Israel’s “powerful stranglehold on the American government” hasn’t lessened since Jim Traficant spoke those words in 2009. In the last month alone, AIPAC’s “charitable” sister organization, the American Israel Education Foundation, has funded more than 50 U.S. congress members’ trips to Israel for “educational seminars” where they’re wined, dined . . . and indoctrinated.
By John Friend
The late Jim Traficant, the populist and courageous former congressman from Ohio and a regular contributor to this newspaper, was a powerful critic of the death grip the pro-Israel lobby and other high-profile and well-funded pro-Israel organizations have over the American government, particularly America’s congressional representatives.
“I believe that Israel has a powerful stranglehold on the American government,” Traficant boldly declared in a 2009 interview with Greta Van Susteren following his release from prison on trumped-up corruption charges. “They control both members of the House . . . and Senate.”
Traficant’s frank assessment of the pro-Israel lobby’s control and influence over the United States Congress has been proven accurate once again, as it was recently reported that more than 50 congressional representatives of both major political parties visited Israel last month.
That amounts to just under one-eighth of the 435 congressmen and women currently in Congress. The trips to Israel were funded in part by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a charitable organization associated with AIPAC, America’s most prominent and influential pro-Israel political lobby. According to its official website, AIEF “funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and other political influentials” in order to “help educate political leaders and influentials about the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship through firsthand experiences in Israel, briefings by experts on Middle East affairs, and meetings with Israeli political elite.”
U.S. congressmen and women—Democrats and Republicans alike—regularly visit Israel to consult and network with their Israeli counterparts, a long-running tradition in American politics that is largely overlooked by the average American voter. A report published by the Jewish News Service highlighting the August trips to Israel noted the bipartisan nature of the trips, as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) led the groups during their time in the Zionist entity.
The American lawmakers met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were briefed on strategic threats in the region, and met with other Israeli political, security, military, and media officials and representatives during their August visit. LegiStorm, a top congressional watchdog group that provides analysis and intelligence to D.C. insiders and policymakers, reported that AIEF “spent nearly $490,000 for a week of travel for 12 freshman, five other Democratic members, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and three of Hoyer’s aides.”
Roughly one week later, “AIEF spent $668,000 to send 31 Republican members to an education seminar in Tel Aviv,” according to the report. The AIEF-funded trips to Israel are clearly paying off for the pro-Israel lobby, as support for Israel remains a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill. The Trump administration and virtually every other prominent political official also constantly voice their unwavering support for Israel. President Donald Trump recently met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and reaffirmed “the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel” and “the unwavering commitment of the United States to Israel’s security,” according to the official White House announcement highlighting the meeting.
The news comes as the United States opened its first permanent military base in Israel earlier this week. The base, located in southern Israel near the city of Beersheba, will “house dozens of U.S. troops and a missile defense system,” according to a report published by The Hill. The American taxpayer dishes out billions of dollars annually to Israel, most of which is related to maintaining Israel’s military advantage in the region.
John Friend is a writer who lives in California.