Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Israel is on freshman lawmakers' to-do list

WASHINGTON: Foundation-funded trip is popular with legislatorsBy Alana Y. Price and Lindsay Blakely Times Washington Bureau
This story ran on nwitimes.com on Sunday, December 3, 2006 12:11 AM CST
WASHINGTON New office on Capitol Hill? Check. Orientation to congressional protocols? Check. All-expense paid trip to Israel? Add that to the freshman lawmaker's calendar.Next year first-term members of Congress could be initiated into an unofficial Washington tradition -- flying to Israel, one of the top foreign destinations for privately sponsored congressional travel. Every two years -- the years between elections -- the American Israel Education Foundation invites House and Senate members to gain firsthand knowledge about a region they will influence through legislation.
The education foundation is a nonprofit arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -- AIPAC, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. A 2005 National Journal survey of congressional insiders ranked AIPAC second most influential lobbying group among Democratic lawmakers and fourth among Republicans.The pro-Israel organization made headlines in August when two of its former lobbyists were charged with conspiring to pass on national defense information to the Israeli government.
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