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Why one-fifth of US representatives went to Israel this summer

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Making a case for $3 billion in aid during austere times

The visit is funded as an educational trip by the American Israel Education Foundation – a group affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

While such visits are routine, the unusual size of this year's delegation reflects several factors ranging from the UN vote and rising criticism of White House policy toward Israel, to the bumper crop of freshman representatives who don't have to spend the summer campaigning for reelection. AIPAC wants to use the visit to make the case to newcomers for continued US foreign aid of about $3 billion at a time of fiscal austerity.

"The question isn’t so much going away with a different attitude, it's going away with more information," says David Kreizelman, who heads AIPAC’s office in Israel. "They have to go back to their constituents who are saying, 'We want [government help] and you are voting to give money to Israel.' "

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