Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Majority Leader, is seen speaking during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, DC. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

CodePink Files Complaint Over AIPAC's 'Illegal Propaganda Trip' to Israel for Members of Congress

"These congresspeople are our public officials who are being taken by lobbyists to a foreign country for the purpose of increasing support for Israel—a country that already receives $3.8 billion a year of our tax dollars."

Julia Conley

Slamming a loophole in an anti-corruption law which has allowed the pro-Israel lobby to influence U.S. lawmakers, the grassroots social justice organization CodePink filed a complaint Thursday over the recent AIPAC-funded trip Democrats and Republicans in Congress took to Israel.

Forty-one Democratic lawmakers just returned from the country. Republicans are still in Israel on a trip sponsored by the American-Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), the non-profit organization created by the pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC.

According to CodePink, the trips violate the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA), the 2007 law enacted to bar lobbyists and organizations that employ lobbyists from paying the travel expenses of members of Congress.

As CodePink co-founder Ariel Elyse Gold explained in a video posted to Twitter, an exception written into the law—known as the "AIPAC loophole"—has allowed the powerful lobbying group to create the AIEF and send members of Congress to Israel through the non-profit, while paying for the trip and controlling what lawmakers see while they are in Israel.

"There's really no difference between AIPAC and their 501(c)(3), AIEF. They share millions of dollars exchanged between the two of them," said Gold, holding a sign reading AIEF = AIPAC. "Their staff is paid by AIPAC...They're in the same building, working off the same money. Same agenda."

CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin noted that the regular congressional trips to Israel are shrouded in secrecy and that members of Congress are exposed only to the Israeli government's side of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

"These congresspeople are our public officials who are being taken by lobbyists to a foreign country for the purpose of increasing support for Israel—a country that already receives $3.8 billion a year of our tax dollars," said Benjamin in a statement. "When we try to get AIPAC, AIEF, or even members of the Congress to tell us who is on the trip or what the itinerary is, we are denied this information. This devious exploitation of the law and this lack of transparency are unacceptable and we call on the Office of Congressional Ethics to take action."

While the 2019 congressional trip did meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, CodePink noted, members "did not travel to the most problematic places in the West Bank, such as the city of Hebron where checkpoints exist within the city and walkways are divided between Israeli Jews and Palestinians."

CodePink praised 30 members of Congress who opted not to participate in the AIEF trip, including progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).

"I hope that with the next [freshman] class, we will no longer have to go this route because the Office of Ethics will put an end to such unethical behavior," Gold said.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'This Cannot Happen': Biden DHS Seeks Contractor for Migrant Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay

The solicitation for bids—which requires some guards who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole—comes as the administration is under fire for mass deportations of migrants, including thousands of Haitians.

Jessica Corbett ·

Global Vaccine Goals 'Fall Terribly Short' Due to Big Pharma and Rich Nations' Greed: Experts

"Wealthy nations are using up the world's vaccine supply, and developing nations are suffering and losing thousands of people every day."

Brett Wilkins ·

11 Senators Support House Progressives' Push to Pass Full Biden Agenda

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track."

Jessica Corbett ·

Ex-Prisoners Recall US Torture at 'Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib'

"It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening," said one former Bagram Air Base inmate. "The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."

Brett Wilkins ·

Rapid Shift to Electric Vehicles Could Create Over 150,000 Jobs in US by 2030

A new report says "smart" pro-labor policies by lawmakers would transform the "inevitable" shift to EVs "into a new beginning for U.S. producers and the rebuilding of a foundation for good jobs."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo