Israel Lobby Dominates Congress,
Media Covers it Up

Alison Weir
CounterPunch & AntiWar.com
August 12, 2011

You might think that 20 percent of the American Congress going on all-expenses-paid, week-long junkets to a foreign country – paid for by a lobby for that country – would be newsworthy, especially when the top congressional leaders of both parties are leading the trips.

You would be wrong.

Eighty-one congressional representatives from all over the country, led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are traveling to Israel this month. Most are freshmen congressmen, and the group includes half of all the freshmen Republicans voted into office in 2010.

The week-long trips are being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which was created in 1990 as a supporting organization of AIPAC, America’s major pro-Israel lobbying organization, sharing the same building. AIEF, which is only one of numerous organizations pushing pro-Israel policies, has an annual budget of over $24 million, with an even larger endowment.

This is an extraordinary situation. lobby on behalf of a foreign country comes anywhere near controlling such wealth or taking so many of America’s elected representatives on a propaganda trip to its favorite country.

Not all those going on these trips are enthusiastic. The wife of one congressman who made a similar trip some years ago said that she and her husband had never been exposed to such pressure in all their lives. She said that at one point on their trip, her husband – a normally extremely tough man – was curled up in a fetal position.

A staff member of one representative participating in this month’s junkets said the representative had no choice. If the congressional rep didn’t go on the trip, the rep would be targeted by AIPAC, large quantities of money, including massive out-of-state money, would be raised for the opponent in the next election, and quite likely the representative would be defeated. The staffer said that the Israel Lobby is far too powerful to ignore and that American voters have no knowledge of what’s going on.

It’s no surprise that voters are unaware that their representatives are being propagandized and pressured by a foreign lobby. Their news media almost never tells them.

US media out to lunch

The Associated Press, America’s number one news service, has decided not to report on a lobbying group taking 81 representatives to a foreign country in order to influence their votes.

Even though the trips are being reported by news media in Britain, Iran, India, Israel, Lebanon, and elsewhere, AP has decided to give the story a pass. When contacted about this, an AP editor in Washington, D.C., said AP knew about the trips and was “looking into it.”

Taking a similar tack, The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Boston Globe, Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC et al, failed to inform Americans about the trips. The The Washington Post, after the story was posted throughout the blogosphere, finally covered it belatedly on Page 13. The CBS website had a story on the situation, but CBS News made no mention of the junkets on-air.

The only AP stories on the subject are scattered local stories about individual representatives. For example, AP’s Chicago bureau reported that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is taking part, without reporting that he was one of 81 representatives accepting these all-expenses-paid junkets and that his trip was being paid for by the pro-Israel lobby.

A few other American media outlets reported the story in interestingly diverse ways:

Washington’s Politico covered it twice.
The Atlantic’s website reported on people who were “kvetching” about the one-sided nature of the junkets, pointing out that some of the reps were also going to meet with some Palestinian leaders, without telling how many (no one will say) and for how long (apparently for a few hours of the week-long trip).
Los Angeles’ Jewish Journal was remarkably forthright, reporting that “the congressional reps will be getting the dog and pony show,”
Commentary gloated at the “astonishing” number of representatives going on the trip, noting that “Congress is the backstop that gives Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the ability to say ‘no’” to the president of the United States.

While Commentary claims that the willingness of congressional representatives to go on all-expenses-paid trips by one of the country’s most powerful lobbies “is a good reflection of American public opinion on the Middle East,” this is actually far from accurate.

Surveys find that an extraordinarily strong majority of Americans – typically between two-thirds to three-quarters – do not wish the U.S. to take sides on Israel-Palestine. Such widespread desire for non-intervention is particularly noteworthy given that U.S. news sources across the political spectrum are consistently highly Israel-centric in their reporting.

It is quite likely that such voters would be unhappy to learn that a foreign lobby has such power over their elected representatives, leading them to give the favored nation, one of the smallest and wealthiest countries on the planet, over $8 million per day of American tax money when the U.S. is in the middle of a financial crisis.

Perhaps that’s why AP and the others don’t tell them.

New Book on the Israel Lobby


Alison Weir's new book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.


Buy the book on Amazon.com.


Visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

Pressure & Censorship Articles

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AP Reveals Israeli Censorship,
Says It Will Abide By Rules

Mondoweiss, Chapter One
Blogging about Israel and Jewish identity raises Observer hackles

Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Shot By Israeli Troops at Non-Violent Protest – Why Isn’t This News?

The New York Times Marginalizes Palestinian Women and Palestinian Rights

More on Pressure & Censorship

Media Report Cards

Deadly Distortion: Associated Press
Jan. 2004 - Dec. 2004

Off the Charts: ABC, CBS, & NBC
Sep. 2000 - Sep. 2001
Jan. 2004 - Dec. 2004

Off the Charts: New York Times
Sep. 2000 - Sep. 2001
Jan. 2004 - Dec. 2004

SF Chronicle (CA) Report Card
Sep. 2000 - Mar. 2001

San Jose Mercury News (CA) Report Card
Oct. 2002 - Mar. 2003

San Jose Mercury News (CA) Report Card
Apr. - Sep. 2002

New London Day (CT) Report Card
Mar. - Jun. 2003

Resources

Short Movie: AP Erased Footage of Palestinian Boy Being Shot – Watch Online!

AUPHR Report – Accuracy in Oregonian Coverage of the Palestine / Israel Conflict

FAIR Report – The Illusion of Balance

Book – Bad News from Israel

Leaked Document: Israeli Communications Priorities 2003

Related Organizations

PM Watch

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

American Hummus


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