ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’ book (http://www.israellobbybook.com) which was an expansion of their London Review of Books ‘The Israel Lobby’ (http://tinyurl.com/mearsheimer) article!:

 http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby

One-Fifth of U.S. House leaves for Israel amidst economic crisis

http://www.presstv.com/detail/193528.html

One-fifth of Congress takes a vacation to Israel

http://rt.com/usa/news/congress-aipac-israel-vacation/

CODEPINK calls for investigation into ‘AIPAC loophole’ for Israel junkets

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/08/codepink-calls-for-investigation-into-aipac-loophole-for-israel-junkets.html

Robbing Peter to Pay Israel:

http://tinyurl.com/robbingpetertopayisrael

Israel Lobby Dominates Congress, Media Covers it Up (by Alison Weir)

http://america-hijacked.com/2011/08/11/israel-lobby-dominates-congress-media-covers-it-up/

It’s Still Occupied Territory (by Philip Giraldi)

http://www.amconmag.com/blog/2011/08/08/its-still-occupied-territory/

http://tinyurl.com/Israellobbydominatescongress

81 U.S.Congressmen off to visit Israel?
Where in the World is YOUR U.S. Representative?!

http://blog.endtheoccupation.org/2011/08/where-in-world-is-your-representative.html

Does Your Congressperson Represent You — Or Israel?

http://www.alternet.org/world/151953/does_your_congressperson_represent_you_–_or_israel

AIPAC arranges for 81 Congressional members to visit Israel
 
 
Israel to build new houses in annexed East Jerusalem
 
 
Can illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the recently released ‘Miral’ film: http://tinyurl.com/miralfilm
 
What Motivated the 9/11 Hijackers? See testimony most didn’t!:
 
 
See Los Angeles Times article near beginning of following URL:
 
 
Even General David Petraeus (now head of the CIA) conveyed to the US Congress that support for Israel against the Palestinians is a threat to US troops in theater:
 
General Petraeus Leaked Emails about Israel (scroll down to the comments section):
 
 
Israel and 9/11 (General Petraeus mentioned): http://tinyurl.com/israeland911
 

Ron Paul censures US policy on Iran

Ron Paul censures US policy on Iran
 
 
 
Ron Paul sticks it to the neocon war agenda at the Iowa Straw Poll as Fox ‘Neocon News’ Channel cuts away to commercial:
 
 
 
All Of Ron Paul’s Questions & Answers at Iowa GOP Debate 8/11/11
 
http://www.dailypaul.com/173655/all-of-ron-pauls-iowa-fox-gop-debate-question-answers

 
Is Ron Paul the American Churchill:
 
 

Russian/Israeli oligarch is major funder of Europe’s Israel Lobby

Alison Weir (of http://ifamericansknew.org)  wrote:

 
A Russian-Israeli oligarch seems to be the main funder of Europe’s equivalent of AIPAC:

AIPAC’s European cousin evades scrutiny – funded by oligarch Machkevitch

http://www.israel-palestinenews.org/2011/08/aipacs-european-cousin-evades-scrutiny.html

Israel to build new houses in annexed East Jerusalem

Israel to build new houses in annexed East Jerusalem

http://rt.com/news/jerusalim-construction/

Building Tension: Israel’s new settlements step away from peace?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTAaW_pFlcM 

Israel authorizes further settlement units in East Jerusalem

http://www.presstv.com/detail/193524.html

New Israeli settlement plan criticized

http://www.presstv.com/detail/193653.html

 Mideast peacemakers concerned about Israeli settlement building

https://rt.com/news/line/2011-08-16/#id16433

­The Middle East diplomatic quartet of Russia, the US, EU and UN is concerned about Israel’s declared plans for further construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Interfax news agency reported the Russian Foreign Ministry as declaring. “The Quartet reaffirms that unilateral action by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community,” the Quartet announced in a statement on Tuesday.

U.S. ‘deeply concerned’ by Israel’s approval of East Jerusalem construction plans (but will do nothing) – Haaretz

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-deeply-concerned-by-israel-s-approval-of-east-jerusalem-construction-plans-1.377864

http://bit.ly/o4i0eP 

‘US lets Israel do whatever it wants’

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/194179.html 

Netanyahu: US easily manipulated 

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/07/201071834019513292.html 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21rg0grvYqE

James Morris speaks with General (Ret) James David about illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land: 

General (Ret) James David (mentioned on the cover of the third edition of former Congressman Paul Findley’s ‘They Dare to Speak Out’ book) mentioned the following illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem near the beginning of the above interview with James Morris who was guest hosting for USS Liberty survivor Phil Tourney’s ‘Your Voice Counts’ RBN radio program: 

James Morris speaks with General James David & Tom Murphy of RepresentativePress.org about  Israel & 911 while guest hosting for USS Liberty survivor Phil Tourney on his ‘Your Voice Counts’ RBN (http://republicbroadcasting.org) radio program:
 
http://www.investigateussliberty.info/index.php?special=morris 

http://tinyurl.com/jmguesthostsforPhilTourney

Illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land shown in the recently released ‘Miral’ film: http://tinyurl.com/miralfilm 

Israel stokes Lebanon conflict fears to distract from protests and Palestine 

 

Does Your Congressperson Represent You — Or Israel?

