“In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, Jewish groups are closely watching plans to restrict lawmakers’ lobbyist-sponsored travel, which could have a devastating impact on Israel trips that build support for the Jewish state in Congress.
“Rules proposed in Congress this month could place stringent restrictions on how lawmakers travel at the expense of lobbyists and the organizations connected to them. The most aggressive plans call for restrictions on paying for legislators’ hotel rooms and airfares, which could prevent them from travelling across the country to speak to interest groups such as American Jewish organizations.”
These Israeli trips change politician’s mind about Israel’s “right” to security – along with financial assistance – and Jewish groups are rightly concerned that new restrictions may change the dynamic in Washington.
The Jerusalem Post continues:
“One suggested rule, proposed by Rep. David Obey (D-Wisconsin), would forbid lobbyists from paying for or participating in trips by lawmakers, and would prevent trips sponsored by organizations that perform any lobbying activities. Many Jewish groups perform some lobbying activities and likely would be included in the ban, analysts said.
“‘Any member can travel anywhere they want to go; they’ve just got to do it on their own dime,’ said Ellis Brachman, an Obey spokesman.”
Such rules would of course not just affect Zionist lobbyists, but any attempt to tighten loopholes should be applauded. Check out AIPAC’s latest advertisement on the far-too-cosy relationship between politicians and the lobby.
In Australia, the Rambam Israel Fellowship Program takes journalists, politicians and their advisors to Israel (with a brief stop in Ramallah) in an attempt to convince individuals that Israeli governments decisions – from expanding settlements, imposing arbitrary checkpoints, construction of the wall etc – are vital for Israeli needs. Palestinian desires are secondary, at best.
The situation, however, may be starting to change. The Muslim population of Australia is growing strongly while the Jewish community is languishing. The numbers game suggest that politicians will soon be keen to appeal to a Muslim constituency and a less Israel-first agenda.
As in Israel, demography presents its own hackneyed solutions.