Dozens of Congressmen Visit Israel Despite Troubles at Home

By AFP Staff

Once again demonstrating the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on the U.S. Congress, a bipartisan delegation of U.S. representatives visited Israel this week to meet with Israeli officials and leaders, a trip organized and funded by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC, arguably the most powerful and influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

The AIEF “funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and other political influentials” and provides grants for AIPAC educational and public relations programs. The trips to Israel are designed to influence the political leadership in the U.S. in a pro-Israel direction “through firsthand experiences in Israel, briefings by experts on Middle East affairs, and meetings with Israeli political elite,” according to the organization’s website.

Twenty-seven Republican and 14 Democrat House members met with top Israeli officials, visited various cities and toured Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based Holocaust research center and museum. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led the Republican delegation, while the Democrat delegation included New York Rep. Ted Deutch and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, among others.

In a meeting with Republican representatives earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked the members of Congress “for their strong support of Israel,” emphasizing how important it is that Israel maintain support from “both sides of the political map in the U.S.”

Democratic lawmakers met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who explained the challenges and threats Israel faces from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. The congress members “reiterated the strategic, bipartisan bond that Israel and the U.S. share.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with both delegations of U.S. lawmakers, explaining that “we in Israel are committed to working with all of our friends in Congress to strengthen the friendship and strategic partnership between our two nations in order to both meet shared challenges and take advantage of shared opportunities.”

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a Democratic delegation on a trip to Israel, where she pledged American financial support for Israel’s defense, including funding for the Iron Dome missile defense project, and reiterated America’s bipartisan support for Israel.