Does Your Congressperson Represent You — Or Israel?

http://www.alternet.org/world/151953/does_your_congressperson_represent_you_–_or_israel

Greatest elected body that money can buy (UPDATED)

http://america-hijacked.com/2011/08/12/the-greatest-elected-body-that-money-can-buy-updated/

One-Fifth of U.S. House leaves for Israel amidst economic crisis

http://www.presstv.com/detail/193528.html

One-fifth of Congress takes a vacation to Israel

http://rt.com/usa/news/congress-aipac-israel-vacation/

CODEPINK calls for investigation into ‘AIPAC loophole’ for Israel junkets

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/08/codepink-calls-for-investigation-into-aipac-loophole-for-israel-junkets.html

AIPAC arranges for 81 Congressional members to visit Israel
 

Robbing Peter to Pay Israel

Robbing Peter to Pay Israel

By Josh Ruebner, August 12, 2011

 

Jesse Jackson, Jr. shaking hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on a 2003 trip to Israel
Jesse Jackson, Jr. shaking hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on a 2003 trip to Israel

Nearly 20 percent of the constituents of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) live under the poverty line, and nearly 15 percent are unemployed. Jackson’s congressional district, covering parts of the south side of Chicago and its southern suburbs, has been hit harder than many others by the crises plaguing the economy. Many of his constituents are looking at even more cutbacks in social services, higher prices for food and fuel, and ever scarcer jobs.

During this August congressional recess, Rep. Jackson, Jr. should be at home, meeting with constituents and proposing to them how he will help them cope with their difficult circumstances. Instead, the politician is proudly gallivanting around Israel, in one of three separate congressional delegations heading there this month on all-expense-paid junkets organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a so-called charitable affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential of the myriad pro-Israel lobbying outfits.  

In total, 81 representatives, nearly one-fifth of the entire House, will participate in these jaunts, which, according to The Washington Post, include “a round-trip flight in business class for lawmakers and their spouses (that alone is worth about $8,000), fine hotels and meals, side trips, and transportation and guides.” 

Of course, these congressional delegations are not all fun and games. Members of Congress will be expected to sing for their lavish dinners by honoring President Bush’s 2007 pledge to provide the Israeli military with $30 billion of tax-payer-funded weapons between 2009 and 2018. So far, proposed increases in military aid to Israel have been spared from the budgetary chopping block by President Obama and a compliant Congress that treats Israeli militarism as more sacrosanct than medical care for seniors. This despite the fact that Israel misuses the funds, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians living under its illegal 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. 

According to aidtoisrael.org, constituents in Illinois’ 2nd congressional district will be asked to cough up an astonishing $53 million in federal taxes as their pound of flesh for the Israeli military during this 10-year period. With this same amount of money, each year the federal government instead could give 650 low-income families housing vouchers, or retrain nearly 900 unemployed workers for green jobs, or fund early reading programs for nearly 1,600 at-risk children, or provide primary health care to more than 43,000 uninsured people in Rep. Jackson’s congressional district.

Yali Amit, an Israeli-American constituent of Rep. Jackson, Jr. called his office to oppose his participation in the trip to Israel. He was told that Rep. Jackson, Jr. wants to learn what is happening there because of his position on the appropriations subcommittee that approves military aid to Israel. Amit retorted that “you can’t learn what goes on there on a paid trip of a propaganda arm of the Israeli government.”  And you certainly can’t learn about the devastating impact that these U.S. weapons have on unarmed Palestinian civilians, nearly 3,000 of whom were killed by the Israeli military over the last decade.    

The House Committee on Ethics should open an investigation to determine if it is even legal for Members of Congress to be participating in junkets organized by AIEF.  The guidelines of the committee are as bright and clear as the midday sun on a Tel Aviv beach in August. “The travel provisions of the gift rule severely limit the ability of Members and staff to accept travel from an entity that employs or retains a registered lobbyist or a registered agent of a foreign principal.” (Emphasis in original.)

Legistorm, which tracks congressional travel, explains that “even though AIPAC’s primary purpose is lobbying, its nonprofit arm [AIEF] appears to provide a loophole for sponsored travel.” However, this eureka loophole that AIPAC uses does not withstand scrutiny. According to the latest publicly available tax return of AIEF, the organization has no paid employees — an astounding feat in itself for an organization that raked in more than $26 million in 2009 and a mind-blowing accomplishment for an organization running three huge congressional delegations in one month.  

