Both Aipac and the National Jewish Democratic Council are known for their highly partisan pro-Israel tours of Israel hosted for Congress members. They’re basically political junkets touting a hardline perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Aipac subsidizes the tours to the tune of huge amounts of money, seeing it as a good investment in “tutoring” their charges on what the pro-Israel lobby group expects of them when they return to Congress and begin voting about Israel issues. I’ve written about the trips before here.
I just read an interesting report from Phil Weiss about a new Congress member, Rep. Michael McMahon, who promised a leader of the local Bay Ridge Brooklyn Arab-American community that he would visit Palestine during his term.
That got me to thinking: wouldn’t it be great if J Street could organize a progressive version of the Aipac Israel mission, by which members of Congress would do a progressive tour of both Israel and the Territories? Instead of shmoozing with Bibi and Natan as Aipac would have them do, they could meet with Tzipi, Yossi Beilin, David Grossman, Amos Oz, plus Mahmoud Abbas, Hanan Ashrawi, Mustafa Barghouti and other Palestinian leaders. I’ve passed along my idea to Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street. I hope something comes of it.
I hope any participants will pay out of their own pockets in order to avoid the unseemly “junket” charge that attaches to Aipac trips.