The Lobby – USA, a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States.
Here is The Lobby in four parts:
A just-released Midterm Elections Scoreboard shows Israel partisans dominated Congress over the past 10 years, despite the preference of American voters, who consistently wish evenhanded policies and feel the U.S. gives Israel too much money.
The detailed scoreboard on candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives* shows 28 pro-Israel PACs and numerous pro-Israel individuals gave candidates millions of dollars in campaign contributions. There are currently no pro-Palestine PACs (although one of the pro-Israel PACs supports some Palestinian positions).
The scoreboard presents 29 bills and resolutions introduced on behalf of Israel, some openly drafted by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Twenty have passed into law or on-record statement, many by unanimous consent. The legislation accrued a total of over 3,300 co-sponsors.
In the rare cases when pro-Israel bills were unpopular, the split usually occurred along party lines, suggesting the action motivated by partisan politics, not deviation from pro-Israel positions.
Only one bill explicitly supportive of Palestinians (opposing Israel’s widespread imprisonment of children) has been introduced. The bill has so far garnered 29 cosponsors.
The Scoreboard was compiled by If Americans Knew, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on Israel-Palestine and the U.S. connection.
Five pieces of legislation in the study addressed military aid to Israel, including the Memo of Understanding (MOU) that President Obama signed, promising Israel $38 billion over the next 10 years. A bill currently before Congress cements this nonbinding agreement into law – the largest such aid package in U.S. history and an amount greater than US military aid to all other countries in the world combined. American taxpayers presently provide nearly a quarter of Israel’s annual defense budget. Six in ten Americans feel that is too much.
Six pieces legislation grant congressional supported to Israel’s “right to self-defense” against the unarmed enclave of Gaza or the Palestinians in Jerusalem; six others took a stand against actions of the United Nations which sought to safeguard Palestinian rights; an additional four supported the erosion of Americans’ rights to free speech.
In addition to bills and resolutions, the Scoreboard includes 11 open letters – some penned by AIPAC – to presidents and other influential leaders. Six of these letters endorsed pro-Israel policy and were signed by a significant number of legislators. The five letters encouraging actions that would benefit Palestinians gathered modest support.
An overwhelming majority of the incumbents running for re-election voted for the pro-Israel legislation and signed the pro-Israel letters.
The Scoreboard also indicates which incumbent candidates received campaign donations from pro-Israel political action committees (PACs), which totaled over $2.2 million for the 2018 election cycle. Pro-Israel Individuals contributed an additional $13 million.
Thirteen Senators and 14 Representatives received money and/or endorsements from five or more pro-Israel PACs.
Over 80 congressional challengers have also accepted donations from at least one pro-Israel PAC; most from more than one. According to Open Secrets, there are currently 28 pro-Israel PACs.
Unlike most PACs, which announce their focus in their name, most of the pro-Israel PACs use names that disguise their focus, such as “Americans United in Support of Democracy,” “Americans for Good Government,” and “Because We Care.”
While there are currently no pro-Palestine PACs, one pro-Israel PAC, J-Street, is supportive of some Palestinians rights. However, J-Street aligns with Israel on many of its major policies, and supports the massive aid to Israel.
Open Secrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, points out, “Few lobbies dedicated to international issues are so active and well-financed as the Israel lobby.”
Open Secrets continues, “A powerful pro-Israel force has carved out an influential place in American campaigns in the form of super PAC mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.” Adelson’s contributions to national political campaigns in 2018 alone reached over $113 million – all to Republicans/conservatives.
The Scoreboard indicates that a substantial number of the 410 incumbents on the ballot in both houses voted pro-Israel most of the time: 355 members of Congress (87%) had a pro-Israel score over 70%.
63% of House incumbents (240 of 378) had 100% pro-Israel scores – 74% of those (177) were Republican.
One Senator (Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-MS) had 100% pro-Israel rating; 78% of Senate incumbents (25 of 32) had a rating of 80% or higher. Six of these were Republican.
Congress considered only one piece of explicitly pro-Palestine legislation during the entire decade: Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) offered HR 4391 “No Way to Treat a Child,” which has garnered just 7% congressional backing (29 cosponsors) .
“No Way to Treat a Child” challenges Israel’s illegal practice of detaining, interrogating, and torturing Palestinian children – part of the brutal military occupation that has been ongoing for over half a century.
In the words of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, “Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year.”
UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, reports that ill-treatment of children (as well as adults) in the Israeli military detention system is “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.”
In spite of this documented disregard for international humanitarian law on the part of Israel, only 29 members of Congress (7%) have signed onto HR 4391.
If Americans Knew says that the scoreboards will be updated and expanded as more information becomes available, and has announced that it welcomes sourced information from readers.