An examination of AIPAC’s latest publicly available tax return reveals the sleight of hand.  AIPAC reports that in 2009, it very generously contributed more than $3.2 million of employee salaries to cover the staff costs of AIEF.  In other words, a 501(c)(4) organization with registered lobbyists is paying for the staff of a 501(c)(3) organization to run congressional delegations that cannot be funded by an organization that employs registered lobbyists.  

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen who helped draft the new post-Abramoff federal lobbying and ethics reform legislation signed into law in 2007, agrees that something is rotten in state of AIPAC. According to Holman, “The House ethics rules do not provide an exemption for 501(c)(3)s that are controlled and directed by a lobbying entity to pay for travel junkets for members of Congress. When the ethics rules were written in 2007 as part of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA), an exemption for 501(c)(3)s was written into the Senate rules – which I called the ‘AIPAC’ loophole – but the House under Speaker Pelosi stuck to strict travel rules for its members and declined to poke a comparable loophole into its ethics rules.

“Even if there were such a loophole in House rules,” Holman continues, “which there isn’t, it appears that the 501(c)(3) wing of AIPAC is little more than a front group designed to extend its lobbying activities beyond Capitol Hill. From 2000 to 2006, lobbyist Richard Kessler similarly attempted to evade the ethics rule prohibiting lobbyist- sponsored travel junkets by setting up a 501(c)(3) that he directly controlled to pay for the trips. HLOGA was passed in 2007 to end these types of evasions.”

Constituents should be irate that members of Congress accept fancy trips from AIPAC-affiliates and contributions from AIPAC-inspired political action committee (PACs) that result in the United States prioritizing weapons to Israel above our basic economic rights.  And the Committee on Ethics must investigate AIPAC’s skirting of travel regulations and shut down these trips that it has until now allowed.  

———————
Josh Ruebner
National Advocacy Director
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
202-332-0994

Join us for our 10th Annual National Organizers’ Conference in Washington, DC, September 16-19!  Click here to learn more.


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One-Fifth of U.S. House leaves for Israel amidst economic crisis

http://www.presstv.com/detail/193528.html

One-fifth of Congress takes a vacation to Israel

http://rt.com/usa/news/congress-aipac-israel-vacation/

Greatest elected body that money can buy (UPDATED)

http://america-hijacked.com/2011/08/12/the-greatest-elected-body-that-money-can-buy-updated/

One-fifth of Congress takes a vacation to Israel

One-fifth of Congress takes a vacation to Israel

http://rt.com/usa/news/congress-aipac-israel-vacation/

One-Fifth of U.S. House leaves for Israel amidst economic crisis

http://www.presstv.com/detail/193528.html

Israel Lobby Dominates Congress, Media Covers it Up

http://america-hijacked.com/2011/08/11/israel-lobby-dominates-congress-media-covers-it-up/

Greatest elected body that money can buy (UPDATED)

http://america-hijacked.com/2011/08/12/the-greatest-elected-body-that-money-can-buy-updated/

81 U.S.Congressmen off to visit Israel?
Where in the World is YOUR U.S. Representative?!

http://blog.endtheoccupation.org/2011/08/where-in-world-is-your-representative.html

Does Your Congressperson Represent You — Or Israel?

http://www.alternet.org/world/151953/does_your_congressperson_represent_you_–_or_israel

It’s Still Occupied Territory (by Philip Giraldi)
 
AIPAC arranges for 81 Congressional members to visit Israel
 
 
What Motivated the 9/11 Hijackers? See testimony most didn’t!
 
 
Read Los Angeles Times article near top of following URL:
 
 
Even General David Petraeus (now head of the CIA) even conveyed to Congress that US support of Israel against the Palestinians is a threat to US troops:
 
General Petraeus Leaked Emails about Israel (scroll down to comments section as well):
 
 
Israel and 9/11 (General Petraeus mentioned as well): http://tinyurl.com/israeland911
 

“US military institutionalized torture”

“US military institutionalized torture”

http://rt.com/news/ramsfeld-torture-court-immunity/

Torture trial for Rumsfeld? ‘Abused’ US contractors file suit
 

All Of Ron Paul’s Questions & Answers at Iowa GOP Debate 8/11/11

Ron Paul clearly wins the debate last night!

 
 All Of Ron Paul’s Questions & Answers at Iowa GOP Debate 8/11/11
 
http://www.dailypaul.com/173655/all-of-ron-pauls-iowa-fox-gop-debate-question-answers
 
Breaking: Fox News ignores and pulls post debate poll that Ron Paul WINS
 
 
Ron Paul sticks it to the neocon war agenda at the Iowa Straw Poll as Fox ‘Neocon News’ Channel cuts away to commercial:

 
 
 
Ron Paul censures US policy on Iran
 
 
Is Ron Paul the American Churchill:
 
 
Ron Paul was right! 1998-2002 predictions