Every two years, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) takes groups of newly elected members of Congress on a delegation to Israel to see a one-sided view of the political situation facing Israelis and Palestinians. These junkets, known by some as the Disneyland tour, help AIPAC secure ever-increasing amounts of unchecked U.S. financial and diplomatic support for Israel despite its ongoing war crimes against the Palestinian people.
Did you know that a full two-thirds of all foreign congressional trips are to Israel, mainly through AIPAC? AIPAC trips not only white-wash the occupation but they also violate US law. That’s why last month we filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics that AIPAC congressional trips to Israel are in violation of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA). But, in order to make sure that our complaint moves forward, we need one brave congress member to join in. Send a message to all the members of the progressive caucus asking them to require an investigation of AIPAC.
The HLOGA, enacted in 2007, bans any lobbyists and organizations employing lobbyists, from providing lawmakers with gifts of travel—exactly what AIPAC does—but AIPAC gets around this by using a loophole in the law which allows congressional travel through a 501(c)(3).
Between January 2008 and July 2019, 1,789 congressional trips to Israel were paid for through AIPAC’s 501(c)(3), the American Israel Education Fund (AEIF). The problem though—how AIPAC is violating both the spirit and letter of the law—is that there is zero separation between AIPAC and AEIF. AIEF and AIPAC are in the same building, AIEF employees are paid by AIPAC, not AIEF, and AIPAC staff (including lobbyists) join the congress members on the trips.
The way congressional ethics complaints work is that, when filed by an organization (like CODEPINK), the ethics committee can choose to take up the complaint or to ignore it. But, when a member of Congress files a complaint, it automatically triggers an investigation. Send a message to all the members of the progressive congressional caucus asking for one brave Congress members to hold AIPAC accountable for its devious exploitation of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.
AIPAC’s all-expenses-paid trips to Israel via AIEF were for decades a right-of-passage for new members of Congress. But, this year, we campaigned for freshmen Democrats to skip the trip. While in 2015 only three freshmen congresspeople skipped the trip, this year 31 freshmen Democrats declined to travel with AIPAC. AIPAC’s stranglehold on US foreign policy is finally waning and we need to take it to the next level by holding AIPAC accountable. Join us in finding one brave congress member to ensure an investigation of AIPAC.
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