"It's like coming here on the eve of the  Six-Day War. Israel is isolated and under diplomatic threat," says Akiva Eldar, a diplomatic columnist for the liberal Haaretz daily newspaper. "[Netanyahu] wants to send a clear message: 'Don’t mess around with me. Congress is with me on both sides of the aisle.' "
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.' "