Stefanik Israel Trip Funded by Group Tied to Anti-Muslim Figures

According to a new disclosure, Rep. Elise Stefanik's recent visit to Israel was paid for by the Jewish Policy Center, whose board of fellows includes individuals identified as anti-Muslim by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Stefanik Israel Trip Funded by Group Tied to Anti-Muslim Figures
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) in Israel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo via Stefanik House of Representatives website)

Rep. Elise Stefanik’s recent Israel trip to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was funded by a group with ties to multiple individuals who are commonly labeled anti-Muslim hate figures, according to a travel disclosure filed today with the U.S. House.

Stefanik, a New York Republican who chairs the House Republican Conference, conveyed to Netanyahu the “House Republicans’ unwavering support for Israel, our most precious ally,” according to her website. She also delivered remarks at the Knesset, where she criticized President Biden’s decision to pause a shipment of bombs over Israel’s bombing in Rafah. “I have been clear at home and I will be clear here: There is no excuse for an American president to block aid to Israel—aid that was duly passed by the Congress, or to ease sanctions on Iran, paying a $6 billion ransom to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, or to dither and hide while our friends fight for their lives,” Stefanik said before Israel’s legislature. 

According to a new disclosure, Stefanik’s trip was paid for by the conservative Jewish Policy Center, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that describes its mission as “educat[ing] the American public about Israel, foreign affairs and domestic issues of importance to the Jewish community.” The organization spent nearly $48,000 on the trip, including on business-class airfare tickets for the representative and stays at luxury hotels. Stefanik’s chief of staff, Patrick Hester, joined her on the trip. 

The Jewish Policy Center has multiple individuals on its board of fellows who have been identified as anti-Muslim hate figures by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other left-leaning groups.

Fellow Daniel Pipes, the president of the rightwing think tank the Middle East Forum, was listed as one of the top five purveyors of anti-Muslim misinformation by the Center for American Progress in its 2011 report Fear, Inc. on the roots of Islamophobia in America. Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, a multi-year research project on Islamophobia, has an extensive profile of Pipes’ comments over multiple decades, as he has argued for various forms of discrimination against Muslims to counter the threat of Islamic terrorism. The initiative says Pipes “supports racial profiling and the surveillance of Muslim communities and believes Muslims in the United States seek to infiltrate and overthrow the country.”