Published by Jihan Andoni – OpenSecrets.org, 5 Nov 2009
Domestic policies such as health care reform and financial regulation are dominating Congress’ legislative agenda this year.But on Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a non-binding measure denouncing a United Nations inquiry that found that Israel committed scores of war crimes in its three-week assault last year in Gaza. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attack, many of whom were civilians, according to Amnesty International. Headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the inquiry also accused Hamas of war crimes and said both sides should investigate the allegations or face international prosecution.In voting for the measure, the House dismissed the Goldstone report as “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” It also called on the Obama administration to “strongly and unequivocally oppose” discussion of the report’s findings in any international setting.
The resolution passed 344-46.
The members of the House who voted in favor of the resolution have received $51,260 more on average from pro-Israel organizations ($81,020 versus $29,770) since 1989 than those who opposed it, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has found. Those who opposed the measure have collected $15,760 more, on average, from pro-Arab groups in that time than those who supported the bill ($16,360 versus $600).
[Figures and graphics: www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/11/congressmen-denoncing-un-inqui.html]
Campaign contributions aren’t the only way these groups are trying to get their voices heard on Capitol Hill.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, pro-Arab organizations have spent $70,000 on lobbying efforts since 1998, while pro-Israel groups have spent $5.8 million within the same period. Excluding trips within the United States, members of Congress travel most frequently to Israel.
These trips are usually paid for by pro-Israel groups, according to Legistorm.org.
Lawmakers made 845 trips to Israel since 2000, to the tune of $6 million.
Compare that to some of the Arab countries. Members made 171 trips to Morocco for a total cost of $714,250 and 145 trips to Egypt with a cost of $593,900. The U.N. General Assembly was expected to take up the Goldstone report today.
Jihan Andoni is the Center for Responsive Politics’ research director and an occasional contributor to Capital Eye.