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

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.


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

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

One-fifth of Congress takes a vacation to Israel

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

Robbing Peter to Pay Israel:

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

It’s Still Occupied Territory (by Philip Giraldi)

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

Does Your Congressperson Represent You — Or Israel?–_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:
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):

8 Responses to “The greatest elected body that money can buy (UPDATED)”

  • Patriot says:

    Just saw Congressman Garamendi on list before of those Congressional Reps who went to Israel courtesy of AIPAC! No wonder he responded to the latest C-SPAN ‘Washington Journal’ call in the way that he did (can hear his response at beginning of following youtube of it):

    Israel and 9/11

    — On Fri, 8/12/11, Alison Weir (of wrote:

    here’s a partial list of the 81 Congressional reps!:

    Mo Brooks R-5 AL
    Eric Cantor R-7 VA
    Russ Carnahan D-3 MO
    Steve Chabot R-1 OH (went last month)
    David Cicilline D-1 RI
    Yvette Clarke D-11 NY
    Mark Critz D- 12 PA
    Scott DesJarlais R- 4 TN
    Chuck Fleischman R-3 TN
    John Garamendi D-10 CA
    Kay Granger R-12 TX
    Michael Grimm NY-13
    Janice Hahn D-36 CA
    Jaime Herrera Buetler R-3 WA
    Mazie Hirono D- 2 HI
    Steny Hoyer D-5 MD
    Jesse Jr. Jackson D-2 IL
    Kevin McCarthy CA-22
    Gwen Moore D-4 WI
    Bill Owens D-23 NY
    Steven Palazzo R-4 MS
    Ed Perlmutter D-7 CO
    Tom Price R-6 GA
    Peter Roskam R-6 IL
    Loretta Sanchez D-47 CA
    David Schweikert R-5 AZ
    Adam Smith D-9 WA
    Steve Southerland R-2 FLA
    Betty Sutton D-13 OH
    Scott Tipton R-3 CO
    Allen West R-22 FL
    Frederica Wilson D-17 FL
    Kevin Yoder R-3 KS

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