The AIPAC trips are among the lesser-known traditions for freshman members of Congress. They’re typically scheduled during the first August recess in every legislative session and feature a weeklong tour of Israel and meetings with leading Israeli figures in business, government, and the military. Both critics and proponents of the AIPAC freshmen trip say the endeavor is incredibly influential, providing House members with a distinctly pro-Israel viewpoint on complex controversies in the region.
Human rights activists contend that AIPAC’s trips are a major factor in tilting the scales in Washington, D.C. toward policies that reflect the interests of the Israeli government over Palestinians, helping policymakers to disregard Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank, its settlements, and its military strikes against the Gaza Strip.
AIPAC has flexed its muscle in Congress and with the Trump administration to press for increased military aid to Israel and limit financial support to Palestinians, roll back former President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and pass new laws to criminalize participation in the BDS movement, which calls for an end to Israel’s occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees kicked out of Israel in 1948. Under the Trump administration, key AIPAC priorities have become U.S. policy: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and backing out of the Iran deal.
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