Who's The Client State Here?
By Paula Gordon
August 18, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" -
22 Democratic and 36 Republican members of
Congress spent a full week of the August recess in Israel rather
than among the constituents they were elected to serve. Their
junkets are sponsored by neo-cons and other hawks, Israeli and
American, who are intent on killing a hard-won deal to keep Iran
from getting nuclear weapons. Do these Congresspeople think that we
won't notice simply because it's August?
Why aren't these Representatives at home listening
to the real needs of Americans, needs which will not be served by
American involvement in another disastrous Middle East war? They
appear not to care that they were elected to serve America's best
interests, which are not those of Israel's
unfailingly belligerent Netanyahu nor of America's homegrown war
profiteers and chicken hawks.
These particular (bi-annual)
junkets are not the "ordinary" kind -- "one taken by an official
at public expense." These are the much less savory type of junket --
"one taken by a person who is the guest of a business or agency
seeking favor or patronage."
This year's jaunt is particularly egregious. It is a blatant effort
to influence (or purchase) the votes of 58 United States
Representatives as Congress is about to have its say on the most
important peace initiative in the Middle East in decades.
Even more galling, America's taxpayers are footing
the bill. Predictably, the host is the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Registered lobbyists cannot fund such
trips and AIPAC is one such organization. Congress explicitly
forbids Members taking trips paid for by lobbyists.
So AIPAC skirts the restrictions (as do an
appalling laundry list of
others) by having its captive
501(c)(3) tax-exempt American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF)
act as "host". Like all 501(c)(3)s, AIEF is both tax-exempt and
contributions to it are tax deductible. So we are paying twice for
these trips (or three times if you count our annual
$3+ Billion foreign aid contribution to Israel). You and I are
underwriting the cost of a foreign government aggressively
intervening in the creation and execution of American foreign and
domestic policy. Who's the
client state here?
Israel's Netanyahu consistently has embraced force over diplomacy.
Witness how he relished destroying the Oslo accords. Maintaining
Israel as the Middle East's
sole nuclear armed
nation is the most obvious interpretation of his serial
intrusions into our domestic politics. AIPAC does what Netanyahu
tells it to do. For the past 6+ decades Congress and the Executive
Branch have done AIPAC's bidding. Who's the client state?
When the conservative
USAToday sees the common sense of the Iran deal -- and the utter
void of realistic alternatives beyond all-out war, well-founded
skepticism about these junkets stoke the cynicism on which
Deeply offensive as I find members of Congress
allowing themselves to be manipulated by AIPAC, I am heartened that
AIPAC is so dramatically over-reaching. Perhaps they see their
former strength ebbing away. It is bad etiquette for the puppeteer
to allow itself to be seen. The curtain may be lifting on the
We must not underestimate AIPAC and their cohort.
Mega-donors are spending big bucks to influence the fate of this
agreement with Iran. That money comes from 501 (c)(4) tax-exempt
sources that don't need to report from whence the money flows.
AIPAC's funding is, to be generous, opaque.
I am offended and infuriated by the behavior of
AIPAC, the Netanyahu government and American neo-cons (who never met
a war they didn't like so long as someone else fights it and pays
for it). These
new members of Congress may be junketeers, two-timers, clients
or naifs. Whichever it is, they are also wrong to publicly
compromise their presumed integrity.
When we're paying attention, the people of the United States
understand that war in these circumstances is a really bad idea. If
your Representative went missing (AWOL actually) this August, ask
him or her where they went and why, and how their absence forwarded
the interests of your community and your America.
We need to explain in terms that even these
misguided members of Congress can understand that their behavior is
inappropriate. We cannot allow them or us to get conned (again) into
a Middle East war... just because it's August.