'Pro-Israel lobbyists funneled more than $22 million into the 2018 US election cycle, making the lobby far more active and influential than those aligned with other foreign nations, public records show.
Controversy was sparked last week after freshman Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted that pro-Israel money affected the decisions of members of Congress. Omar faced swift backlash and condemnation even from her own party, as her colleagues rushed to label her comments as “outrageous,” “disgraceful” and even“anti-Semitic.”
In the aftermath, the Guardian examined figures available from the Center for Responsive Politics – a D.C.-based organization which tracks money in politics – and found that the Israel lobby is indeed “highly active and spends heavily” to influence lawmakers.
In response to a tweet from a Jewish journalist asking who she believed was “paying American politicians to be pro-Israel,” Omar specifically highlighted the influence the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). While AIPAC does not donate directly to political campaigns, it does spend millions on lobbying.
Indeed, the publicly available data shows that AIPAC – which lobbied against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 and supported Trump’s withdrawal from it in 2018 – spent more than any other pro-Israel lobbying group. AIPAC spent more than $3.5 million on lobbying during the 2018 election cycle and over $5 million in the year in total — which was the highest since tracking began in 1998.
The powerful group is also known for taking newly elected members of Congress on junket trips to Israel which the Intercept called“incredibly influential” in that they provide new House members with a “distinctly pro-Israel viewpoint on complex controversies” in the region.
On the Democratic side, those trips are usually led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has received $1.02 million from pro-Israel groups during his career, according to CRP figures.
Pro-Israel groups and individuals gave nearly $15 million to political campaigns during the 2018 election cycle, the highest since 1990, with the J Street Pac giving the highest amount of $4.03 million. About $2.1 million was also spent on political activity by pro-Israel foreign agents registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 2017 and 2018.'
Read more: Meddling, anyone? Pro-Israel groups spent $22 million on lobbying & campaign contributions in 2018
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