81 Members of US Congress, led by Steny
Hoyer, on Israeli Tour, Sponsored by AIPAC
81 US lawmakers in Israel on 'tour' sponsored by Zionist
Saturday August 13, 2011 21:55 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News
One-fifth of the US Congress is currently in Israel on a free trip
sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation, an affiliate of
the largest Zionist lobby in the US: the American Israel Public Affairs
Although accepting free trips from lobbyists is
illegal for Congress members under US anti-graft and corruption laws,
the trips to Israel have been granted a special exception by the
The Congress members, led by Representative Steny
Hoyer, will receive briefings from Israeli government officials, tour
historic religious sites and receive a guided tour around Israel by
Israeli tour guides intent on promoting Israeli policies in the region.
Critics of the trips argue that in addition to the issue of graft,
the tours are extremely one-sided and may even provide the members of
Congress with factually false information and history, thereby
misinforming their perception of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
There is no part of the tour that allows the members of Congress to
travel to the Palestinian side of the Israeli-constructed Wall
independently to meet with refugees and others living under Israeli
military occupation since 1967. They will, however, meet with the
US-supported Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office
ran out two years ago, but who has thus far refused to hold new
Medea Benjamin, of Code Pink for Peace, one of the
groups organizing against the Congressional trips to Israel, wrote,
"Going on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel is the moral equivalent of
using an Anglo-Boer travel company to visit apartheid-era South Africa."
She says the tour is extremely biased and one-sided, despite the
claim that the Congressmembers will visit leaders 'across the political
spectrum'. Benjamin adds, "They won’t spend time with grieving
Palestinians whose homes have been demolished to make way for more
Jewish-only housing. They won’t spend a few hours at a checkpoint to
witness how Palestinians are detained, abused and humiliated, or how
this 'thriving democracy' forbids Palestinians from driving on
Jewish-only roads. They won’t go to Gaza, where 1.5 million people are
suffering under an unbearable siege, unable to travel freely, conduct
business transactions across borders or even rebuild their homes
destroyed by the Israeli invasion. "
Many Americans have argued
that the $3 billion in direct aid and $3 billion in indirect aid
provided to Israel each year by the US Congress would be better spent
reviving the declining US economy.
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